So what did the Rajput warriors of Rajasthan eat? I always used to dream about life of warriors when I was a teenager. But I was clueless about what they used to have as food. Well, I got partial answers after my Rajasthan trip. Another thing that used to puzzle me was, Rajasthan being a dry and arid state, what kind of vegetables were available for people to make subjis.
Rajput warriors used to go away for weeks and sometimes even months during battles. So they used to carry with them nutritious food like Batti that can last for many days. Rajputs were also game meat eaters and hence a few meat preparations that were prepared in Rajasthani style were very popular. Even though game meat is no longer available, goat meat is used to prepare non veg dishes like Lal maas. Curries and gravies were made richer with milk, cream and yogurt.
Due to the extreme climatic conditions and scarcity of water, Rajasthani cuisine is unique in preparation. Many of the dishes can be shelved for several days and served without heating. Breads are made of conventional staples of the region like jawar, bajra. They mainly use lentils, pulses, legumes etc for making curries. Due to non availability of vegetables, sev(gram flour snack fried in oil), gatte (gram flour dumpling) etc are used instead of vegetables to prepare sabji. To reduce the usage of water for cooking, they make use of milk, butter and buttermilk. It renders a special creamy texture to the curries. Sweets are served along with the main course. Some sweets are region specific like Ghewar of Jaipur, Malpuva of Pushkar and Mawa Kachori of Jodhpur.
Here are few of my favourite picks from my Rajasthan trip:
Dal bati churma – That is one dish that is synonymous with Rajasthan. It is the state food of Rajasthan. It consists of three distinct things- Dal, Bati and churma. Batis are round ball shaped edibles made with wheat flour, cooked in oven or fried in ghee and served with oodles of ghee. Dal that usually accompanies bati is very spicy and made with Panchkuti (chana dal, urad dal, mung dal, mung and toovar dal) or Mung dal alone. Churma is coarse wheat flour cooked with ghee and sugar. There is a place in Udaipur ‘Krishna Dal Bati Restro’ that serves authentic Dal Bati churma.
Ker Sangri – It is a local dish of desert regions of Jaisalmer. Ker is a wild berry that grows in Thar desert and Sangri is dried wild beans. The preparation tastes tangy. Though not very appealing to look at, it tasted heavenly with Bajre ki roti. According to legend, there was a great famine in Rajasthan and the only vegetables that were available were Ker and Sangri. They took it home and prepared with oil and spices. It is since then that this dish became popular in Rajasthan.
Sev tamatar – it is a dish prepared with thick sev (fried gram flour snack) and tomatoes as main ingredient. It was very tasty. We had it in Udaipur from Neelam Restaurant.
Gatte ki sabji – Gatte are cooked gram flour dumplings. It is prepared in a spicy curd gravy. It is very popular dish in Rajasthan and doesn’t require any vegetables. It is available in most of the restaurants.
Gulab jamun sabji – Gulab jamun balls are used to prepare a spicy curry. Yet another rajasthani cuisine which needs no other vegetable
Bajre ki rotti – thick bread variety prepared from flour of bajra. It was unbelievably thick but tasted good with Rajasthani subzis and butter.
Lal maas – Lal maas owes its colour to the hot red chillies. The meat is cooked in hot gravy of tomatoes, chillies, garlic, onion , curd and spices. Traditionally, laal maas used to be made with wild boar or deer. Today, it consists of marinated spicy mutton curry cooked on a low heat.
Mutton saag – Mutton preparation made with spinach and mutton.
Mawa kachori – It is a sweet dish of Jodhpur. Kachoris are stuffed with mawa along with dry fruits and dipped in luscious sugar syrup. Authentic Mawa Kachoris can be had from Janta Sweet home in Jodhpur.
Ghevar rabdi – Ghevar is a crunchy sweet delight. It is honey comb patterned, disc shaped and is made with flour, milk and sugar syrup. Ghevar rabdi has rabdi or condensed milk as topping over it. It is specially prepared during festivals like Teej, Gangaur, Makar Sankranti. The most tasty Ghevar is made by Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar in Jaipur.
Ghottua and Panchadhari laddu – awesome tasting sweets from Dhanraj Rawal Bhatia’s shop in Jaisalmer just outside the main fort gate.
Rajasthani Thali – We had a Rajasthani Thali from Gypsy Restaurant in Jodhpur. They serve 35 dishes with the thali. It was a real King size meal that included some authentic rajasthani dishes and many north indian varieties.
A journey to Rajasthan is incomplete without tasting atleast few of the countless rajasthani cuisines available. You will definitely fall in love with the spicy starters, mouth watering subjis, bread varieties and the crunchy desserts.