This review has two parts – stay (on top) & food (below stay). Please scroll down directly to food section if you want to skip the stay part.
In a NUtshell
A memorable stay in a beautifully restored & maintained 230 year old fort in Rajasthan, now converted to a hotel, Super warm & efficient staff who always made us feel like a guest at their own home, Brilliant food made with great attention to detail & also ingredients from in-house organic farm, a memorable lunch organised by the hotel at a farmer’s home
Address & other details: Alila fort Bishangarh
Meal for 2: ₹3000 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
We got to know about this place after reading a social media post by famous food writer maryyam reshi. We generally love goin to historical places & get into depth understanding Its history. So when Maryam mentioned history & food together, it was the best combination for us.
Booking the hotel online was easy.
On the day of travel we got a message regarding directions, which was good, considering google gives a slightly round about route. It was a 190 km drive to bishangarh, near Jaipur, from gurugram.
As we reached the hotel, we realised that there is no reception area. The boys & girls of the hotel were welcoming the guests to sofas in shamianas & doing the paperwork there. The shamiana had the fort on one side & A small waterbody on the other – thus the usual boredom of a reception was beautifully removed.
Everyone we interacted with, from hospitality associates/ managers (who gave us a tour / did the transactions / even drivers & house keeping staff spoke good English, were very warm (genuinely) & many of them were chatty. That helped break the ice real fast.
We also realised at this stage that we had to leave our car at the parking & use only the hotel gypsy (as many times we wanted, at whatever time), to go up to the fort & get back to the base area.
The fort is 230 years old & it was lying unused for many decades, till someone in the family decide to convert it to a hotel. Later Hyatt took over the management.
The idea in those days was to stop/ slow down invaders coming from delhi side here, & get Jaipur forts prepared. It’s hence called a warrior fort.
The original fort was built to a certain height. 3 Additional floors built were later for hotel purpose.
We got to stay in the 3rd floor in the building of 5 floors – there was a beautiful terrace on the 6th. The view from our floor was quite good.
We got a tour of the property by a very nice gentleman who very patiently answered all our queries. Interestingly he had answers to all our questions & further questions.
He showed us how The erstwhile Royal strategy room has been converted to a library, a Royal confession room which is now a bar, the erstwhile eating room is where cooking classes take place nowadays , queen’s room is now a restaurant, the dungeon is a spa!!!!
The hotel is 2 years in operation & they have been doing organic farming since the beginning. We were told that last year they had grown 100 kilos of pumpkins!!
We were super impressed during the organic garden walk. There are some dishes in the restaurant that are regularly made from these fresh organic ingredients.
A walk in the garden area is nice as there are many varieties of flowers.
There is a small infinity pool & a lovely restaurant by the side.
There r loads of interesting activities that the hotel arranges for guests.
For lunch we ate at a restaurant that was earlier a queen’s living room. Loved the a la carte menu. We stuck to local food though there was food from many parts of the world.
We also had our breakfast the next day at this restaurant.
In the evening there was a traditional local dance performance on the terrace floor & dinner was served there as well. This restaurant had what is called ‘hunting menu’.
They also had an improvised version of age old process of cooking – bury marinated meats for long time below sand in the morning & as the sun rises, the heat of sand cooks the food by the evening. Improvised version has the sand being heated thru gas burners & food being cooked in sand in 3-4 hours.
Food is an important part of this hotel. There was huge attention to detail towards all food. The result was great.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
Mangodi (wadi/ bori) ki subzi was very good – simple, home like, spices well cooked, thin simple gravy & flavour of spices. Rate it 4.5/5
The Lal maas surprisingly had hard & fibrous meat from what seemed to be an overgrown animal that probably was a regular at cultfit!!! The gravy was a bit thick.
The pieces were also too big & probably that led to the challenge in softness. Very strange coz most of goat meat served in delhi restaurants are brought in from Jaipur & other area of Rajasthan
Rate the Gravy 4/5 & the Meat 0/5. Overall rating of the dish averages out to 2/5.
Loved the Crunchy Cucumber tomato & onion tossed in mustard.
The small white chutney with nuts was lovely too
The Ghewar that we had for dessert was very enjoyable. It had blueberry & tiny gulab jamuns on top. Perfect texture. Sweetness was nicely balanced with saltiness of the top layer of malai. Rate it 4.5/5
Snack in room – gurpara had crisp layers in the center & a flavorful gur layer outside. The flavour of saunf expressed itself very well. excellent balance of salt & sweet. Rate it 4.5/5
The small Nimkis were crisp & had good amount of moyem (oil/fat) that gave the nimki a perfect texture. It was perfectly salted. excellent again. Rate it 4.25/5
dinner was a set menu. Starters, mains, desserts.
we could not , but repeat Silbatta lamb – lamb Apricot & dahi on silbatta.
Unlike the galouti kabab, this one was not a paste. The Fibres of meat were felt. The kababs were Juicy. It was Unique. The flavours of meat & spices complimented each other. It was like watching a 100 show performance opera in which everything seamlessly fell in place – outstanding. . 4.95/5
Fish tikka simple, as good as it could get with river sole fish, juicy, mostly flavours of fish, less of masalas. 4/5. In a high end restaurant like this, use of more flavorful & tasty surmai / bhetki would make more sense, as per me.
Chicken tikka very juicy charred in the ends soft, very good. 4.25/5
Kadhi pakora, unlike in delhi, was not made from dahi but from buttermilk. We have had much more hardcore versions in villages of Rajasthan earlier. Those r more flavorful (fermented) & way more sour. I guess the version served here was best for guests, while not taking away from the spirit of the dish. Pakoras were soft & nice. Rate it 4.25/5
Gatte aur Ker sangri ki subzi was outstanding. The gattas were full of flavour of the daals & had optimum softness – soft enough to be chewed enjoyably & hard enough to hold its shape. 4.5/5
Karela ki subzi with potato onions was totally unexpected. It was home like. Simple, lovely. Rate it 4.25/5
Green Fish curry was excellent. The fish was sole & ended up tasting as good as sole. The curry was great to taste. Rate the gravy 4.5/5, the fish 3/5. Overall rating averages out to 3.75/5.
Thin gravy of Chicken was hot, flavorful & simply unputdownable. The flavours of meat as well as spices were complimenting. Rate it 4.5/5
Lal maas had a thin gravy & was hot. The meat pieces were smaller & way better cooked than the lunch. Rate it 4.5/5
Daal was very good. Thankfully there was no added cream on top!! Rate it 4/5
Yarkhandi pulao was saffron flavoured rice with excellent flavour, perfect balance of taste, the soft & independent grains of rice were very enjoyable. The pulao had very soft & nice pieces of mutton. Rate it 4.5/5
Rabri ice cream made in-house was very good. It was creamy & not too sweet. Reduced milk flavours were very well expressed. Rate it 4/5
Pumpkin & coconut halwa was excellent – it had pumpkin as a base & scraped coconut mixed to it. Again, not too sweet & very tasty. Rate it 4.25/5
There were 3 local Rajasthani options in breakfast. Usually we have fruits, muesli, eggs etc for breakfast during travel, to balance the rest of the food during the day. We Wud have done the same here, had not the chef told us to try the Rajasthani breakfast. Very glad we listened to his suggestion.
Rajasthani village nashta – bajra paratha, butter, garlic chutney, butter milk, subzi, halwa, gur. This was served in a huge thali with small bowls placed in them. The bajra paratha was very good – very good texture, freshly made, piping hot.
The white butter served was from the market.
Chaas (butter milk) was made in local rajasthani style – unlike delhi. Much more rustic, thinner & stronger flavour. Rate it 4.5/5
Loved the dish baajrey ki raab. First time ever. Rate it 4.5/5
Halwa was lovely. Absolutely perfect. Rate it 4.5/5
Tomato & green pepper curry was extraordinary to taste. The balance was as good as it cud get. We licked off the gravy till the last drop. Rate it 4.75/5
Thoroughly enjoyed the lehsun ki chutney (garlic).
Palak methi poori with black chana curry. The pooris were perfectly salted, well puffed & well stuffed. However, Palak contributed to only color, not to taste, not to flavour. Rate the pooris 2/5.
The black chana curry was outstanding. Perfectly cooked Chana, nice gravy & very enjoyable flavor of spices. Rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of the dish averages out to 3.25/5
Lamb liver curry was not robust or rustic. It was a bit too sophisticated- seemed to be made for European guests. Low impact, mild in nature. The liver pieces were soft & tasty. The curry was flavorful. Rate it 3/5.
The kurma roti was nice.
We tried a fab croissant with gur (jaggery) as the sweetener. Rate it 4.5/5
We loved the carrot cake made from local carrots. Rate it 4.5/5
I always eat Bircher muesli when on offer. This one was a variation to the classic – it had bajra. Very nice. Rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of food at the hotel averages out to
Lunch was organised by the hotel based on request by us. We paid at the hotel & a staff member of the hotel accompanied us to a farmer’s house in the nearby village. The house was typical rural Rajasthan house, with an open area in front, courtyard in the center of the house, brick rooms with many ventilation points.
There were 4 buffalos who were tied to the trees. They were kept separately as they apparently fight if kept together.
A solitary goat was roaming around in the field. The lady of the house petted the goat & then milked it. She also offered to teach us how to milk a goat. We did not take the offer.https://yummraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/img_2039.mov
An old man was sitting in the open area outside, dressed in traditional wear. He was making ‘chara’ (fodder) for the goat.
The lady then took us inside the house & made bajra rotis for us from scratch. She told us that for each bajra roti she had to make a fresh dough – else texture of the roti wud not be good.
She skilfully made the rotis with hand instead of with a roller pin. The cooking happened in a brick chulha in one end of the courtyard. Wood fire was used as fuel. It took long for each roti to me cooked. Once cooked, she was taking the rotis off the tawa & keeping them next to the direct flame. This was puffing up the rotis, like a balloon. After this, she was cracking open the center of the roti with a metal spoon & generously applying home made white butter.
The result was priceless. It was the best bajra roti I have ever had in my life.
The whole experience was beyond any rating. For ur reference, I am rating the roti 4.95/5.
We were given a lauki (gourd) curry made from organic lauki grown in the garden.
Lehsun ki chutney was robust & hot.
Chaas was marvellous.
Daal was outstanding.
Both the daal & lauki was low on salt as it is but when had with the bajra roti, the combo wud have perfect salt. Quite interesting I wud say.
She also gave us kheer (milk & rice cooked together) as dessert. Very nice it was.