Beyond The Thali Rajasthan Food Trail

Beyond The Thali Rajasthan Food Trail
Highlights

Today no menu of a multicuisine restaurant is complete without the laal maas and no chaat counter is worth its salt if it does not serve kachori, dahi bade and jalebis. And when one says Rajasthani cuisine it usually features the famous thali.

Today no menu of a multicuisine restaurant is complete without the laal maas and no chaat counter is worth its salt if it does not serve kachori, dahi bade and jalebis. And when one says Rajasthani cuisine it usually features the famous thali.

Now and then Ghewar is sourced from a local vendor to be served as a speciality. How can we not mention the numerous sweet shops mostly known by the informally formal brand name – Balaji, that have on display the various desserts including the burfis, kalakand in addition to kachoris and jalebis.

Never mind the use of Vanaspati in the place of desi ghee, the strange looking black masala that one finds when they chew into the kachoris or the sorry-looking curd poured onto the bland bada that is famously served in the name of Rajasthani food. The main feature of authentic Rajasthani food is that there is no long line up of spices used. Most of the dishes have mild flavouring of zeera, ajwain, saunf and dry coriander and a generous amount of ginger-garlic paste.

And then most preparations use either desi ghee (unadulterated home-made clarified butter) or mustard oil, explains consultant chef Mujeebur Rahman of Kitchenette Awadh, who conceptualised the Rajasthani Food Festival at Novotel Hyderabad. He, along with his team of special cooks, served up a treat of Rajasthani food that was quite revealing in many ways.

For one, while the food, especially the baatis of dal baati churma that were fried and kept in ghee and jalebis fried in ghee and served with a topping of rabri, were flavour-rich and yet not overpoweringly so. The baati is crushed in daal (we had it with the black daal; it goes with any daal that is made creamy and flavoursome) and mixed with the sweet churma tasted heavenly and we realised that using ghee does not mean dousing the dish so much that after a couple of bites the dish sits heavy on the tummy and flavour becomes nauseating.

After all these years of eating Rajasthani thalis that invariably include the ker sangri and ghatte ki sabji, not to forget the kadhi, it was refreshing to look beyond the obvious. Pittor ki sabzi, for example, is a yummy combination of steamed besan mildly spiked with spices cut into pieces and served with yoghurt curry.

Haldi ki sabzi – the raw turmeric tubers cooked in gravy is another interesting dish. And then there are the variants of kachoris using onion, mashed potato and even mewa (khova); the kebabs like maas ke soole and charkha murg that are uniquely endowed with not a plethora of spices, but just dried coriander, zeera and ginger garlic paste and the masala chilla (the signature Rajasthani pancake made from besan and served with garlic chutney) – With right e x p o s u r e this could have been the dosa of the North, says Chef Rahman.

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