Rajasthan has always been a crown jewel in India’s heritage, both culturally and architecturally. With each city claiming a realm of its own, no guide to Rajasthan is ever complete without an ode to its ‘urban capital.’ Oftentimes, however, the culinary extravaganza of Rajasthan is lost amidst all the rest of it, and this is something Insia Lacewalla has taken up as something of a personal mission post moving to Jaipur a little over a year aho. As one of the pioneers of many incredible F&B experiences as part of Small Fry Co. when she was still in Mumbai, we’ve learned to trust her palate implicitly and so should you.
She explains that her love for her new home has everything to do with the fact that “the past four to five years have seen a transformation in this city with its Golden Triangle tourism and an influx of young entrepreneurs returning to the city to create an artistic base. All of them together have created a culinary scene in the city with places that have been around for over a century to new-age dining.” Having made Jaipur home for over a year now, she promises that a lot of her recommendations tend to beat the regular travel guides. From a 5 am kachori hideout to a woman who’s keeping the khad (hunting) style of cooking alive out of her home in a mosque, we can vouch for her unparalleled selection and tips.
Places Worth Splurging At
Conceptualized by Bombay-based entrepreneur Yash Aga, this modern European restaurant with a hint of Jaipur has a well-designed menu with daily specials. Their sweet potato fries served with their in-house garlic aioli and tomato sauce is a must!
Note: They grow their own quinoa and have a special menu dedicated to it.
Peshawari @ ITC Sheraton
The Peshawari and Bukhara restaurants at ITC Hotels have been known world over for their Raan and Dal Bukhara. From all the ITC restaurants, it’s known that the kitchen at ITC Sheraton, Jaipur saw the birth of these legendary preparations.
Note: Don’t spend money on drinking. Just enjoy your food!
Bar Palladio @ Hotel Narain Niwas Palace
Bar Palladio is the most famous bar in the city and the Swedish-Italian owner Barbara Miolini has created the perfect balance between a casual yet eclectic ambience. Known for its hand-painted interiors and garden parasols, the bar is the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon beer or a night out with friends.
Note: I recommend the Leffe with a slice of Orange.
Places That Won’t Pinch Your Pocket
Tapri Central @ Tea House
This rooftop café facing the expanse of Central Park was set up by two MBA graduates. It is the modern-day Chai Ki Dukaan. With street food from around the world and a variety of chais, this is the best place to enjoy Jaipur winter.
Note: Poha, Dal Pakwan, Masala Chai and for the non-chai drinkers, their pheto coffee are a must!
Peacock Rooftop Restaurant @ Hotel Pearl Palace
Not many know of Peacock but if you’re backpacking, chances are you have. In a tucked away alley surrounded by four-storey backpacker hotels, each with their own rooftop restaurant – Peacock at the Hotel Pearl Palace stands out for its Indian food and the family that runs it. Efficiently directing the long queue of guests to their tables, the hosts make sure that you are greeted and treated well, no matter the rush.
Note: Beware the mist machines in the summer – take a table furthest from them. Chana masala is a big win.
Opened recently by patisserie chef Nitin who has worked with 5-star hotels around the world, Fatt Guy Patisserie is run by him and his family. After moving to Jaipur to spend more time with his parents, Nitin opened Jaipur’s first French patisserie. 8 am butter croissants straight from the oven with a cup of coffee are the best way to start your day in this city.
Note: Croissants sell like hot cakes so be there on time to get yours!
Home Café by Mr Beans
Mr. Beans used to be a legendary joint for college goers. It was “that” hangout place where you didn’t have to spend money to spend hours. After a few years, the owners decided that it needed a revamp and Home Café was born. Run by the elegant and posed Sonakshi Ray, the café is a quaint spot for those who enjoy a quiet meal.
Note: Plonk yourself into a comfortable couch and enjoy their lemony lemonade with kaffir lime leaves and orange.
Bagadiya Bhavan ki kachori
Kachoris are the official street food of Jaipur. With various halwais and kachori specialty shops lining the main roads of the city, I recommend you walk through the chaotic Bagadiya Bhavan market and ask anyone for the kachoriwala. The reason I love this little shop is that they serve freshly made Pyaaz ki Kachoris with a topping of green chutney and kadhi.
Note: Order in your car and wash it down with a Kiwi Pineapple juice from the shop across the street.
Mehrunisa’s Khad Chicken
Hunting used to be a big sport in Rajasthan. Troops would head out to the jungles and hunt for hare, wild boar and deer. The hare, very like chicken, was marinated, wrapped in layers of rumali roti and put inside a pit, or Khad, dug in the ground to cook for over 8 to 12 hours. Since the ban on hunting, the same preparation is used for chicken and Mehrunisa keeps this tradition alive. She lives out of a mosque and requires a day’s notice to prepare this specialty.
Note: You are supposed to buy all the ingredients and hand it over to her along with a fee to prepare the dish.
Ram Chandra Kulfi
Panditji’s Kulfi is one of the most famous spots in Jaipur. Every tourist visiting the Hawa Mahal stops by Panditji’s Kulfi by its gates. However, my preference is Ram Chandra’s Kulfi which is a small street style stall outside the Ajmeri Gate of the old city. His Malai Kulfi trumps every kulfi you’ve ever had.
Note: Stop your car, order from the window and dig into this treat!
Kachori Pao at Rocky’s
This is one spot that not many people know about and is your best bet for a super early breakfast especially when you have an early morning flight out of the city. Camouflaged in the heart of MI road, Rocky’s opens at 5am and serves piping hot Kachoris in a bun along with steaming cups of cutting chai. In the Jaipur winter, there’s nothing like this street side experience. Stand by the pavement as he freshly prepares your breakfast and enjoy it while you watch the city come to life.
Note: Ladies, take some company along.
Iconic Jaipur Spots
Having been around for decades, Spice Court is a family restaurant with known for traditional Rajasthani specialties. The Laal Maas, which is pretty famous is served here but what it is known for is actually one preparation that is made nowhere else but here. The Kheema Bathi is a non-vegetarian rendition of Rajasthan’s Dal Bathi. Doughballs are stuffed with spicy minced meat and deep fried in clarified butter. It is served along with gravy.
Note: The two bathis that are served in a portion are a meal in itself so avoid indulging in anything else.
When you walk down the central street – MI road, you will come across a line of Lassiwalas. They have been around for generations and serve lassi in glasses made of mud. The lassi is topped with a layer of cream and even for people like me who can’t stand this sweet milky beverage, can’t beat it’s craving. In the row of lassiwalas, the first one (been there since 1944) is the best.
Note: He runs out by 1pm so get there on time or indulge in the one next door.
On Reservation: Café Kothi
Located in the heart of the city yet tucked away from the chaos, is this 5-room boutique luxury guest house called 28 Kothi. Run by Bombay based hospitality company – Honawar Hospitality and designed with Jaipur based Lebanese designer Nur Kaoukji, 28 Kothi houses designers, artists and creative folk from around the world. In their beautiful front lawns, they house a private café serving a farm fresh vegetarian menu inspired by European and Mediterranean ingredients.
Note: The menu changes daily and you can book yourself a table for breakfast, lunch, high tea or dinner by emailing email@example.com
Profile: Insia Lacewalla
Insia Lacewalla has worked across industries with experience of over 12 years in television, film, events, indie music, food and beverage, and hospitality. With a post-graduation degree in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from Xavier’s Institute of Communication, she joined as the first Corporate Communication Manager at Sony PIX to further move on to be an Assistant Producer at Vinod Chopra Films, manage artists and curate festivals at OML Entertainment and finally set up her own F&B startup - Small Fry Co. She is currently working as a Hospitality Consultant in Jaipur.