Food for the bravehearts

Food for the bravehearts
Highlights

How on earth the dry and arid land of Rajasthan produced such robust and vibrant cuisine is anyone\'s guess. The non-vegetarian delicacies of the kings and the vegetarian delights of the Marwari community make Rajasthan a culinary paradise. For people like me who hardly travel, the only way to taste traditional Rajasthani food is at the restaurants. The same is the case with the ones who do travel to Jaipur, etc. and have tasted the local cuisine.

How on earth the dry and arid land of Rajasthan produced such robust and vibrant cuisine is anyone's guess. The non-vegetarian delicacies of the kings and the vegetarian delights of the Marwari community make Rajasthan a culinary paradise. For people like me who hardly travel, the only way to taste traditional Rajasthani food is at the restaurants. The same is the case with the ones who do travel to Jaipur, etc. and have tasted the local cuisine.


So far the closest to the best can be said to have been achieved by the elaborate vegetarian thali served by Khandani Rajasthani outlets; a couple of them that have opened shop in Hyderabad, which is where one gets the taste of simpleton's Rajasthani meal - Papad Ki Sabji, Sweet Dal, Spicy Dal, Kadi, Makai ki Roti, Dahi Paneer Kofta.

It can be called the beginner's guide to Rajasthani food as one gets to taste the maximum number of dishes for best pricing ever. Going back a few months, I also remember Chef Amar Singh from Udaipur's Lake Palace who had come down to Taj Falaknuma's Adaa restaurant. He treated us to the Lal Maas, Kachri Buthaan, Murgh Thandai Kebab, Ghee soaked Batis amongst several others that the royalty of the desert land continue to patronise.

The Batis (Round balls made of wheat) deep fried in ghee and served with dal (a special recipe using a variety of dals and seasoned with ghee) and the choorma (powdered and sweetened version of bati) can be called the signature dish and is usually never missed and served by one and all. 'Dal Baati Choorma has a story behind it.

It is believed that the dish goes back to the days of famine, when there was scarcity of food - for a single meal of dal baati choorma would keep a guy going for the rest of the day and the it is also long lasting - the baatis can be made and kept for longer time, explains Chef Jaswant from ITC Rajputana, Jaipur who came down to the city of Nizams offering the cuisine of his land.

He calls his week-long festival of Rajasthani food, 'Sodawas' - 'Welcome Home' as he promises to serve goodies from Rajasthani homes at ITC Kakatiya's coffee shop, Deccan Pavilion. The food uses a lot of dairy products, obviously to fill in for the scarcity of vegetables. There are ofcourse ker and sangri - that are usually served as dry preparations.

Chef Jaswant served the Sangri ka Shammi where the sangri is soaked in warm water and ground to paste along with mint, coriander, green chillies and Rajasthani masala and pan fried. The Sangri has a characteristic bitter taste that if unpalatable can be reduced by frying the paste in desi ghee (the key ingredient of the cuisine), which is what Chef Jaswant had done.

The Thar desert is one place where they use wheat flour in the curries - the papad wali sabzi and Chakki Ka Saag that use the onions and tomatoes and hung curd for the gravy flavoured with ginger garlic and garam masala are a couple of such dishes.

The ingredients are more or less similar like many other cuisines of India - the style of preparation is what varies.The characteristc feature of Rajasthani cuisine is its simple method of preparation. Take the Junglee Maas for example, all it needs is meat, chilli powder, salt and a lot of oil, most of food is rustic and long lasting.

The dishes that came from the kitchens of the royalty like Murgh Jodhpuri, Laal Maas too are simple yet rich in terms of ingredients, shares the Rajasthani speciality chef. The desserts too follow the same principle - simple, yet extremely delicious and full of energy - Malpua, Ghewar, Rabri Jalebi bank on wholesome ingredients. All said and done, the fact is that Rajasthani food is not for the meek hearted.
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