Dec 122012

Lunch in Rural Rajasthan- A Thali to be cherished


On our second day during the Tal Chapar visit, Mr. Poonia was kind enough to take us to a section that technically is outside of the sanctuary, but has a lot of rare birds coming.  The challenge is this section is near mines where limestone and other minerals are being constantly taken out, leading to loss of vegetation and habitat for the birds. Fortunately no new mines are being allowed in the area and hopefully, the current ones will also be stopped soon. Just look at the picture of the Butterflies and you will know what mining does to the green earth. One can clearly see the difference between the land that has been mined and one that was not touched by the earth-moving equipment. We saw a sparrow couple trying to find a nesting place because there were hardly any trees

in the mined area, the male was carrying a feather for the nest and the female was examining a discarded Tyre to see if a nest can be made in it. I was very happy to click the pictures of them as they are rare in cities like Hyderabad. But this post is more about the big heart of folks from Rural Rajasthan, whom I have not mentioned I any of the earlier posts about our visit to Rajasthan.

mining in rajasthan

Butterflies near open mines in Tal Chapar Rajasthan

We reached the boundary of the mines early morning and have just had some tea with biscuits with the idea that we will come back by lunchtime to the Tal Chapar forest rest house ( The food there, by the way, is awesome, especially the Kachoris). But we were so engrossed in watching rare birds and clicking their pictures that we totally lost the sense of time. Soon all of us explorers were famished and we were almost 45 minutes away from the guest house.

male sparrow in Tal Chapar rajasthan

Male Sparrow looking for a nesting place

sparrow looking for nesting place

Female sparrow inspecting a Tyre for nesting

We found a small shelter kind of thing next to the mines, the guys in it knew Mr. Poonia and wished him in chaste Rajasthani, which we could not understand but could make out that they are requesting him to rest for some time as it was very hot. We all liked the idea and settled in the small room that the guys were using. There was only one small bed in it but they soon kept some dari (bed sheet) on the floor for us.

Bajra growing in field in Tal chapar Rajasthan

Bajra or Millet in Field

We settled and had the last remaining drops of water from our bottles. One of the guys in the settlement asked us if we would like to eat something, hungry we all agreed and the 3 men in the room started making some bajra rotis for us. (The millet was grown in the field right next to us) One of them went to a field close by where apparently his family lived.

Soon three thalis were ready for us, since we were 6 in the group, three of us took the first round of eating and I continued to click some pictures outside. What a difference shade can make in the desert! The temperature difference between outside and inside must have been a minimum of 7-10 degree Celsius.  Once the first group had food, the guys cleaned the thalis and brought food for us. I must say this was the best thali I have had ever in my life.  We had chach (buttermilk), Bajre ke rotti (Bread made of millet), some local vegetables, raw onions and chutney (sauce). But the best part was the owner of the hut, a boy of around 17-18 was treating us as his family guest and insisting on taking some more. Needless to say, this sumptuous meal was too much for us city-bred folks and soon we were unable to eat even one morsel more.

traditional food of rajasthan

Real Thali from Rajasthan – Bajara Roti, Kair Sangri subzi, Teet Ka achar, Chach, onions, and lime all grown locally

After the meal, we asked the boy, why they don’t have enough plates for the guest and how he manages to run dhaba in such an isolated place. His answer opened our eyes and made us understand when they say in Rajasthan, ” Padharo Mhare Desh

Sirjee, this is not a  hotel, we just live here to take care of our fields, since you people were hungry so we offered you food. This is not our business we keep some atta etc. here to cook for ourselves and vegetables we just take from our fields, but I do hope  you liked our simple food ”. All this while smiling shyly.



Shree Surat Singh Poonia- Assistant Conservator of Forests

We could barely mutter thanks with a feeble smile before getting in our cars to come back to the guest house. Trust me friends this experience of a having a home cooked food in rural Rajasthan in a small cabin next to the fields I will not forget for the rest of my life. In this post I would once again like to thank  Shree Surat Singh Poonia,  Assistant Conservator of Forests, who was kind enough to share his knowledge about birds and other flora and fauna of Tal Chapar with us and helped us in finding some very rare birds. As I have mentioned earlier this trip  was with Shreeram MV one of the founders of Darter, a specialized photography + travel company, they are organizing more trips to Tal Chapar in January and if you want to look for some beautiful birds with experts helping  you,  I would suggest you get in touch with him for the same.

Earlier Posts in this series

  22 Responses to “Thali for lunch in Rural Rajasthan in Tal Chapar”

Comments (22)
  1. Well shared . its true rajasthani food is one of the best food available in india. Especially, thali providing by restaurant or dhabas.i ate Rajasthani thali at Radhey ki haveli and found its one of best thani i ever had. so visit once to feel the same experience which i had in last month.

  2. Excellent Photos ,really I like your Menu of Food,Amazing all images taken by you!

  3. Great experience you had with the famed hospitality of Rajasthani people. the vegetables are sangri ki sabzi and dele ka achar from what I can see in the photo.

  4. Sounds lovely! i love dhaba-food, but this must’ve been way better, it being someone’s home! 🙂
    I once did a road trip from Chennai to Puttaparthi and stopped along the way somewhere to eat, at some really shady-looking dhaba where I was the only female. The food was pretty darn excellent though! 😀

  5. Great pictures of Rajasthani food.

  6. The photos are very nice, Rajasthan is also called as the Land of Kings, Land of Royalty, Land of Bravery

  7. I think hospitality can make all the difference when travelling. I once came across a husband-wife stonecutter team in Bhuj during my field work. It was summer and I was exhausted from the heat at 9.00 in the morning. This couple insisted on sharing their tea with me and assured me that hot tea was better that water to fight tiredness. And it did. I still remember this warmth and generosity after nearly 20 years.

    And all this talk aboout food has made me hungry !

  8. What an amazing experience! Besides the food, the wamth and hospitality the village folk infuse in it makes it so much more fulfilling.

  9. wow what a shot that male sparrow pic is beautiful.U must really love nature a lot,when I read ur blog I could easily visualize what ur saying. Hope u enjoyed the lovely rajastani thali.I love it so much.

  10. Oh, that’s so sweet. It was prepared and offered with great love. That’s why it turned out to be your best thali ever. I’m not much of a vegetable person, but those veggies there really do look delicious.
    Nice to see pictures of sparrows. Aren’t they becoming rare birds in many parts of India. Really sad.

    • Hi dNambiar….you are right love makes the food special.. .no wonder we never stop raving about the home cooked food by our moms as it is made with love 🙂

      Sparrows are slowly making a comeback…but a lot needs to be done now also… thanks.

  11. Nice captures. Btw, am not able to follow you. There is some problem with your feeds.

    • Thanks Niranjan.. there was some problem as I migrated from Blogger to WordPress… can you please try again? or try the email option..Thanks…
      Indiblogger also faced the same issue 🙁

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