Recipes from the Palaces
This was our first visit to India and I was nervous, I was not sure if I was going to like it. I could not have been more wrong.
We travelled to Rajasthan, visiting the three great cities of Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur, all dominated by their austere forts and majestic palaces, liberally painted in beautiful signature blues and pinks, they are filled with treasures that showcase the extraordinary craftsmanship of a diverse and remarkable nation.
Their spectacular architecture ranges from magnificent gracious domed palaces to the medieval bleak and towering hill fortresses which hide within more palaces with delicate and intricate stone latticework windows. The windows were used to shield the Royal women from the eyes of outsiders, but allowing the same women to view (but not join in with), the dancers, fire eaters and elephant jousts in the ancient courtyards and alleyways below.
Exploring the bustling streets, one is constantly aware of the bright colours of the food piled high in the baskets on display outside the market stalls, and the smell of cooking from nearby street vendors: chillies, ginger, coriander, and a different curry on every corner.
Travelling with British Polo Day, we were lucky enough to be the guests of the Maharajas and their families in both Jaipur and Jodhpur, and were treated to wonderful traditional hospitality in the most spectacular locations; for us the myriad of curries laced with the freshest herbs and spices was a highlight of our trip. We had thought we might tire of curries every day, but they are so diverse we did not.
There is one curry that everyone named their favourite. Traditionally made with wild boar or venison from hunting trips, the red chillies would disguise any rather too gamey flavours. It is now usually made with mutton or goat meat, Laal Maans is the favourite of all Royal curries. It is perfect for a February dinner party, and why not start with Spicy Okra delicious to nibble with a glass of champagne.
Indian Head Injury Foundation - During our stay, money was raised to support the Indian Head Injury Foundation, founded in 2007 by the His Highness the Maharaja of Jodhpur after his son suffered a serious injury during a polo match. Head injury is all too commonplace in India and campaigns to improve road safety are also a key initiative, with road accidents accounting for over 70% of head injuries. We are also supporting Sambhali UK, a non-profit charitable organisation who are doing inspirational work empowering & educating Rajasthani women & children.
Caryn Hibbert would like to thank Ed Olver and the team at British Polo Day for their wonderful hospitality and Dave Burt, @London Instagram, for the use of some his lovely photographs from their travels in India together.