Influenced by the availability of the ingredients in the arid region and the hawkish lifestyles of the inhabitants, Rajasthani Cuisine is a magnificent array of delicious dishes marked by their unique Rajasthani flavor. The people of Rajasthan have faced the scarcity of ingredients and learned how to manage in such circumstances. Rajasthani people boast of an extremely rich cuisine which has prospered even when they found it difficult to meet their basic necessities like water and fresh food ingredients.
The Historical Influence
The culinary art in Rajasthan have been greatly affected by the rulers of the state in ancient times. With a passion of hunting, the Maharajas of Rajasthan brought in the art of game cooking which is one of the most respected and difficult to master art form in Rajasthan. Then the Pathans invaded Rajasthan and brought the art of barbequing in the state. There are 11 different ways of lamb skewing itself in Rajasthan. Each of the art is mastered by the regional people. The vegetarians can relish the traditional food brought in by Maheshwaris who don’t even use garlic and onions while cooking. There are many personal royal recipes which are exclusive to Rajasthan.
In India, if you want to experience the culinary art in a royal style, Rajasthani Cuisine is what you need to try.
Eating Style of Rajasthanis
In order to give you an idea about what kind of food would you get to eat in Rajasthani Cuisine, I require telling you about the eating habits of the people of this state. Apart from the effect of war-like lifestyle and geographic location, Rajasthani people have conformed to varied eating habits based on their personal and traditional choices. The Vaishnavs and Bishnois in the state have been averse towards killing animals. Even the Rajupt families, prefer vegetarian food over non veg. Then there are Marwaris who are also vegetarian but their cooking style is quite different from others because of the preparation techniques employed. The food of Jains have always been devoid of garlics, onions etc.
The Rajasthanis, whether vegetarian or non vegetarian, are known for the exotic aroma and high in nutrition food. The secret behind the exotic scent of the food is the use of ghee (clarified butter) in almost all the dishes – be it the mains, desserts or sides. The use of lentils and legumes heighten up the nutritional value of the food.
Also, Rajasthani people make use of different ingredients for the kind of flavor we would want in a dish. For example, we would use tomatoes to make our dish a bit sour. In Rajasthan, they use mango powder. At place of green vegetables, they use different kinds of local berries. All such minute changes in the ingredients add up to the exoticness of the cuisine.
The spices used in the state are usually dry and powdered. The Red Chillies of Rajasthan are famous all over the world. People prefer flavors which can be stored for a large amount of time. There are many other spices like haldi(turmeric), jeera(cumin seeds), saunf(fennel), sukha dhunia(coriander seeds), kalonji(nigella seeds), ajwain(carom seeds), methi dana(fenugreek seeds), soonth(dried ginger), kasoori methi( dried coarsely grinded fenreek leaves), amchoor(dried mango powder), rai(mustard seeds), dalchini(cinnamon), elaichi(cardamom), hing(asfoetida), laung(cloves) etc are avidly used in Rajasthani Cuisine.
Food that you must try in Rajasthan
Rajasthani Cuisine, just like all other North Indian Cuisines, is very popular and a must to try on the list of each foodie. But due to the huge variety of dishes in the cuisine, it becomes impossible for a foodie to try each one out. I seriously get confused, which ones to try and which ones to leave for each dish prepared in Rajasthani Cuisine is equally alluring. But if you are looking for some must haves in the Rajasthani cuisine, these are the ones you should note down:
- Daal Bati Churma: Even my mom, who is totally unaware of Rajasthani Cuisine, knows about Daal Bati Churma. This dish is an inseparable and unavoidable part of the cuisine. This one is actually a whole meal in itself consisting of three things – Daal, Bhati and Churma. Dal is a thin curry consisting of legumes with mild use of spices and lots of ghee. Bhati is a tandoor cooked bread/roll. Churma is prepared with Baatis which are crushed and cooked along with ghee and sugar. The most common preparation in the Rajasthani food takes quite a long time to prepare for each of the three things is cooked separately and each one involves many rounds of cooking. Only a single bite of this dish can give you an idea about the uniqueness of the Rajasthani Cuisine.
- Pickles and Papads: Rajasthan is very popular for the pickles and papads. The pickles and chutneys in Rajasthan range from pudina(mint) chutney, lehsun(garlic) ki chutney, tamatar(tomato) launji etc. Each of the choice morsels taste awesome with the main course meal and have excellent digestive properties. The papads like moong dal papad, pakodis, badis etc are not only used as tidbits but also are used at place of vegetables in main course dishes.
- Luscious Main Course: The main course dishes are utterly pleasing and delicious. The popular ones are Jaisalmeri Chane (chick peas which are cooked in an acerbic gravy), Bharwan Mirch (stuffed big green chillies which are deep fried and then cooked in gravy), Ker Sangri (made from locally available beans Ker and Sangri), Alu ki Shak (a toothsome dish of potatoes), Gatte ki Sabzi (steamed besan(gram flour) sticks in gravy) and Rajasthani Kadhi (curry made using buttermilk and gram flour). The soups of Rajasthan like Tamatar(tomato) Shorba and Dahi(yogurt) shorba are quite popular for their royal taste.
- Non veg: As visible from the eating habits, most of the Rajasthani people prefer vegetarian. However, the Rajputs who loved hunting animals used to prefer non vegetarian food. The food was mostly cooked by men for it was considered impure for women to cook non vegetarian food. The meat dishes in Rajasthan have been classified into two – white meat based and red meat based. The white meat is usually stuffed with dry fruits and is slow cooked in gravy made from dry fruits only. The red meat involves use of spices and is cooked in tomato rich red hot and spicy gravy. Sula(Lamb kebabs which are cooked on a charcoal grill), Laal Maans(Semi Dry curry with spicy pieces of mutton), Kesar Murg(Slow cooked chicken with saffron) and Khudkhasrgosh(Rabbit meat which is cooked in a pit) are the most popular non vegetarian dishes in Rajasthan.
- Sweets: With avid use of butter and ghee(clarified butter), Rajasthani Cuisine have some very popular and toothsome sweet dishes like Halwa Puri, sohan Halwa, Besan ki Chakki, Laduus etc. A few of the dishes are related to traditional festivals of Rajasthan. For example, a dish named Malai Ghevar is specially prepared on the traditional occasion of Teej. Many such traditional dishes are prepared in Rajasthan
I have written so much about Rajasthani Cuisine till now but still, a lot of part is missing. I haven’t mentioned the variety of breads available in Rajasthan, I haven’t mentioned the delicious delights which are exclusively made in Rajasthan from dairy products, I haven’t mentioned the lip smacking snacks like Bhujia, Boondis and Namkeens which are popular all over India and the list goes on and on. There are many white-shoe techniques known only by the people who have spent their life in a Rajasthani kitchen. The variety and uniqueness of Rajasthani Cuisine is too large to be accommodated in such a small article. Rajasthan is a place where a foodie can live for a very long time without being bored for each day, you would have a different dish to try. That’s what Rajasthani Cuisine is.