While there are many comfortable properties one can book during a visit to Amritsar, if you look a little closer, you will also come across stunning havelis that have been beautifully restored to provide a luxurious stay for travellers. Some are over 100-years old and there are few that stand tall for more than 200 years, and each with its own intriguing family history to tell. In our recent trip to Amritsar, we decided to explore some of the city’s old havelis through Airbnb and chanced upon Ranjit’s Svaasa.
Run by a royal family of Amritsar (descendants of Rai Bahadur Rattan Chand Mehra), the heritage property is a beautiful blend of old world charm and modern aesthetics. Be it the lounge or the suites, each is done-up tastefully to provide you luxurious comfort. If you love woodwork then you are sure to find yourself envying the vintage range of wooden furniture parked in all corners of the property as well as in the rooms. I wanted to take them all back home!
Walk through the corridor from the reception and you get a glimpse of the family’s seven generation of members. You can only imagine the grand life they lived, remnants of which still hold so much charm. The royal twins, Abhimanyu and Vishal, are more than happy to share tales of their great grandfather’s time. Over a soulful cup of Gulab Green Tea, I listen intently to how their great grandfather had divided his properties among his children not based on gender or hierarchy, but luck. Being forward thinking at that time, he employed the method of ‘pick up chits’ to let luck decide their fate. There were many more fascinating stories centring around him!
Abhimanyu is a chef by profession, who along with his mother manages the property, which also houses a spa. The menu is thoughtful, especially the section on Royal Recipes, which includes slow-cooked lamb, whole tandoori fish, keema kofta curry and more delicacies. Having a sweet tooth, a dessert from the menu that immediately caught my attention was the Rum Baked Apple with Stuffed Gulab Jamun. Plumply stuffed with crumbled Gulab Jamun, packed with a good dose of rum and served with vanilla ice cream, it was a delicious treat.
Cut to the present. On seeing a pack of apples and craving for a good dessert, I decided to recreate Abhimanyu’s apple dessert. Unlike his recipe, I did away with the apple peels and poached them for a minute in red wine (you can also use rum or whisky) to lend in colour and taste, and make the flesh moist, which I thought was lacking in Abhimanyu’s recipe. Then I cooked the scooped out apples (while making the hollow) with butter, brown sugar and wine until thickened, before mixing in the crumbled Gulab Jamun and chopped nuts to stuff the apples. After baking them for a while, they turned out to be a delectable treat – moist and sinful!
Here’s the recipe:
2 big-sized apples, halved
4 Gulab Jamuns
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped almonds
- Using a small knife, work at the centre of each apple half to create a hollow space. Dig enough to make the casing deep and even. Chop the scooped out apple into small pieces.
- Heat wine in a small saucepan and place the apples. Let them soak the wine and soften, about 2 minutes. Drain and keep aside to cool.
- In another pan, heat butter and cook the chopped apples along with brown sugar. Pour in the wine from the other pan. Cook till the apples soften, and the mixture is slightly syrupy.
- Using a perforated spoon, transfer the chopped apples into a bowl, leaving behind the syrup. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Mix in crumbled Gulab Jamun and nuts, and stuff the mixture in the poached apples.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree C for 15 minutes and serve warm by topping them with the syrup.