In today's episode we will take you to a charming and serene getaway high up in the mountains. During our Kumaon Food Tour we got to experience the warm hospitality and wholesome pahadi food at Jilling Estate situated above the Matial village.
It is a densely wooded estate owned by the Lall family. Ex-fighter pilot Steve Lall, together with his wife Parvati, daughter Nandini and some of their family members, have been zealously nurturing the bountiful flora and fauna of this huge estate full of oak, chestnut and deodar trees. Scattered over the hillside are four wood and stone cottages that are super cosy and peaceful.
To reach the place one has to undertake a 40 mins walk uphill through a set trail. We reached the family home with Ramlalji, the slender, old, inspiring and genial porter whose agility and fitness was a matter of envy for us. While walking through the woods we realised that there are numerous natural trails that call for exploration. But we were here to learn about the food that is consumed here high up in the mountains.
The heartwarming smiles and the warm and gracious gestures of Steve and his family immediately made us feel at home. Since we were all famished from the arduous trek, we straight away joined Steve for a gratifying breakfast. There was kadhi, karela, lauki, salad, pickle, roti and rice. Relishing this breakfast spread in the resplendent and jovial company of Steve was indeed a memorable experience because he had so many fascinating stories about his life and the place up his sleeves.
After a brief break Nandini led us to the backyard where her mother, maternal aunts and Ramesh Ji were gearing up for the dinner preparation. We started with the ram karele ki sabzi and moved to rajma, aalu ka thechua, bhangire ki chutney, gaddu ki sabzi, kumaoni raita and chawal ka halwa. We also got to experience a beautiful sunset in the mountains. During the meal preparation we gathered so many stories from all of them, especially Nandini, our warm, gentle and gracious hostess. She too has a very fascinating upbringing up here in the wilderness.
Finally we joined the whole family for dinner and it was such a fun experience. The meal was delicious and enjoying it with the sprinkle of laughter and stories made it so special.