By Nmami Agarwal
Rajasthan is the land of Maharajas and famous for its remarkable forts in Indian history, stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Rajasthani food has its sheer creativity and exquisite taste with a touch of royal tradition which leaves an incredible influence while preparing some of the most delectable dishes.
The Royal Heritage of Cuisine in Rajasthan
The royal families of Rajasthan were famous for their lavish expenditure and there extravagant lifestyles. There was also a deep-rooted culture of competition where royal households competed with each other to see which was the most prosperous and magnificent. It was in the brilliant kitchens of these royal families where some of the richest and most flavorful dishes found their origins. Each royal gharana had a huge kitchen which usually had no economic restraints and minimum of ten to twelve chefs, called khansamas who worked there.
Agriculture Practice in Rajasthan
Rajasthanis cultivated hardy grains like millet, maize, jowar and ragi in which less water is used and lasted much longer in storage. The plantation of wheat and vegetables was restricted to the more fertile areas. Rajasthani cuisine is also characterized by its extensive and perfect use of spices, as it can be grown and cultivated easily.
When talking about the cultivation aspects, grains that are being produced on the land of Rajasthan holds great levels of dietary fiber required for wholesome breakfast and for an overall health, important for healthy bowel functioning that helps reducing constipation. Other than that, B vitamins found in grains, help your body release energy from protein, fat and carbs.
Flavors, Ingredients and Techniques of Rajasthani cuisine
Rajasthani cuisine is often dairy-based in which milk, buttermilk and clarified butter appears extensively and for that reason Rajasthani cuisine is known for its richness. Garlic paste, ginger paste, onions, chilies and curd are extravagantly used in saucy curries.
Ingredients like tamarind, coriander, cumin, sesame, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cardamom, carom seeds, amchoor (dried mango powder), cinnamon, nigella seeds, aniseed, cloves, asafetida, dried fenugreek and most importantly, red chilies, are used to create intricate recipes that burst with flavors. Generally these ingredients are freshly grinded and are immediately added to the food, so that they retain their texture and natural flavor.
Another surprising preparation in Rajasthan cuisine is ‘Dungar cooking, which is known for its smokiness. At the end of cooking time, dishes are transferred to a dish with a lid. A burned coal is placed in the center of the bowl and ghee (clarified butter) is poured over it. The lid is then tightly closed so that the smoke is trapped for thirty minutes and infuses into the food, making it a delectable specialty.
The technique of cooking particularly in Rajasthan is inspired by the war like nature and khad cooking or pit cooking– the method wherein the food is prepared in pits dug out in the sand. This slow cooking method was also created to ensure that the fire could not be seen by enemy groups.
Further coming to Rajasthani flavor, can be found in their implausible range of chutneys, from tomato to tamarind. They have also perfected the art of making papad, (thin, crisp disc-shaped savory confection made from rice flour) which can last for up to months. Snacks like kachori, (most famous ones are onion and mawa kachoris )are the stars of the street food culture in Rajasthan.
Popular Rajasthani Dishes
- Dal baati: In this recipe lentils- a good source of protein and carbs are served alongside grilled wheat flour dough. This is the signature dish of Rajasthan and if you love to have simple rural food than it can be the perfect choice. Ghee is another important ingredient used in the recipe which enhance the taste of this dish and also good for heart health when used in moderation.
- Gatte ki Sabzi & Gatte ka Pulao/Khichdi: Gatte is the local name of besan (gram flour) dumplings which is very healthy and a good source of protein and fiber. Its curry or sabzi is prepared by a perfect combination of curd and spices, resulting in a lip-smacking spicy and tangy flavored dish. These besan balls are mixed with rice and spices to cook gate ka pulao or khichdi which is equally lip-smacking and a wholesome meal with protein, fiber and vitamins.
- Missi roti and Bajra roti: These rotis are a regular part of a Rajasthani meal and sometimes variations are made in it by adding methi leaves or coriander leaves to flavor the dough including additional nutrition. Due to the rich combination of minerals and protein these rotis have numerous health benefits. Missi Roti are eaten throughout the year whereas in the winters bajra roti are preferred often served with spicy vegetables or tongue tickling launji to make a delicious meal.
- Panchmel Ki Sabzi: Panchmel means the combination of five. In this recipe five different vegetables are cooked. The perfect combination of five different vegetables is Gavarfali, Chawli, capsicum, cucumber and carrot which are full of dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. One can add spices in the recipe as per their taste. The addition of dried mango powder can complement a wonderful taste to this recipe.
- Ker Sangri: This typical desert vegetable, Ker Sangri is a kind of a pickle which is eaten as a tangy side dish. This desert dish exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and also rich in minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. The exotic taste of this Rajasthani dish tickles the tongue of the epicureans.
- Churma Ladoo: No Rajasthani meal is complete without Churma Ladoos .These desi ghee ladoos served after dal bati and is prepared by rolling choorma made from whole wheat flour into small balls. It’s a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Such mouthwatering ladoos are a must try as these can be the most delicious sweet you could ever have.
Over to you:
The scrumptious Rajasthani cuisine mesmerizes the taste buds of everyone by the diversity of food it offers. And the best possible way to experience the various influences and flavors of this cuisine is to taste few and it will definitely going to be an unforgettable experience.