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December 2007  
 
 
Special Reports



In this Issue
Offers from Easy Tours & Our Hotel Partners
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 



In this issue we will focus on Ranthambhore Tiger Park with a focus on the unique Rajasthani cuisine that is found here.

The forests of Ranthambhore were once the hunting preserve of the King of Jaipur and the history of royal hunts goes back to the 12th century. Hundreds of men armed with weapons – drums – pots and pans would step into the forest and create a noisy safari to draw out the wildlife.

In the royal kitchens of Rajasthan, including Ranthambhore, food was very serious business and the local ingredients graced dishes which are Rajasthani but with a unique flavour.

Scores of chefs would accompany the royal hunting parties and the results of the day's hunt was served to the royals and their guests. This royal repast was served in elaborately decorated gold and silver dishes.

Dishes such as Laal Maans (spicy meat curry) Safed Maans (meat cooked in curd) Mohan Maans (meat cooked in milk) Khad Khargosh (wild hare cooked and roasted underground) hence became a part of Ranthambori cuisine.

Today, for visitors to the National Park, the day starts with an exciting early morning safari into the wilderness of Ranthambore.

Renowned for its magnificent Royal Bengal Tigers, Ranthambhore National Park is one of the finest tiger Sanctuaries in the country. Experience the majesty of the mighty predator as you explore the jungle.

Amber Fort

Other wildlife you may spot includes:
Leopards – Asiatic deer – flying foxes – sloth bears - jackals – monitor lizards – macaques – the elusive caracal - blue bull – the snub nosed crocodile – jungle cats – four horned antelope and graceful herds of spotted deer near the three major watering holes in the Park.

It is also a bird watcher’s paradise. With over 260 avian species, you get to see jacanas – painted stork – black stork – crested serpent eagle - the great Indian horned owl – Bonelli’s eagle - quail – partridge – paradise flycatcher – spur fowl -parakeets – spoonbills – kingfishers – geese and white necked stork among others.

Perhaps the most brilliant of all the fowl is the amazingly plumaged peacock, the national bird of India. If you are fortunate, you may get to see a male dance and have another lifelong memory to take with you.

December Dish

Upon your return to your Lodge you will freshen up and bask in the unspoilt environment. You will certainly have worked up a healthy appetite for lunch. You may want to try one of the mutton specialities along with the delicious Dal Panchmeli (a mix of five types of lentils cooked together) and seasoned with a mouth-watering blend of mild spices and clarified butter.

Add to that some Murg ka Mokul (shredded fried chicken cooked in yoghurt & spices & flavoured with saffron and almonds) and an assortment of freshly prepared Indian breads, and your appetite will have to be coaxed into enjoying the desert that follows.

After lunch, you will return to the forest for another safari. At the end of this safari, you may want to explore the ruins of the 10th century jungle fort (Ranthambhore Fort) which dominates the hills above the park and after which the Park has been named.

Epitomising the ancient Hindu concept of vana-durg (a fort protected by a jungle), the Ranthambhore Fort was a citadel of power vital for the control of various trade routes. Built in 944 A.D. and chronicling numerous tales of valour in its history, this is still an imposing structure.

Tour its many old ruins including the palaces – temples – cenotaphs – houses and step-wells. There is an ancient functioning Hindu temple at one end of the Fort complex which is still considered a sacred pilgrimage destination by the villagers in the surrounding areas. Perched atop a cliff overlooking the Park, the Fort affords superb views of the Park and has been a silent witness to history over the last millennium.

Among the more fascinating features of Ranthambhore (and there are many of those) are some ancient Banyan trees mentioned in the religious texts of India. With their gnarled roots stretching down to the earth some of them are over 800 years old.

On this evening you will dine while swapping tales about your experiences on the safari. Savour the succulent chicken and mutton kebabs, the fresh Indian breads, along with other delicious Rajasthani accompaniments.

 

 
 
 Chef of the Month
Chef of the Month
 

Ajay Kumar, the soft-spoken chef of the Taj Sawai Madhopur Lodge in Ranthambhore, Ajay developed his passion for cooking at an early age. His first teacher was his father and his first lessons were in the intricacies of traditional Rajasthani cooking.
He specialized in chicken & lamb delicacies and honed his culinary skills to perfection (over twenty years) at a number of fine dining establishments. His last tour of duty was in the kitchens of the exquisite Rambagh Hotel in Jaipur.
The Taj Group then moved him to The Sawai Madhopur Lodge in Ranthambhore where he now delights patrons with mouth-watering preparations from his vast repertoire of delicious recipes.

Here are a few of his favourite recipes -

   

 
 

Sabat Raan
(Whole Leg of Lamb)

Utensils:
1 large & deep cooking vessel
1 wok
1 medium-sized mixing bowl
1 large serving platter

Ingredients:

Leg of lamb – 2.2 lbs (1 kg)
Ginger-garlic paste – 4 oz. (100 grams)
Cashew paste – 2 oz. (50 grams)
Pineapple juice – 40 ml.
Red chilly powder – 1.6 oz. (40 grams)
Garam Masala powder – 0.6 oz. (15 grams)
Yoghurt - 7.2 oz. (180 grams)
Onion paste - 2 oz. (50 grams)
Salt – as required.
Refined oil – 6 oz. (100 grams)

Preparation:
1.Place the whole leg of lamb on a large
flat surface. Make deep slashes in it with the point of a sharp knife and squeeze pineapple juice into the cavities.
2. Rub salt liberally over the entire chunk of mutton, then half the red chilly powder.
Finally you rub the ginger-garlic paste over the meat.
3. Keep aside to marinate for two hours.

 

Sabat Raan


4. Place yoghurt in thin muslin cloth, tie on the handle of faucet and allow to drain for ½ an hour. Remove drained yoghurt from muslin cloth and place in mixing bowl.
5. Heat oil in a wok and lightly brown first cashew then onions. The two ingredients must be fried separately. Remove from pan and keep aside.
6. Mix the rest of the red chilli powder and salt to taste with the yoghurt. Now add the browned onions and cashew to this mixture.
7. Smear mutton leg thoroughly with the yoghurt mixture and place in a deep cooking vessel. Cook over slow fire for 1 ½ to 2 hours
or until done. Pierce with a skewer to check
whether tender.
8. Place on a serving platter and serve hot.

 
   
   
 
 
         

Ranthambori Aloo
(Special Spiced Baby Potatoes from Ranthambhore)


 

Ranthamori Aloo

Utensils:
1 large wok
1 deep glass serving bowl
1 shallow frying pan

Ingredients:

Baby potatoes – 2.21 lb (1kg)
Lemon juice – 4
Onions – 6 oz. (150 grams) - chopped
Black Pepper – 0.6 oz. (15 grams) – freshly ground.

 

Butter – 0.6 oz. (15 grams)
Refined oil – 8 tbsps
Salt – to taste
Green chillies – 1 oz. (25 grams)
Mint leaves – 2 oz. (50 grams)

Preparation:
1.Wash the potatoes thoroughly and dry them.
2. Quarter potatoes without removing skin.
3. Heat oil in a pan and lightly brown the potatoes Remove the pan from the fire and drain potatoes on absorbent paper towels.
4. Heat the butter in a wok and lightly sauté the onions for a minute. Now add the green chillies and freshly ground pepper and fry for
another minute or so.
5. Add the potatoes to the onion-green
chillies-pepper mixture and add half the mint
leaves and salt. Mix well and cook over low
flame till done. Remove the wok from the fire.
6. Check for seasoning and squeeze lemon juice over the potatoes. Mix well and add the rest of the mint leaves.
7. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot.

   
 
 

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Mumbai and the balance totalling up to six nights in any of the 3 Luxury Palaces in
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2. Incredible Treasures of the North and Incredible Southern Paradise – Avail of a
truly incredible offer and spend a total of three nights at a choice of hotels in North and South India for a special rate.

For details and reservations please click here to email us.

 
Resort of the Month
 
The Taj Sawai Madhopur Lodge

Located amidst 12 acres of lush gardens, the Taj Sawai Madhopur Lodge exudes a rustic old world charm and an air of history. Built in 1930 by Jaipur royalty (Sawai Man Singh II), this 77 - year - old hunting lodge is one of the finest hotels belonging to the prestigious Taj Group of Hotels.

Conveniently situated just a 20 minute drive away from the popular Ranthambhore National Park, this charming retreat has played host to ‘royals’ such as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The spacious rooms of the Deluxe Suite used by the King of Jaipur and his personal guests and with a rich sense of history, played host to the Royal couple.

 
Resort of the month


The Sawai Madhopur Lodge’s multi-faceted charms and ways to pamper their guests include not only such mouth-watering Rajasthani specialities as have been prepared by Chefs who have honed their culinary skills to an art, but also the novel experience of an open ‘Chula’ or cooking fire.

Apart from the rewarding wildlife safaris, the Taj offers nature walks into the surrounding countryside and its own private gardens. The Hotel also schedules colourful cultural performances such as folk dances and puppet shows every evening during the season. Relaxation and rejuvenation can be achieved by activities such as Ayurvedic massages & Yoga.

 
 Updates from our Regional Offices

From Our Head Office in Delhi

World Heritage Status Conferred on Red Fort:
News from the capital city of Delhi! The amazing Red Fort acquired the status of a World Heritage Site recently at an impressive ceremony held within the gardens of the Diwan-i-Khas inside the Fort. A befitting tribute to a monument from the ramparts of which India’s Independence was declared in 1947.

The inscription of the Red Fort on the World Heritage List is very significant for Delhi since the Red Fort Complex would be the third World Heritage Site in the city - this is an honor that no other single location in the world can boast of.

Classified as a cultural property with an outstanding universal value, The Red Fort Complex, Delhi now joins the prestigious ranks of the Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb which are also World Heritage Sites.

 
Updates Head Office
 

 
From Our Jaipur Office


Exciting Aviation News:
A new International Terminal Building is being constructed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). This will allow Jaipur to receive more international commercial flights and also allow an increase in chartered flights.

Jaipur Airport is the 14th international airport of the country. In keeping with international norms, the new international terminal building will be constructed according to the latest technology incorporating glass & steel structures to match international standards of other world class airports.

 

Jaipur


The Pink City of Jaipur is already an important international tourist destination of India and well connected to the major cities of India by air, road and rail.

Jaipur heritage grooming
The Rajasthan government has to develop 52 historical in the vicinity of the Pink City as part of its efforts to market the area as an international destination for heritage, health and eco tourism.

 
   
 

 
From Our Agra Office


Taj Mahotsav Festival
:
Come February and it's springtime! The time of the year when nature dons all it's multi hued splendour and Agra bursts into colourful celebrations. For 10 days there is a celebration of the rich heritage of the city's arts – crafts – culture – cuisine - dance and music.

The event is organised by Uttar Pradesh Tourism, and is held as an annual event at a venue literally next door to the Taj Mahal. Called the Taj Mahotsav, it is a fitting tribute to the legendary skills of master craftsmen and exponents of art music and cuisine and offers more then a glimpse into the rich heritage and extraordinary legacies of this amazing city.

 


Agra Office
 
The festivities commence with a spectacular procession inspired by Mughal splendor. Bedecked elephants and camels, drum beaters, folk artists and master craftsmen.... all help to recreate a visual delight reminiscent of the golden era of the Mughal Royal Processions.

Taj Mahotsav is where the legendary artisans and master craftsmen breathe life into their exquisite works of art. Marble inlay apart the Festival brings forth an array of other fine crafts as well - wood carvings - brass and other metal ware from Moradabad - handmade carpets - blue pottery - Chikan work ( a special type of embroidery) - the silk of Banaras... to name a few.

You can also experience a profusion of folk music and dances – Drama - the famous 'Sapera' (snake) dance of Rajasthan with its sinuous movements- the special Lavani dance of Maharashtra... performed just the way they used to be centuries ago. Agra is renowned for it's breathtaking centuries’ old monuments.
 

 
From Our Ranthambhore Office

Famous Royal Bengal Tiger Reserve also World’s most filmed Reserve:
Renowned for its magnificent Royal Bengal Tigers, Ranthambhore National Park is not only one of the finest tiger reserves in the country, but also one of the most filmed wildlife reserves in the world.

While a dramatic increase in Tiger sightings has been reported in recent months by ETI guests, for an added ‘bonus’ sighting of the majestic predator visit the Park between February and May. During this period the nature of the dry deciduous forests makes tiger sightings even more frequent.

 

Wildlife
 
With its rare royal structures and abundance of avian species, Ranthambhore is not only a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise but also a photographer’s dream and an ornithologist’s delight.
 
 

 
From Our Cochin (Kochi) Office

Temple Festival at Poornathrayeesa:
 

The famous Poornathrayeesa Temple festival is currently on at Tripunithura – just 10 kilometres away from the picturesque port city of Cochin (Kochi). Apart from being a sacred place of worship for the Hindus, Poornathrayeesa Temple is also famous for its annual festivals. This temple is believed to have been built by the mighty Arjuna of the epic Mahabharata and is dedicated to the deity Maha Vishnu also reverently known as Sree Poornathrayeesa.

This is the most important festival held in the temple and is characterised by a majestic procession of brilliantly caparisoned elephants

 
Kochi

taken out on the fourth day of the eight day festival. Other proceedings include a golden pot being kept on a raised platform and it is popularly believed that the people who make offerings here, are blessed by good luck.

Thousands of devotees flock to the Poornathrayeesa Temple on the occasion of this festival. During the festival there are classical music programs and Kathakali performances. The Kathakali begins around midnight and goes on until the early hours of the morning.

 
 
Festival Alerts

 

Christmas in India:
Christmas is celebrated in India with great fervor. Come December and the preparations for Christmas gain momentum in Christian homes throughout the country.

Christmas trees are lovingly decorated by entire families. Covered by ‘snow’ and a delightful variety of colorful and glittering Christmas baubles such as gold and silver stars - bright red figures of Santa Claus - delicate angels and bright red - emerald green - blue and gold balls bobbing from the deep green branches of the Christmas tree. However Christmas celebrations vary in different parts of India. In certain regions small clay oil-lamps - mango leaves etc are used as Christmas decorations and mango and banana trees are decorated.

The festivities culminate on Christmas Day with people attending Mass & then enjoying a sumptuous Christmas lunch. Families and friends get together and a general air of celebration permeates predominantly Christian communities such as those in Kerala.

  Festival Alerts

 

Easy Tours of India
US Office : 10,000 Research Blvd. Suite 250 , The Arboretum, Austin, TX 78759, Toll Free – 877 821 4603
India Offices: Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Cochin, Ranthambhore.


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