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Food Philosophy And Practices: Offerings From Savista Retreat

The term food evokes, at once, reactions ranging from the most basic requirement of sustaining bodily energy, to meeting nuanced nutritional needs, to refined ways of satisfying the palate.

Among various enriching life experiences, travel has emerged as a significant one in recent times;  and currently, one catchword in the travel lexicon is experiential travel. The food philosophy and practices offered at a travel destination are one of the hallmarks of the enriching experience that travel affords. And Savista Retreat, an organic farm hotel in Jaipur, stands out as a unique destination in this regard.

The food served at Savista is deeply rooted in the ancient Indian food
philosophy.  The underlying concept  is to balance flavour and texture, with digestion and nutrition. The cooking process in every dish attempts to *enhance nutrition* (through combining complex carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins and
micronutrients),  *aid digestion* (through  the various condiments added serially during the cooking process ) and, simultaneously, *pay homage to all the four basic tastes* (hot, sour, salty and sweet). This is how the regional cuisines in India have traditionally evolved.  At Savista, the food that is served is drawn from both north and south India and represents the best practices of the philosophy of these two distinct food cultures.

Another aspect of ancient Indian culinary wisdom is that good food starts
with pure and fresh ingredients. The farm-to-fork practices at this eco-resort just outside of Jaipur city are based on the fact that the spices, condiments, cereals and  vegetables used are grown on the premises itself, free of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The milk for yoghurt is fetched from neighbouring farms whose buffaloes/cows are fed on green grass from the grounds of this eco-resort. Breakfast eggs are from Savista’s own free-range poultry.

A significant aspect of ancient Indian food philosophy is vegetarianism. Based on the availability of a wide range of vegetables and plant protein sources, and the traditionally rich stock  of spices used in the country, the food served at Savista is vegetarian.

The traditional slow-cooking process followed is classically home-style:layered and textured, yet deceptively simple and calculated to retain freshness and natural flavours and sit lightly on the stomach.

Integration with local communities, grassroots cultural exchange, and minimal carbon footprint are essential components of sustainable and experiential travel, seen as integral to the growth of the modern tourism sector in this era of rapid climate change.

All staff at Savista are drawn from the local village community.  Unlike hotels all over the world where cooks tend to be men, at this hotel in Jaipur food is looked upon in a refreshingly different manner.  The cook(s) here are women from the local community. It is they who process and prepare the food in their own homes, which makes them masters in the art of traditional Indian cooking. Savista Retreat has skilfully tapped into this traditional local resource. By orienting them into modern sector cooking,and skilling them to the requirements of a diverse clientele, Savista has contributed to local capacity building, and augmentation of household incomes, by increasing women’s participation in the food supply chain.

Finally, the ancient Indian food philosophy contains a suggestion that food should be served with love and generosity, and eaten in an aesthetic and calm atmosphere.

By employing and empowering simple village folk from within its surrounding community, for whom cooking and serving is an act of love, this classic farm-to-fork travel and food destination in Jaipur ensures a no-frills, genuinely caring dining experience for its guests, one that is nested in the natural environment and cultural values of the place.

As for an aesthetic environment, the Hibiscus Court – the restaurant  at Savista Retreat – is set in the midst of gardens and gazebos.  Unlike the boxed spaces characteristic of most urban restaurants,  this boutique countryside hotel offers a dining experience marked by rustic elegance and natural beauty.  Breakfast is served to the  sound of twittering birds, leisurely  lunches may be had under shady trees, and candle-lit dinners under the stars are unforgettably accompanied the fragrance of leaf sap and wood smoke and flowering Hibiscus. Depending on the time of day and climatic conditions, dining is either alfresco or indoors. The indoor fireplaces that come alive during the winter months use the fragrant branches of the Khejri trees on the Savista estate.

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