Head to ITC Gardenia as Chef Akshraj Jodha brings the best of the cuisine to the city
When you speak of the Royals of Rajasthan, one always tends to picture the brave warriors of the region and their fight against invaders across. What also comes to mind are their mind boggling palaces and imagery of great food that they consumed.
One such royal family was the Akheraj ancestory. Akheraj Deolia was founded by Rao Akheraj the grandson of Rao Chandrasen of Jodhpur and one of the 16th Istimirdari of Ajmer. The region was always under the Sultanate of Delhi from the time of Prithviraj Chauhan and changed the hands from Mughal to British therefore all the Jagirs were independent and only reported to Delhi till 1956 when it became part of Rajasthan.
Akheraj Deolia lies between the borders of Marwar and Mewar, hence the cuisine has been influenced by both the regions which includes use of Makki, Bajra, Jowar, Chana, Moong etc. The other influences were the different marriage alliances which changed the repertoire of the food cooked in Royal houses.
We spoke to Chef KS Akshraj Jodha the 14th descendent of Rao Akheraj is a notable chef and looks after the Rajasthan cuisine for the company, presently working as Executive Chef for WelcomHotel Jodhpur. Chef Akshraj is presenting the flavours of Akheraj Deolia at ITC Gardenia until 28th February, 2021.
Chef Akshraj Jodha has been in the industry for the past 18 yearsm where he started his career with ITC Hotels as a kitchen executive trainee. He started his career with ITC Maurya as a trainee chef at the acclaimed Dum Pukht restaurant post which he was assigned to open Dum Pukht at ITC Sonar in Kolkata. He has been assigned to different properties of ITC Hotels such as ITC Rajputana, ITC Maratha, ITC Gardenia, to name a few. In his current role, he is the Executive Chef for ITC Windsor, Bengaluru.
Excerpts from the interview:
1. Coming from a royal lineage it is difficult to shake off the reputation. You moved from the ordinary and took up to being a Chef. What were your thoughts when you decided to do so?
My family been associated with the travel and trade business so hospitality was always in our blood. However, I never really thought that I would become a Chef. While at IHM, I realized that I was more inclined towards the kitchen and that’s that of my journey.
2. Tell us about your family. Do you have any memories of cooking with your Grandmother that pushed you to take up this profession?
I come from a very humble background and my father was a Zamindar, he was one of the pioneers when Tourism was starting in Rajasthan in the early 70’s. I never saw my grandmother, I have only heard stories from my father, whatever cooking I know is from my mother.
3. When did you decide to trace back your cuisine and look at taking it to the next level?
I think this all started 11-12 years back when I was posted at ITC Rajputana as Master Chef for Rajasthani Cuisine, and I thought to myself and asked why must I not get into the history of my ancestral food? This was the time I started asking questions and stories about our food from my parents and the elders in the village and I started to collate them.
4. How has the Akheraj Deolia cuisine evolved through generations and experimentation? How many original recipes remain as of today?
Akheraj Deolia, geographically lies between Marwar and Mewar hence had an influence from both the sides. The other very important part is that Ajmer was always under the Mughals and they used to visit once a year and would stay for few months in and around Ajmer. Hence, there was some influence seen in our cuisine. The other influence was the marriage alliances where the lady would get her own cooks and experiments with the food. There are few recipes like Matki Maas(meat cooked in a clay pot handi), Amla Murgh, Makki Soyeta, Hara Maas, etc. These are few dishes/recipes which are still made in our homes.
5. When you talk of Rajasthani cuisine, the obvious dishes feature like- Laal maas, Ker Sangri, what are the other dishes people will get to try that probably they have never tasted?
There are many other dishes which people have not heard of like Pithod (made from besan), Pithla (made from besan), Chakki Saag (made from gluten), Sev Ka Saag, Khargosh Mokal, Khad Khargosh, Kachar Maas, Gawarphalli Ka Saag, Kachhe Ker Ka Saag etc.
6. As a custodian of Rajasthani cuisine at ITC, what are the myths you would like to dispel in the minds of the readers?
That Rajasthani food is not all that spicy!!!
7. When it comes to the food of the royalty, there is always a misconception that it is something that common people can’t really eat because it is heavy on fats, spices etc. Is there any dish that was rather inspired by a common man’s dish and then adopted by the royals like a Biriyani?
There are many dishes which were inspired from the local people like Ker Sangri, Gatta Saag, Lasun Chutney, Papad Methidana, etc.
Experience the traditional delights and prowess of this ancient dynasty at this truly Royal Repast, only at ITC Gardenia.
February 26th -28th, 2021
Gourmet Buffet INR 1600 + Taxes
ITC Gardenia,1, Residency Road,Bengaluru 560025, India
Dinner only: 7:00 PM – 11:30 PM
For more information, please