Jaisalmer and Jodhpur are the quintessential melting pots for all things Rajasthan. These vibrant cities have established an ethos of royalty and exuberance. And as major centres in the princely state, they were always the place where people from all walks of life would come together. The same philosophy extended into the cuisine of Rajasthan. There are so many influences from different eras of Rajasthan’s colorful history that it simply merited a post from us.
In this article, we’re going to give you an insight into the evolution of Rajasthan’s cuisine, along with some pointers on what you absolutely must try on your Rajasthan visit. You can also get to savor some of these delicacies at our desert camp in Jodhpur!
Food in the desert always has to make do with a lack of fresh vegetables, and it reflects in the cuisine of Rajasthan. A certain ingenuity and skill goes into preparing cuisine in Rajasthan. In the days of old, warriors would prepare foods that lasted several days at a stretch and so preservation was also an essential component here. For these reasons, the culinary fare here consists largely of lentil and meat based dishes, with vegetables being a seasonal preparation or region dependent. Things are also slower in the desert; meals would take several hours to be cooked to retain flavor and freshness and bring out the best of whatever the cooks would use.
Rajasthani cuisine has origins from the Thar itself, along with influences from the Mughals, Pashtun Muslims and even British. The Mughals introduced many exotic ingredients that would age well in Rajasthan despite the conditions while the Pashtuns brought with them the art of barbecuing meat on skewers, a quick and efficient method of serving food to the militia. The British influences on Rajasthani food arrived much later and while there was no direct impact on the food itself, certain elements like the cookstaff and serving staff and dining traditions at the table like the usage of napkins and cutlery.
Meat was especially a centerpiece of most meals by Rajasthan’s royalty. The ever legendary “laal maas” was born as a result of game hunting by the Rajput maharajas. Along with their guests, the maharajas would go on day-long hunting expeditions. Upon successfully finding prey, they would dispatch it and then cook the meat themselves! Meat preparations in Rajasthan are traditionally carried out by the men of the household or the palace kitchens. Spices are at the centerpiece of all these various preparations; Jodhpur and Jaisalmer are known for their heady cooking that always has a subtle yet distinct chilli kick to it, along with so many more spices that grow well in the harsh conditions of the Thar.
However there are also large sections of people that are entirely vegetarian in the desert. The Bishnois and Maheshwaris that vow never to touch an animal’s life and consider themselves guardians of the wildlife around Manvar have their own unique take on preparing meatless dishes. Mostly lentil and legume based. Ker Sangri is a good example of cleverly utilizing what is available in the desert; wild berries mixed with sangri beans make for a dish that has a wide range of flavors despite only 2 main ingredients.
If your taste buds have been tantalized enough by reading the lines above then we have some Rajasthani cuisine recommendations that you must experience on your Rajasthan visit, and at our desert camp in Jodhpur.
Laal Maas: The quintessential Rajasthani meat preparation. Laal maas translates to red meat and in this case refers to goat meat. The meat is prepared over a fire for hours together with a variety of spices, butter and salt. Of course, chillies dominate the spice mix and laal maas is the perfect representation of the cuisine of Rajasthan: A hot dish that makes you sweat in the desert sun!
Dal Baati Churma: Another classic Rajasthani preparation that’s a symbol of the ingenuity in Rajasthani cooking. A slow cooked lentil stew paired with hard balls of wheat and chickpea flour that are baked directly over coals. Providing for a hearty, nutritious and delicious meal in the desert. The baati once pre-cooked can last for days on end making it the ideal dish to carry for people who ventured into the Thar!
Pyaaz Kachori: Finally, a traditional Rajasthan snack and breakfast component. Kachoris are ubiquitous with Rajasthan; these fried dough saucers with a filling of fried onions and other palatable toppings are irresistible when walking through the streets of Jaisalmer or Jodhpur. When paired with the traditional spicy and sweet chutneys, you have a snack that is a perfect representation of exactly what the cuisine of Rajasthan feels like.