Feast on the lal maas and daal baati churma of Rajasthan at the food festival at Novotel, along with some lesser known delicacies. I can feel the warmth of Rajasthan as I walk into Zaffran at Hotel Novotel in Vishaqkhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Colourful umbrellas, puppets and a flamboyantly turbaned staff greet me.

A medley of flavours tantalise me and sets me up for the indulgence, I hope, will follow. The a-la-carte menu stops me in my tracks as I see nothing I can recognise, but chef Mohabat Singh Panwar comes to my rescue and points out the signature dishes of Rajasthan I simply must try.

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“The Rajasthani cuisine is as much about food as it is about love and playing the perfect host. You have to sink into every dish and relish it,” instructs the chef, who has been specially flown in from Udaipur for the festival. He runs a restaurant back home, called Jhumar, beside Fateh Sagar Lake in Udaipur.

So the feast begins with the badami shorba, a mild soup peppered with diced almonds. During the conversation with the chef I learn that another popular appetizer in Rajasthan is the makki ki raab (a drink made from broken corn and buttermilk). “It is one of the most popular and beloved winter drink,” he says, but he is not serving it here because Visakhapatnam is sultry and far from cold.

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The main course arrives with the bati, churma and laal maas. The vegetarian version of it is the daal, bati and churma which is a complete meal in itself. The fiery laal maas is the quintessential Rajasthani dish. It makes your eyes water, but the flavours keep you going! The bati and churma may add some relief to the heat.

There is plenty for vegetarians. The typical ker sangri ki sabzi, the gatte ki sabzi made with gram flour…they are quite perfect with the makki ki roti served with lashings of butter.

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There is some serious calorific desserts to contend with like the lacy ghevar that is made of refined flour, ghee and milk and then soaked in sugar syrup.

It is served with the milky rabdi poured over it. #KhabarLive