(L-R) Kunwar Shivraj Singh Limdi, Chef Naveen Handa, Executive Chef JW Marriott and Kunwarani Vijaya Singh Sirmaur at Royal Food Festival. Photo: IANS

By Jaideep Sarin

Chandigarh, March 8 (IANS) It is not always that you have royal secrets laid out before you attracting greedy, and hungry, looks. And when you dig into this royal plate, you have a mouthful of best kept secrets to savour.

That is exactly what a team of cousins from an erstwhile royal family of Madhya Pradesh — Kunwar Shivraj Singh Limdi and Kunwarani Vijaya Singh Sirmaur — is doing in a 10-day ‘Royal Food Fest’ (till March 13) at Chandigarh’s JW Marriott Hotel’s restaurant.

Shivraj, who comes from the royal family of Limdi in Gujarat, and Vijaya, who was born in the royal family of Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh) and is married into the royal family of Sirmaur in Himachal Pradesh, have donned the chef’s mantle to give a royal break to people coming in to eat.

“We are doing this for the love of food and cooking and to let others experience dishes which used to be the domain of royals alone,” Shivraj told IANS here.

“Good, authentic food is all about playing with the ingredients. It should not be the same kind of masalas being used for all dishes. Our food is cooked from the heart,” Shivraj, 39, who took to cooking at the age of 13 by making an omelette, said.

What Shivraj and Vijaya are cooking is not limited to a particular area alone.

From the Mughal specialty ‘Keema Biryani’, the Nepalese specialities ‘Sekhwa Charu’ and ‘Sandheko’, Kashmiri specialities ‘Kabargah’ and ‘White Urad Dal’ and the ‘Nabab’ from Madhya Pradesh and more — the cousins are doling out rich fare.

“Some of the recipes have come from our grandmothers. These have been passed on for generations. Women in our family used to cook on alternate days so that these recipes were not lost,” Vijaya told IANS, adding that the dishes were from different regions and royal families.

“The fundamental backbone of my recipes remains unchanged; impeccable seasonal ingredients accurately cooked and brought together on a plate in harmonious and elegant manner which also satisfies a grumbling tummy. Picking up the nuances of royal cooking from a young age, one key point which I learnt was the need to ensure authenticity,” Shivraj said, adding that he makes his own curry powder to give authentic touch to his dishes.

Among other dishes being offered by the duo are ‘Shikari Murgh’ and ‘Maas Ke Sooley’ for starters, the ‘Lahsun ki Chutney’ and ‘Kachri ki Chutney’, the ‘Desi Malwa Gosht Curry’, ‘Shahi Haryali Murgh’, Desiccated Coconut ‘Paya Kush’, ‘Shekhawati Paneer Roll’, ‘Rajwadi Kalmi Vada’, ‘Dahi Palak’, ‘Susa Aloo’, the ‘Yakhni Pulao’, the latter is rice cooked with Lamb Stock, flavored with Potli Masala and Bati bread (Roasted whole wheat dumpling, soaked in Ghee).

In the deserts, on offer are ‘Pineapple ka Halwa’, ‘Rose Petals Flavoured Rice Pudding’, ‘Gulab ki Kheer’ and ‘Paan Kulfi’ which take the taste buds to another level.

“The Royal Food Festival is giving our patrons a rare glimpse into the past and an opportunity to experience an art of cooking which was confined to the royal kitchens of yore,” said Pallav Singhal, Director Food and Beverages, at the hotel.

A royal salute indeed to the young royals for sharing their food secrets.

Cost of meal for two: Rs 3,150/- for a non-vegetarian menu and Rs 2,600/- for vegetarian.