Anthony Bourdain in Rajasthan: 5 Spots Where Tony Ate
Located in northwest India, Rajasthan is known as the land of palaces and kings. Along with the Punjab, it sits along the border of Pakistan, and looks like a storybook landscape of mountaintop castles and forts. Rajasthan is unique in both its culture and cuisine, and for this reason, Tony Bourdain was drawn to explore the history and sample the unique flavors of this Indian state.
Anthony Bourdain visited Rajasthan to film season 2 (episode 9) of No Reservations; it was his only on-screen visit to the region, though one of several he took to India (including other states like Punjab to the north and Kerala further south).
If you’re planning an India itinerary and love the idea of following in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Rajasthan, you’ll be quite pleased: there are plenty of places that he at which you can too. Below is a guide to the places where Tony Bourdain ate in Udaipur and Jaisalmer, as well as one in between. Get ready to try a completely new set of dishes and flavors by visiting and eating Rajasthan – even if you think you know Indian food well.
Want to watch the episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Rajasthan?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon and Hulu.
Natraj Hotel (Udaipur)
Never one to shy away from voicing his opinions on vegetarian food, Bourdain is pleasantly surprised with the variety and flavor of the dishes on display at this locally renowned establishment. Enjoying a traditional thali meal (‘round plate’), he is served an array of dishes, including lentils, okra, potatoes, pickles, curds, beans, and rice, together with both poppadom and chapati bread types.
Tony even states this is the “best vegetarian meal I can remember having,” a testament to the skill and expertise on display here.
Taj Lake Palace (Udaipur)
In contrast to his vegetarian meal, Anthony’s next stop takes him to the spectacular Taj Lake Palace, situated as you might expect in the middle of the breathtaking Lake Pichola. Here he is welcomed as a guest of the local Maharana, himself an experienced chef, who demonstrates a traditional meat-based curry preparation.
Red chilies, freshly ground spices, chunks of goat and red onion are cooked in ghee (Indian clarified butter), the meat itself smoked gently to absorb maximum flavor. Tony is also reminded to never cook such a dish in a non-stick pan – the burning itself is an important component of said flavor.
Following on from this, Bourdain retires to the Palace Bar, where he is served a signature Bombay Sapphire Martini – a couple of ounces of Bombay Sapphire gin, a dash of Vermouth, and topped with a gorgonzola and mint stuffed olive.
Leaving Udaipur behind, Anthony next embarks on a bone-rattling rooftop bus ride across the desert plains toward the city of Jaisalmer. Enroute, he stops at a roadside eatery for a cup of masala chai, tea brewed with fresh herbs including cinnamon and yet more cardamom, and a bowl of fried lentils and corn covered with curds and grated tamarind.
Marudhar Bhojnalya (Jaisalmer)
For such a long journey, a second pitstop is required and this time finds Bourdain at the Marudhar Bhojnalya restaurant. Another location specializing in vegetarian curry, Tony enjoys a mix of spicy dishes, together with a few slices of paratha, oven-baked bread, stuffed with potato and paneer cheese, as well as sampling the local drink chhaachh, which is similar to buttermilk mixed with salt, cumin, and coriander.
Bhang Shop (Jaisalmer)
Once settled and having explored Jaisalmer, the world’s only living fort, Anthony tracks down a local delicacy – bhang lassi. This cannabis curd-based drink flavored with sugar is a renowned drink both amongst the locals and within the international hippy traveler community and is the perfect accompaniment (together with one or two cannabis cookies) for Bourdain as he watches the sunset on the dunes in this magical land, it’s a bleak monochromatic desert filled with flashes of vibrant living color.
As you can tell, the foods of Rajasthan vary substantially from other parts of India – and that’s why it’s worth a visit! Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Rajasthan? Let me know in the comments below!