A speciality of Rajasthan is the batti, the vatya of Sanskrit, and a hand-roasted ball of wheat, which is cracked open and eaten with plenty of ghee. Crisp rotis, called bhakri, of bajra and jowar are also made on a griddle, and there is even a besan roti with a little wheat flour added to the dough. In fact, in Rajasthan, besan and mung dal flour are the base batters for a whole series of crisp-fried savories like the mangodi, gatti and papdi (sometimes consisting of fenugreek).
There are thin and thick papads called khelada, stuffed kachori and vada and dahi vada, besides spicy farsan snacks resembling those of adjacent Gujarat.
Many vegetables are sun-dried for a year and then used as gattey-ka-saag, just like certain berries (like kair and Debra), fruits (bijoda), stems and roots (garmar) and even certain aromatic twigs (sanghar). Even many sweets are pulse-based products like besan-barfi, sheera of mung dal and churma laddoos.
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.
Perhaps the best-known Rajasthani food is the combination of dal, bati and churma (dal is lentils; bati is baked wheat ball; and churma is powdered sweetened cereal), but for the adventurous traveler, willing to experiment, there is a lot of variety available. Besides, each region is distinguished by its popular sweet - Mawa Kachori from Jodhpur, Alwar ka Mawa, Malpuas from Pushkar, Rasogullas from Bikaner, Ghevar from Jaipur to name a few Contrary to the accepted belief, the people of Rajasthan also eat non vegetarian food. The unique creation of the Maharaja of Salwar is the Junglee Maas. Junglee maas was a great favourite among the Maharajas and due to the scarcity of exotic ingredients in the camp kitchen, the game brought in from the hunt was simply cooked in pure ghee, salt and plenty of red chillies. However, now this dish has been adapted to the less controversial ingredients like kid/lamb, pork or poultry.
The personal recipes of the royal Khansama still rotates around their generations and are the highlights of regal gatherings. Each state of Rajasthan had their own style of the recipes, and is continued in the Rajput households. The males of the family prepared the non-vegetarian delicacies in the family. Some of the Maharajas apart from being great hunters relished the passion of cooking the hunted animal (shikar) themselves for their guests.
The Rajasthani cooking was influenced by the war -like lifestyle of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this region. Cooking in Rajasthan has its own distinctive taste and the simplest ingredients go into the preparation of most dishes. Dearth of water and fresh green vegetables has had a huge impact on the cooking of Rajasthan especially in the desert areas of Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Barmer. Instead of water the women prefer to use milk, buttermilk and clarified butter. Dried lentils and beans from indigenous plants are used liberally. Gram flour is a major ingredient and is used to make delicacies like khata, ghatta ki sabzi and pakodi. The staple grains of Rajasthan are bajra and corn, which are used to make rotis, rabdi and kheechdi. The popular chutneys of Rajasthan are made from locally available spices like turmeric, coriander, mint and garlic.
Natural and Geographical Influence
Rajasthan is a desert region, therefore, food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred, more out of necessity than choice. Insufficiency of water and fresh green vegetables has a great impact on the cooking practices. In the desert belt of Jaisalmer, Barmer and Bikaner, cooks make minimum use of water and prefer to use more milk, buttermilk and clarified butter. Dried lentils, beans from indigenous plants like Sangri, Ker etc. are used generously.
The personal eating choices of people vary a lot. The Rajput warriors were inclined towards hunting, and cooking the game at night. The Vaishnavas, followers of Krishna, were strictly vegetarian, just like the Bishnois, a community - known for their passion to conserve both animal and plant life. Even among Rajputs, there were enough royal kitchens where only vegetarian food was cooked.
The Marwaris of Rajasthan also eat vegetarian food, but their cuisine, is richer in its method of preparation when compared to the Rajputs. The Jains are not only vegetarians, but also the ones who do not eat after sundown, and whose food is devoid of garlic and onions that are, otherwise, important ingredients in the Rajasthani pot.
Chief Delicacies of Rajasthan
Gram flour is a major ingredient of Rajasthani food and is used to make some of the delicacies like Khata, Gatte Ki Sabzi and Pakodi. Powdered lentils are used for Mangodi and Papad. Bajra and corn are for preparations of Rabdi, Khichdi and Rotis.
A soup of legumes, flavored with red chilly peppers, yogurt or milk and sometimes a vegetable such as Okra, Jackfruit, Eggplant, Mustard or Fenugreek leaf are often eaten by the Rajasthani people. The wealthy can afford to eat meat regularly, but many abstain for religious reasons. Though the Rajasthani kitchen was able to create much from little, it also had to cater to different communities with their own ritual practices.
The popular chutneys of Rajasthan are made from locally available spices like turmeric, coriander, mint and garlic. Perhaps the best-known Rajasthani food is the combination of dalbati and churma but for people in love with food, there is a wide range offered.
The chapatti is a flat, unleavened bread which serves almost as a spoon, for it is used as a scoop to transfer food to the mouth. It complements both the texture and flavors of the food it scoops up, absorbing runny sauces, balancing strong flavors and smoothness.
Puris are delicious, fried wheat bubbles, which have varied uses; as snacks, scoops for food and as a complement to hot spices. Family members typically sit on the floor and are served piping hot food by the lady of the house.
Khud Khargosh (Hare or rabbit meat cooked in a pit) is a Rajput speciality during summer. The hare is skinned and stuffed with spices, wrapped in dough and finally in layers of mud-soaked cloth. The ambrosial result is meat perfectly blended with the spices and dough.
The Indian Kitchen
The simple Indian Kitchen has a brick-and-mud fireplace. Food is usually cooked over a wood or charcoal fire, in clay, brass, or copper utensils.
Lassi is a summer beverage that is cold in nature. It is prepared by churning natural yogurt to remove the butter content.
Dal-baati (dumplings with a filling, roasted among hot coals) and choorma(dry, flaky, sweet crumb pudding) are the universal favorites. The non-vegetarian dishes include soola or barbecued meats, marinated with a local vegetable. But it is the sweets that the Rajasthani freak out on. Each part of the State has its own speciality. So whichever city you are in just ask for the local speciality and enjoy it. Most hotels have excellent restaurants that serve a selection of Rajasthani dishes as well as international favorites.
Besides spicy flavors, each region is well known for its popular sweets. People of Rajasthan love to eat sweets. Jalebis and Fafda with a large glass of hot milk in the morning is the favorite sweet of the Rajasthani people.
Rajasthan, being one of the big states of India, has many regions. Each region is known for its special sweets. Jodhpur and Jaisalmer are famous for Laddoos, Pushkar for Malapuas, Bikaner for Rasogullas, Udaipur for Dil Jani, Jaipur for Mishri Mawa and Ghevar, Jodhpur for Mawa Katchori, Ajmer for Sohan Halwa, Alwar for Mawa and ghevar, and mouth watering jalebis can be found in all cities.