Best for Mughal opulence
The Raj Mahal at The Oberoi Rajvilas hotel has to be one of the world’s most exquisite fine-dining experiences. Open only during the cooler months (October–April), this opulent dining room serves rarely-found Indian delicacies. From the white linen tablecloths and explosions of red roses inside the main hall to the ornate Mughal arches and splendid fireplaces, the Raj Mahal emanates regal grandeur.
Best for market shopping
Chandpole Bazaar is the go-to spot for vibrant displays of traditional, freshly ground Indian spices. Popular picks, including turmeric, cardamom, coriander, cumin and black pepper are all found here, alongside such Rajasthani staples as nigella seeds, carom seeds, asafoetida and bright red local chillies, whole or powdered.
Best for street food
Street food is almost a religion in Jaipur, a city that has long been a tourist destination for Indian and Western travellers alike. Local vendors serve up the most sensational tongue-tingling dishes that are often better than those found in restaurants. Must-try foods include raj kachori (spicy, stuffed ‘tacos’ that are a favourite during Diwali), mathri (a flaky, cumin-flavoured biscuit), mirchi pakora (deep-fried potato-stuffed peppers) and kati rolls (spicy wraps filled with meat and vegetables).
Top-notch street food vendors include Gupta’s Food Point (C Scheme, 4, near Bagadia Bhawan, Subhash Marg); Rawat Misthan Bhandar & Restaurant (opposite Polovictory Cinema, Station Road, Sindhi Camp); and Chawla’s Restaurant
(G 1, Shree Gopal Towers, Krishna Marg).
Best for five-star dining
The decadent Peshwari at the ITC Hotel is one of my favourite places to indulge in some outstanding North Indian cuisine. This luxury hotel with its lavish lobby was built to shield royal women from the public. Here, you can try grilled, spiced meats and a range of artisan Indian breads, plus the famed dal bukhara (slow, tandoor-cooked dal).
Published in the Jul/Aug 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)