Rajasthan is the land of vivid colors, magnificent palaces, captivating architecture and mouth-watering food. Rajasthani cuisine is a form of art that in its own way is exquisite. It is interesting to note that Rajasthan cuisine is influenced by many factors – from ecological to social, geographical, cultural and historical.
The warring lifestyle of the state influenced the cuisine as well as the ingredient availability. Therefore, dishes that could be stored without heating for several days were preferred.
Geographically, due to its hot and arid climate, the state experiences water scarcity and fresh green vegetables, and this in turn influenced this land’s cuisine.
Bikaner, Barmer, and Jaisalmer’s desert belt cooks prefer to use clarified butter (ghee), milk, and buttermilk with as little water as possible. Rajasthani Cuisine also has Rajput rulers ‘Royal Age elements. This region’s natives prefer a wide range of chutneys made from local spices such as mint, coriander, turmeric, and garlic. The various forms of sweets are an integral part of Rajasthan’s cuisine.
The passion for hunting in Rajasthan’s Royal Maharajas also shaped Rajasthan’s culinary. Cooking the hunted animals or game cooking was considered respected as it required cleaning, cutting and cooking skills that were not so easily acquired. For some of the selected Royal guests, some of the Maharajas savored their passion for cooking the game themselves. It was males who used to prepare non-vegetarian in many of the Rajput households.
Mughal cuisine made one of the notable influences on the cuisine. The ingredients needed for Mughal’s lavish cuisine, however, were not so easily available. A little effect was also seen in British cuisine. It was, however, more about eating methods on the table than making Rajasthani dishes blander.
After the invasions of Pathani, the barbecue was introduced. The barbecue art of conventional skewered boneless lamb or Sula-smoked kebab that can be prepared by 11 distinguished ways has now been perfectly refined.
Besides all these, there is Jodhpur’s Maheshwaris vegetarian cooking. One such creation is Salwar’s Maharaja’s unique Jungle Maas. Among the Maharajas, it was quite favourite. Due to the scarcity of exotic ingredients, the hunted game was simply cooked in clear butter, salt and plenty of hot red chilies. Rajasthan’s Marwaris were also vegetarian, but in their preparation method their cuisine was richer, similar to that of Rajputs. It is forbidden to use garlic and onion in their cooking as they believe these excite the blood.
Then there were the Jains, who would not eat after sunset apart from being vegetarian. Their food had to be devoid of the important ingredients of cooking, garlic, and onion from Rajasthani.
The Bishnois, known for preserving animal and plant life, were vegetarians, as were the Vaishnavas, Lord Krishna’s followers. There were even few royal kitchens of Rajput where only vegetarian meals were cooked.
So, here are few of our favourite picks from the food bowl of Rajasthan which are sure to make your drool over!
It’s Rajasthan’s signature dish and it’s hard if one is a foodie and not have heard of it. The specialty of this dish is that for its preparation it hardly requires any water. The Baati consists of ground wheat flour dough balls baked in wood fire by burying the baati under a thick layer of ash with a fire kindling on the top. After a couple of minutes the cooked baati is dipped in ghee ready to be served with lentils.
It is said that the leaders of Rajput used to leave the chunked dough buried in the sand before leaving for the war during the time of battles. The scorching heat of the sun used to turn them into baked chunks by the time they returned. The fact is that the idea behind the dish came up from the Kingdom of Mewar. With time, several variations have been made in the dish in order to add to the delicacy their own flavor.
It was during Mewar’s Gupta Dynasty settlement that Panchmel Dal and Baati’s combination gained popularity. Panchmeel Dal was a royal delicacy made with 5 nutritional lentils for the Guptas, namely Moong Dal, Chana Dal, Toor Dal, Masoor Dal, and Urad Dal. Cooked with a tadka of cumin, cloves, and other spices, these lentils were then served with Baatis.
During the famines, the Marwar region’s natives were left to survive only with these berries and beans as nothing else would grow with little or no water in the shallow soil. They would dry and store them all year round in large containers. Before cooking for a few hours, just soak in water, and these beans and berries plump back to their original size and taste, ready to be mixed with oil and spices – this is how Rajasthan’s unique dish Ker Sangri was invented. They make Indian breads an excellent and delicious accompaniment.
No Indian meal is complete without a luscious sweet in the end. A honeycomb resembling sweet prepared with ghee, flour, paneer and sugar syrup, this disc shaped sweet comes in various varieties like Malai Ghevar (Ghevar with a layer of fresh cream), Mava Ghevar (milk fudge ghevar) and Plain Ghevar. This delectable dish makes to almost every Rajasthani ceremony and is a special delicacy during the time of Teej festival.
A unique version of kachori, Mawa Kachori is filled with dry fruits and khoya or mava (milk fudge), deep fried and then dipped in sugar syrup. One must indulge in this dessert after lunch/dinner. If you say you don’t have a sweet tooth, we say you haven’t tried this one yet.
By the variety of food it offers, the Rajashtani cuisine mesmerizes the taste buds. To taste it yourself is the best way to experience the culinary delight – and is definitely going to be an incredible experience.