Jaipur’s culinary landscape has seen a remarkable transformation over the last decade. With many cafés, micro-breweries, patisseries, cocktail bars, and speciality cuisine restaurants opening up in the city, its gastronomic offerings have been elevated to a whole new level. While the charm of dishes quintessential to Jaipur’s culinary heritage, like pyaaz ki kachori, laal maas, daal baati and lassi continues to remain intact, the dining scene in Jaipur has expanded far beyond these classics and now offers menus from across the globe. Millennials and Gen Z-ers, enriched by the exposure to international cultures through travel, OTT platforms and social media, have played a pivotal role in steering this culinary evolution.
A unique feature of Jaipur is that premium dining spaces can be found nestled inside unconventional locations such as alleys of the old walled city, bazaars, forts, havelis and ancestral houses. Peelwa Garden, a residential neighbourhood situated near the city’s renowned Moti Doongri temple, is one such location in Jaipur. From the 1980s until 2017, going here was synonymous with attending a wedding; their sprawling lawn served as a popular party venue. The place now stands as a thriving culinary hub housing five premium dining spaces, including two cafés, a microbrewery, a bar and a Pan Asian restaurant.
The roots of this metamorphosis go back to 2018, when the Peelwa brothers, Deep Singh Peelwa and Himmat Singh Peelwa made a strategic decision to switch from giving their well-manicured lawns for wedding bookings to building a suave bar and kitchen, Townsend. The ambiance of the restro-bar takes inspiration from a garrison. Talking about the idea behind opening a culinary space here, they say: “The larger plan is to build a cultural space, including a museum, dedicated to our father who fought in the Second World War on behalf of the State Forces. As a thriving food and beverage scene plays a huge role in drawing people to any place, we first prioritised establishing quality culinary offerings here.”
Originally hailing from Peelwa, a jagir (feudal land grant) near Jodhpur, the Peelwa family moved to the seven-bigha land in Jaipur in 1921 and got four identical houses built there. In the 1980s, following a family wedding that took place on the premises, the gardens of two houses began to be let out for weddings. Presently, three of these four houses have dining spaces within their compound.
Dishing out gourmet offerings like dal burrata and smoked mushroom galauti, Townsend swiftly claimed its status as one of the most buzzing and sought-after hangout spots. In addition to the classic drinks like Whiskey Sour and Margarita, the place also offers cocktails crafted with molecular mixology. Some of the bestselling ones include Ambrosia, a gin concoction with orange, kaffir leaves and lime, topped with a kaffir foam; and The Pink City, a vodka and litchi drink topped with homemade rose syrup and a lime rose caviar.
Occupying the floors above Townsend, are Taruveda and Tsosha. While the all day diner Taruveda is hugely popular for its highly Instagrammable aesthetics and offerings like pizzas, pastas, salads and steaks, Tsosha is a restaurant well known for its authentic Pan Asian fare like miso soup, laksa, ramen bowls and an array of dim sums and sushi. One can also indulge in desserts, like darsaan and matcha cheese cake.
While the transformation of Peelwa Garden was under way, aspiring pastry chef and a member of the Peelwa family Sanyogita Singh Rathore, was honing her baking skills at The Oberoi in Gurgaon. In 2022, she left her job and along with her sister, Swati, opened a patisserie, O’baque. They revamped the storage rooms and garage of their 50-year-old ancestral house in Peelwa Garden.
Within a few months of its opening in March 2022, O’baque became well known for its bagels, Korean buns, croissant sandwiches and other baked treats. However, the patisserie prefers to make limited batches of their offerings, especially the non-vegetarian eats as there is a huge demand for eggless options among people in Jaipur. “Although the food scene is changing in Jaipur, there is still a long way to go when it comes to acceptance and awareness about global flavours. For our Korean buns, which are a best seller, I altered the recipe to include milk instead of eggs,” says Rathore.
Subsequently, Clock Tower, a prominent Gurugram microbrewery, set up shop in Jaipur in December 2022. Spread across two floors with expansive indoor and outdoor spaces, it is the go-to place for craft beer lovers in the city. Connoisseurs highly recommend savouring the rose beer here complemented by verdant views of the Peelwa garden and its resident peacocks.
What makes this dining destination stand out from other buzzing neighbourhoods of the city is that the Peelwa families still call it home. They reside in the bungalows adjoining the culinary establishments. This distinctive feature imparts a unique character to the space. It blends the city's old-world charm with its contemporary facets, embodying the fusion of tradition and modernity that defines Jaipur.
Tusharika Singh is a Jaipur-based lifestyle writer.