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Cuisine of Rajasthan


Fascinating Rajasthan Cuisines were influenced by the geomorphology and political conditions of the region of Rajasthan. The availability of all types of food was a rarity here and the preservation of the food was the main criteria because of the desert conditions and war situations of Rajasthan. Rarely has the world seen so rich a cuisine from so little that was available from the land of Rajasthan. While the eastern region of Rajasthan has fertile soil capable of crops of everything from wheat and maize to millets and corn, for much part the desert’s dry terrain, prone to droughts, was incapable of producing even basic necessities of survival. Yet, live and eat they did, creating an exotic cuisine from the soil that threw up a few pulses, crops of millet, and trees with beans that were dried and stored for use when, in the summers, nothing would grow.

Communication and faster means of transportation of Rajasthan have brought in a revolution in the choice of vegetables and fruits that are now available throughout Rajasthan, but this was not always so. Which is why, for the villager, his diet still remains sparse, and consists of dairy produce, bread of millets and accompaniments of gram flour and sour buttermilk which, say dieticians across the world, is a high-protein, low-fat cuisine. Perhaps that is what gives the people of the desert their erect gait and slender build.

Land of Princes, as Rajasthan is called, shows off the royal kitchens of Rajasthan in which the preparation of food was a very complex matter and was raised to the levels of an art form. Thus the 'Khansamas' (the royal cooks) worked in the stately palaces and kept their most enigmatic recipes to themselves. Some recipes were passed on to their descendants and the rest were passed on as skills to the chefs of semi states and the branded hotel companies.


Historical Influence on Cuisine of Rajasthan in India
Rajasthani cooking here has its own unique flavor and the simplest; the most basic of ingredients go into the preparation of most of the dishes in Rajasthan. The cuisine of Rajasthan was highly influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in the desert region in Rajasthan. Scarcity of water and lack of fresh green vegetables also had their effect on Rajasthani cooking. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred, more out of necessity than choice in Rajasthan.

The passion of the Maharajas of Rajasthan for shikar (hunting) has been largely responsible for shaping the culinary art in Rajasthan. In the world of good eating, game cooking is easily the most respected art form in Rajasthan, largely because the skills required to clean, cut and cook game are not easily acquired. With the Pathani invasions, filtered in the art of barbecuing which has now been honed to perfection and the quintessential sula-smoked kebabs or skewered boneless lamb-can be prepared in 11 different ways. On the other hand is the vegetarian cooking of the Maheshwaris of Marwar or Jodhpur in Rajasthan, who do not use even garlic and onions, as these are said to excite the blood.

The personal recipes of the royal KHANSAMA still rotate around their generations and are the highlights of regal gatherings of Rajasthan. Each state of Rajasthan had their own style of the recipes which is continued in the Rajput households. It was mainly the men folks of the family that prepared the non-vegetarian. Some of the Maharajas apart from being great hunters relished the passion of cooking the SHIKARS themselves for their chosen guests and the trend continues among the generation of Rajasthan.


The Cuisine and the Favourites of Rajasthan
In the desert belt of Jaisalmer, Barmer and Bikaner of Rajasthan, cooks use a minimum of water and prefer, instead, to use more milk, buttermilk and clarified butter. A distinct feature of the Maheshwari cooking is the use of mango powder, a suitable substitute for tomatoes, scarce in the desert, and asafoetida, to enhance the taste in the absence of garlic and onions. Dried lentils, beans from indegenous plants like sangri, ker, etc are liberally used. Gram flour is a major ingredient here and is used to make some of the delicacies like khata, gatte ki sabzi, pakodi etc. Powdered lentils are used for mangodi, papad etc. The daily food in Rajasthan typically comprises unleavened bread, made of wheat, barley, millet or maize. Bajra and corn is used all over the state for preparations of rabri, kheechdi and roti. Various chutneys are made from locally available spices like turmeric, coriander, mint and garlic. Perhaps the best known Rajasthani food is the combination of Dal, bati and churma but for the adventurous travelers, willing to experiment, there is a lot of variety available in Rajasthan.

Generally, Rajasthani curries are a brilliant red but they are not as spicy as they look. Most Rajasthani cuisine uses pure ghee (clarified butter) as the medium of cooking. A favourite sweet dish called lapsi is prepared with broken wheat (dalia) sautéed in ghee and sweetened. The wealthy can afford to eat meat regularly in Rajasthan, but many abstain for religious reasons. Though the Rajasthani kitchen was able to create much from little, it had also to cater to different communities with their own ritual observances. You can spice up vacations in Rajasthan by trying out the various chutneys that are made from locally available spices like turmeric, coriander, mint and garlic.

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