Okay! What comes to your mind when we talk about Rajasthan? It must be colorfully dressed up camels, sandy structures and sand all over, whimsical puppet shows , majestic forts and royal darbaars. On the whole, Rajasthan is a very opulent state when it comes to culture. But it is equally rich when we talk about the ‘food of Rajasthan’.
Like the state itself, its people and their culture, Rajasthan has got uncountable scrumptious dishes in its kitty. The food of Rajasthan is essentially affected by its topography. Due to lack of leafy green vegetables and water, Rajasthani people use lentils, legumes, dairy products such as paneer, milk, and curd prominently in their delicacies. You will be amazed to know that Rajasthani people cook food in traditional ‘rasaois’ rather than in those modern modular kitchens. Even today in Rajasthan, people cook food on an oven made up of bricks and mud populary known as ‘mud chullah’ or ‘mitti ka chullah’ that burns on coals and dried dung of buffaloes and camels. Scarcity of fresh herbs and condiments lead to restricted use of these and pronounced use of spices that can be used dry and powdered. Red chilies of Rajasthan are famous worldwide. They can be used wholly or in powdered form. Other spices that are commonly used are turmeric, fennel, cardamom, cloves, dhaniya powder, kasoori methi and many more. For the fresh and natural flavor, all the spices are grounded just before adding.
Peeping more into Rajasthani cuisine, Daal Baati Churma is the most famous and the most favored of all Rajasthani cuisines. Traditionally, churma is a sweet dish served with panchmel dal which is cooked over charcoal or tandoor and tempered with generous amount of ghee, red chilies. Baatis are ball shaped bread made from wheat flour dough. Dough is made into balls followed by baking or frying. Besides the normal baati , Rajasthani also eat ‘masala baatis’ which are actually stuffed baatis filled with potatoes, peas, and dry fruits.
Other popular Rajasthani dishes include ‘Dahi Shorba’ (frothy yogurt based soup), Tamatar ka Shorba (tomato soup flavored with Indian spices such as dhaniya and cumin) that are served at the starting to commence a meal. Other popular dish of the region is ‘Ker Sangri’ that is a zesty dish cooked with ‘ker’ and ‘sangaria’ beans grown in the arid land of Jaisalmer. ‘ker sangri’ is cooked in butter milk and raisins. In many of the Rajasthani dishes, gravy is made of yogurt and gram flour. ‘besan ke gatte’ and ‘kadhi’ are an impeccable example of such Rajasthani dishes. Rajasthan, at the same time, is famous for its pickles and papads too. Rajasthanis add tang to their food with ‘tamatar ki chutney’, ‘pudhina chutney’, ‘aam ki launji’, ‘lehsun ki chutney’ and ‘imli ki chutney’. They also incorporate different varieties of ‘papads’ and ‘pakodis’ which , beside adding tang to the food , digest it quickly.
Some Rajasthani follow strictly a vegetarian diet while Rajputs of Rajasthan are fond of having meaty meals. In Rajasthan women consider meat preparation to be impure and hence men are engaged in meat cooking activity themselves. Rajasthanis classify meat into two broad categories : Laal Maans (red meat) and Safed Maans (white meat). Laal Maas is prepared in rich tomato gravy with generous use of spices especially red chili while Safed Maans is prepared stuffing it with dry fruits such as pistachio, raisins, and slow cooked in the gravy of cashew, cardamom, coconut, almonds. Khud Khasrgosh and Sula are the two most famous meat preparation of the region. The influence of Moghul association led the Rajputs to take an interest in the barbequed boneless preparations of tender meat called Kebabs.
While talking about Rajasthan, how can we not talk about sweet meats? Rajasthanis have a unique quality of coupling sweet dishes with the main course. ‘Halwa Puri’ sets the perfect example here. A great use of ‘desi ghee’ characterizes sweets. Rajasthani sweets are usually over cooked and chasni (sugar syrup) based. A variety of Halwas are made in Rajasthan like sooji ka halwa, besan ka halwa. Besan ki chakki is an all time favorite. Pushkar is famous for its Mal Puas while Ajmer is known for Sohan Halwa and Alwar for its mawa. The state is also famous for a variety of ladoos- besan ka ladoo, dal ka ladoo, moti choor ka ladoo, gaund ka ladoo. Gaund ka ladoo is basically eaten during winters. Ghewar of jaipur is probably the most intriguing sweet of the state. The rabri topped jalebi of Rajasthan is legendary. Firni, Kaju Katli, Mawa Kachori are other all time favorite. On the whole Rajasthan is one of the richest states in terms of culture, traditions, food and hospitality. It totally abides by the motto- “Atithi Devo Bhava”.
“ Rangeelo Rajasthan!!”