There is not really a dearth of vegetarian food eateries in the City but when one gets to know about a restaurant at The Ashok serving only Jain, Marwari or to broaden the genre say Rajasthani food; the expectations rise.
A page dedicated to the meaning of the name Shraman (one who exerts or endeavours) in the menu gets appreciation but the hunger pangs are too strong to read through the whole of it.
The traditional drinks Keri Panna, Khas Aur Paan Ka Sherbet and Kala Khatta are ordered first to quench the thirst.
A sip of the first two and the mind imagines food on its way to the table.
A homemade preparation of aam panna flavoured with roasted cumin seeds steals the hearts as the flavour of crushed and drained beetle leaves tantalises the tongue in the sherbet.
Though the latter drink looks like plain green water and devoid of gulkand (what is usually included by other restaurants), it is an instant hit!
The Kala Khatta is more or less like a sorbet that allows Metrolife to get distracted by the intricate carving on the table.
It looks linked to the Rajasthani culture due to the use of vibrant enamel work peculiar to the region.
Meanwhile the Jodhpuri Mirch Ka Pakora and Subj Dahi Wali Tikki help concentrate on food.
Segmented in the Marwari and Jain categories for starters respectively, both have subtle flavours that can be relished with each bite and at a slow pace.
While the pakora gets spicy at the end, the tikki remains crunchy due to a coating of cornflakes before it is fried.
In the Marwari section itself, the Dhokla Aur Khandvi Ki Chaat is nothing unusual and doused excessively in saunth (red chutney) that makes it extra sweet!
The same saunth, however, plays a vital role to enhance the taste of Dahi Gujjiya – bhallas made of urad dal with a stuffing of cashew nuts and shaped like a gujiya; much light and less tangy than its North Indian version.
It tastes good with golden brown Ajwaini Tamater Poori!
This curd delicacy is accompanied with the traditional Marwari - Sangri Ki Subji and Bhindi Masala; Jaini - Bhuttey Ka Bhartha.
In the absence of a Marwari Thali, as per our order, we make do with these curries which have also been prepared in traditional Rajasthani homes.
While the Sangri Ki Subji leaves a typical bitter aftertaste, the Bhindi Masala is not spicy enough for a North Indian palate.
Surprisingly, the Bhuttey Ka Bhartha turns out to be unusually good since American corns in a curry thickened with inclusion of mashed corn in tomato gravy works wonders.
To the credit of the regional cuisine, the breads are not ordinary.
Specially the Churi Parantha which has a finely thin texture with grains of moong dhuli dal visible in the gram flour. It is crisp and crunchy to the core.
The melted rabri on the Ghewar Malai Mishri lowers the expectations with the dessert.
But the Shahi Tukra battles for the top post against the amazing (and ghee-dripping) Dal Bati Churma.
The rich rabri topped on fried bread loafs, tastes gooey with a garnish of pista and almonds in the dessert. A perfect Indian sweet!