There is no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown led to a steep rise in the number of home kitchens across the country. And Jaipur followed suit with an array of home bakers and home chefs starting their own kitchens and bakery lines. One such home kitchen, Pratap Bhawan Cuisine, took the opportunity to bring to the fore exquisite home-cooked Rajasthani cuisine using traditional recipes that have been passed down from generations yet perfectly suit modern tastes and palate.
Started by Himanshu Rathore and his wife Deepti, the kitchen is an ode to the culinary prowess of Himanshu’s mother as well as the traditional cooking techniques and age-old recipes of their family hailing from Chomu and Nimaj in Rajasthan. It is worth noting that Himanshu, who was formerly a naturalist by profession, has been running Pratap Bhawan as a popular homestay in Jaipur for a decade now.
Talking about his love for food and fondness for cooking, Himanshu says: “I have always loved eating and my mother, Jaikirti was a great cook. We hosted a lot of house parties and our food was always hugely appreciated by the guests. As a child, I used to watch my mother and my maternal grandfather cook and I was always curious to learn cooking. I learned some recipes from my Nanosa and at the age of 12 I cooked my first dish, Kachri Murgh. However, I mastered most of the cooking from my mother’s recipes.”
Reminiscing about his youth and his days at the Mayo College boarding school in Ajmer, Himanshu adds: “I was the only one in my entire batch who knew how to cook chicken and mutton in class ten. And as a result, my friends and seniors wanted me to cook at all the parties. Then when I went to college we used to have big house parties and I was always the chef.” It is safe to say that Himanshu’s family, friends and even acquaintances were well aware of his cooking skills even before he started his home kitchen.
Himanshu’s friends often suggested that he should open a restaurant but he was never in favour of this idea. “I knew hired cooks will not be able to replicate our family’s recipes. But when lockdown happened and I saw that some people are opening home kitchens, the idea immediately struck a chord with me. Along with my wife Deepti, I started a kitchen with mutton and chicken pickles and shaami kebabs on offer”, tells the avid cook.
Though the kitchen received a great response, there was a persistent demand for main course dishes like Laal Maas. This eventually paved the way for sumptuous additions to the menu. ‘Khadh Maas’, which is essentially curry cut mutton marinated in spices, kachri and yoghurt and wrapped in 9 rotis with ladles of ghee and baked to perfection, is one of the specials on the menu. Another delicacy on the menu is the ‘Bhunwa Maas’ – succulent mutton cooked with brown onions, dry masalas, yoghurt and fresh coriander. For roll lovers, chicken and mutton kebabs wrapped in egg parathas and flavoured with mint chutney and onions make for a delectable treat. The mutton and chicken pickles are also another unique item on the menu. With a shelf life of two months, they are being shipped across the country.
Talking about what makes his cuisine stand out from the crowd, Himanshu says: “The unique part about our cuisine is that all the recipes are our own creations which are either passed down across generations or are crafted by me. Furthermore, I do the entire cooking on my own and the staff only helps me in the process. These two things definitely make our food stand out.”
While Pratap Bhawan has already been organizing culinary experiences like cooking classes and home dining for tourists for the past many years, they now also cater for small parties and events. Since the food is made fresh on order, pre-ordering a few hours in advance is mandatory.