In August 2019 we did a road trip from mumbai to delhi. We stopped over at nights in Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Udaipur & jaipur. This is part of of a series of 5 posts about food & travel experienced during the trip.
Read about part 2 of 10 here: house of MG
This post is about the stay at Taj Aravallis & the food at their restaurants.
In a nutshell:
A fabulous stay at a beautifully landscaped, man-made resort, in tent lookalike rooms called ‘tents’ that come with all modern amenities. Must mention the outstanding hospitality & the fabulous food. No match to the Udaipur lake palace property – that one is many notches above, in case you are to choose one among these.
Address & other details: taj Aravali
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries / hotels 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
On Day 3 of our Road trip, we started early to cover the road from Ahmedabad to Udaipur. This was one of the longer stretches in the whole journey. After experiencing outstanding roads from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, we were in for some patience test at times. The roads from Ahmedabad to Udaipur were a mixed bag. Some excellent, some good, some poor (contrary to my earlier experience of very good roads in Rajasthan). The roads were bad as many flyovers are being built & hence there were diversions & as it happens, lawless people were coming in wrong directions, trying to save a few minutes, mud & potholes full of slush etc etc. It seems ‘acche din’ will take few more years to come here:)https://yummraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/img_5580.mov
The Aravallis gave us some great background view all thru this drive. I knew this mountain range was even older than the Himalayas, but while studying & preparing notes for the trip, we got to know that Aravallis are the longest range in the subcontinent as well.
It took us almost 7 & half hours to reach here non-stop from Ahmedabad. We are still surprised at how we managed to not stop for a loo break or a break to stretch ourselves. We however kept eating dry food that had been packed by my sister when we were leaving Mumbai – Gujarati staples like khakhras, theplas & bhujia.
Google maps showed us the road from the center of the centuries old ‘old city’ – narrow, crowded, unruly traffic. Our Jeep puffed & panted but managed to get off it scratch-less. Later we got to know that there are alternate roads as well to get to Taj Aravallis from the highway.
The property was not in the city, but on the foothills of the Aravallis. This was a new property that had hardly completed a year when we were there. The entrance was through a beautiful lobby building with pristine white décor inside.
In the property there were regular cottages – both small & large (for larger families). In addition, there were tents. We chose to stay in a tent.
Like I mentioned before, these were not actually tents, but lookalikes of tents. First a regular building was made, with brick & mortar. Then the interior & exterior were decorated like a tent. So visually it was a tent from both inside & outside but it was strong enough to withstand storms & rains, it being a solid structure. Needless to say the tent had everything from refrigerator to air conditioner, TV & even a bath tub.
The tents were set up long an inclined, cobbled street, with panoramic views of the mountains from the balcony in front of the tent.
There were two ways of getting to the tent from the lobby & restaurants – golf carts or just walking. We did a lot of the second option.
There were many activities that we could do in the property. Each had a time & location assigned.
Our stay at Taj Aravali Resort & Spa, Udaipur allowed us to soak into nature. The property was of course not like some of the natural forest reserve lodges of Taj, but a carefully created one.
Like in most high end properties of taj there was a property tour & a nature walk. The usual person was perhaps not around. So a senior member of the Taj team, Mr. Kaustubh, took us for a beautiful nature walk. We had some Great conversations, & found some great insights on the flora & fauna of the area. The simple joy of no sound but just birds, waterfall, the sight of birds etc. took our tiredness away.
He was very warm & enthusiastic & made a huge difference to our experience. We were asking questions & he was happily answering all of them & more. He also told us some tricks of how to best capture a photograph thru a binocular. We spent almost 20 minutes in trying to capture pictures of two peacocks in a nearby bush, just outside the wire fence.
We were so near to nature after 4 long years in concrete mumbai that we also enjoyed the sight of worms crawling out of the soil.
There were beautiful flowers & curated gardens all over.
The entire area was landscaped & maintained to the level that pictures clicked here might look photoshopped!!
The artificial waterfall was nice. The constant sound of water from this waterfall, in the open area had a soothing effect.
There were Puppet shows, folk music & dance sessions in the evening. These were also a nice change to the routine. The shows at Taj Lake Palace hotel were light-years ahead than the ones here. Simply no comparison. As different as Kia Seltos & Jaguar Land rover Discovery!!!
This was built like a Single room with an attached bathroom. The ceiling & walls were made to look like a tent, by usage of material & visual design of that of a tent. So visually it was exactly like the best of tents but actually it was a room, safe & sound. I had imagined a real tent but finally was Ok with this too.
The floor was made of wooden tiles.
The walls had a thick ecru (off white) canvas on it. The subtle designs on the cloth was just beautiful.
I particularly could not forget the stunningly intricate ivory colored wall piece that hung on the wall above the head.
It rained thruout our stay. So we enjoyed a lush green view of the mountains from our balcony.https://yummraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/img_5776.mov
Short description of Food:
There are four restaurants in the property –
Alfresco grill ridge view – This bar & grill is in an open roof area. So it operates on only non-rainy days. The day we were there, this was shut due to rains. They were however serving items from their menu, at the lounge.
Odeypore lounge was the one that I mentioned above. It had a high ceiling & beautiful décor. The interesting part of this lounge were the small attached balconies, where one could sit & enjoy a drink or food.
In the ground floor, there was a beautiful,
Pure vegetarian restaurant named Javitri. As much as we wanted to eat a meal here, it did not fit our schedule. The choice was between the grill food & this for dinner – we chose the grill.
The All day diner was named Tiri. We had snack here after the long drive on day 1 & also had breakfast here the day after.
We loved our Caesar salad & chicken tikka soon after we arrived at the hotel in the afternoon. Both were excellent. As good as they could get. Rate both 4.5/5 each.
Due to rains the alfresco grill was shut. So we had food from its menu while sitting in odeypore lounge.
As we reached the lounge, we realized that it was very dark & absurdly noisy. The noise was being created by a large group of people, who were all dressed in Bollywood retro attire & were dancing, drinking & really increasing the decibel levels. After the long drive the noise was just unsettling.
Since the lounge also had low light, I was almost unable to click food pictures without a flash light. So we requested the guys to let us sit in a different place, that was a bit more secluded. They arranged a beautiful small balcony for us to sit in & enjoy the dinner. Memorable. Great gesture. Special thanks to Mr. Debashish Dey & his colleagues.
The balcony also had Dim light, but slightly more than inside the lounge. Candle ligh was the main source of light, in addition to some electric ones a bit far away.
Sound of only frogs & cicadas could be heard. This felt like staying in nature.
The guy serving us was a gem. He was super warm & helpful. Loved the food here.
Detailed Description of food at the Grill – in case you have the time to NJOY reading:
We had two choices – Indian grill veg or non-vegetarian & European grill veg or non-vegetarian.
We ordered one each of Indian & European Grill, non-vegetarian.
The grills were brought all together, in a large plate. I think it is a conceptual mistake as no one can eat so many things so fast (while they are hot). Even if one ends up eating them fast, it’s a waste. In a road side / low end eatery I would not have raised this. However, at a place like Taj resort, where there is enough staff, it is kind of weird that they they wanted to finish off all the work at a go rather than send the grills one by one, like in the great Kabab factory.
We got two pieces of Jhinga jaleli (jumbo prawns), Angithi murg tikka (chicken tikka), Murg malai tikka, Maas ke suley (chunks of mutton) & Ajwaini fish tikka. Am not individually describing them. All had distinct marination, were juicy, had a good mix of flavors of the spices & the meat (or fish) & had slight burnt edges. Collectively I would rate them 4/5
4 chutneys that came as accompaniments were excellent. Collectively rate them 4.5/5
In Indian Mains, we had Kadaknath chicken curry. For the uninitiated, Kadaknath, also called Kali Masi (“chicken having black flesh”), is an Indian breed of chicken that has black feather, black flesh & also black bones!!! They taste outstanding. It is also said that the meat of this chicken has a fat content of around 1%, as compared to the approx. 20% fat content of most other chicken breeds.
We were pleasantly surprised to have this chicken here – loved the curry. Loved the chicken. Rate it 4.5/5.
Daal makhni was very good as well. Rate it 4.25/5
We also tasted a bit of Handi murg dum biryani – It was good. Not close to the best of biryanis that we have ever had. Among the 5 stars, the ITC guys have mastered the biryani way better than Taj & that is consistent. Rate this one 3/5.
For dessert we had Kesariya rasmalai – not too sweet. Nice & thick. Rate it 4/5
Moong dal halwa was mind blowing good. I vividly remember this dish after so many months. Full of flavors of Daal & ghee, the daanedaar texture & the rich sweet (with a tinge of saltiness) taste. Brilliant. Rate it 4.75/5
Badam kulfi was also very good. A bit on the sweeter side though. Rate it 4.25/5
We tried Chilli cilantro marinated prawns, Peri peri chicken wings, Tartar spiced lamb patty, Jerk salmon goujons & Pepper crusted seer fish. Collectively rate these 4.25/5. Like mentioned above, having these one by one, fresh from the oven would have been way better.
For mains we had Grilled New Zealand lamb chops & we loved it. This was the best western meat dish of the trip so far. Lovely flavors of meat, perfect texture, juicy & simply outstanding. Rate it 4.75/5.
We skipped the European dessert & rolled out like a ball – fed till our noses:)
We enjoyed our breakfast at Tiri.
We also got our lunch packed for the drive to Jaipur. We got off midway & enjoyed the lunch in a serene place in the middle of nowhere, on the side of the highway.
Overall rating of food here averages out to 4.3/5
Loved the experience overall but not as much, compared to Lake Palace. The people here put up a great show in everything but probably it is impossible to match up to the romantic & unique lake palace & its unique artists
https://yummraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/img_5811.movhttps://yummraj.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/img_5814.mov& we set out for jaipur ……………..