The mere mention of Rajasthan evokes colourful, vivid and lively images in one’s mind. This state in India is renowned for its rich culture, history, heritage, tourist destinations and of course food.
Every year Rajasthan gets millions of tourists who are left enchanted by the heritage and culture of the state but what makes their trip most memorable is the lip smacking cuisine of the state. Be it Indians or foreigners the food of this state has bowled all of them over, and it has a lot to offer to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
The State of Rajasthan………………
Rajasthan is known as the Land of the Kings. This state brings out the best of colorful and exotic elements people associate with India. The state is home to the Rajput warriors and they have been ruling the state for around 1000 years.
The Rajput were always embroiled in so much infighting among themselves that they could never present a united front to their aggressors. All these squabbles led to a weakening of their kingdoms and eventually they ended up becoming vassal states under the Mughal empire.
But the Rajput are famous for their sense of honour and bravery. They would not give up in face of adversity and would fight till their last breath to save their honour. And the Rajput also had the tradition of Jauhar wherein once the male members of the kingdom had gone to fight the war with no hope for return, the females would lit up a huge fire and committed suicide by jumping into the fire.
After Mughals became weak and Rajput could gain back some of their lost independence, the British came into the scene and the Rajput kings in order to remain independently signed treaties with the British owing their allegiance to them. But these alliances ultimately led to the downfall of the Rajput kings as they go influenced by the British way of living remained involved in activities like playing polo, gambling, horse racing, traveling abroad and staying in expensive hotels etc.
After India gained independence the government had to make deal with the Rajput rulers to join in the newly independent country and were allowed to keep their titles, property holdings and were paid a stipend. But during the 1970s their titles and the stipend were abolished by the government and it also confiscated their property rights. As a result of which many rulers were forced to convert their palaces to heritage hotels, museums.
But despite all this troubled past, Rajasthan has still maintained its grandeur, charm, the vibrancy is still alive in its culture and people and the state still continue to leave people spellbound.
Located in the north-western region of India the Rajasthan is predominantly a desert region covering around 10.4% of the area in the country. The desert region of the state is known as Thar desert and it shares its border with Pakistan in the west. Other states which surround Rajasthan and with which it shares its border are Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh.
Rajasthan is India’s most sought after tourist destination and offers potpourri of experiences to the visitors.
Rajasthan has a very rich folk culture
The people there are still very much attached to their village roots.
The state has a very rustic feel and the colours and vibrancy of its rich folk tradition and culture are what make it special.
Rajasthan has a rich culture of arts, music, dance, architecture which lend the state a unique quality.
The music and dance in Rajasthan have a distinct feel to it. Songs are basically folk based and depict the simple day-to-day happenings. Anything from historical battles to love stories to heroic tales about various rulers is sung as songs. The music is also catchy and very rhythmic based on classical tunes.
The state has some of the famous folk dance forms like Kalbeliya, Ghoomar, etc.
Likewise, Rajasthan is also famous for its handicrafts, paintings studded with semi-precious stones, textiles, tie and dye printing art, blue pottery and various other kinds of art and craft forms.
The state is famed for its forts and palaces built by the erstwhile rulers. The intricate carvings on the walls of these palaces and forts make them an architectural marvel. Buildings made of sandstone are native to Rajasthan. Amer fort, Chittorgarh fort, Kumbhalgarh, Jantar Mantar, Dilwara temples are some of the renowned architectural wonders of the state.
People in Rajasthan are very deeply attached to their culture and still follow age old customs and practices. They are very particular when it comes to preserving and following their tradition.
They still follow rituals and customs which have been passed on from generations in their families take pride in their tradition.
Considering the rich past that Rajasthan has, it is not wrong to say that it is a treasure trove of culture, heritage, tradition etc. The festivals celebrated in the state are an example of its colourful and vibrant culture. They add colour to the barren landscape of this desert state. It is as if the entire place comes alive during the time of these festivals and fairs.
Gangaur, Teej, Marwar Festival, Baneshwar Fair, Nagaur Festival etc. are some of the famous festivals of the state. Apart from the traditional festivals, the state also hosts fairs like Camel fair, Pushkar fair, Urs fair.
These festivals and fairs bring out the best of Rajasthani culture and tradition.
Being a desert state Rajasthan has a scarcity of vegetables and other ingredients but still, the cuisine of the state is finger licking good with a wide array of sumptuous dishes. Great food combined with the warm hospitality of the people make dining in Rajasthan a memorable experience.
The food in Rajasthan is known for its fiery taste because of the generous amount of red chilies used in it. The cuisine is not restricted to only vegetarian dishes and the state boasts of many non-vegetarian delicacies too. The aromatic spices, red chilies, use of ghee or clarified butter and dry fruits all make the cuisine a royal cuisine which is relished by one and all.
Food was considered a serious business in Rajasthan and during ancient times the royal cooks took cooking to the level of an art form. The royal cooks were encouraged to experiment and as a result, the recipes used by the royal cooks were kept a closely guarded secret and were only passed on from generation to generation.
The living conditions and the availability of the ingredients had a significant influence on the cooking in Rajasthan. The scarcity of water, green vegetables all had some effect on cooking in the region.
In regions like Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Barmer which are desert areas, cooks use buttermilk, milk and clarified butter or ghee for cooking purposes to cover up for the scarcity of water. Also since the region is dry a lot of ghee or butter is used in cooking food.
Rajasthan is a big state and each region has its own specialty or special food item which people identify with that particular region.
Like the state capital, Jaipur is famous for sweets like Ghevar, Kalakand, Mishri Mawa.
Bikaner, on the other hand, is renowned for its Bhujiya, papads and badi.
Bharatpur region is famed for the milk sweets made there.
Then the Mewar region of the state namely Udaipur city region is credited for a barbecue delicacies called Sooley and Dil Jani.
Jodhpur is known for its Mirchi Bada, Lassi and Kachoris.
The regions of Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Ajmer, Alwar are all famous for the sweets like Laddoo, Sohan Halva, Mawa etc.
Bajre ki Khichdi— A dish made from millet and is served with a lot of ghee or clarified butter along with vegetables, lentil etc.
Dal Bati— A dish prepared from lentils which are called Dal and roasted balls of dough which are called Bati. This dish is usually served along with a lot of other dishes and chapatti and rice.
Gatte ki Sabzi— Dish prepared using gram flour. It has a spicy gravy with steamed roundels of gram flour.
Ker Sangri—Ker is a hard desert berry which is cooked along with the Sangri vegetable and is very yummy to taste. It is only made in Rajasthan.
Lal Maas (red meat)— A very spicy dish made from red meat and is a Rajasthani specialty.
Lassi—A refreshing drink made from curd. It may be either sweet or salty.
Pyaaz Kachori—A round shaped fried dish made from flour and filled with a tasty filling of onion and spices. It is served as a snack along with chutney.
Safed Maas—Meat delicacy made in white gravy to which cashew nuts, almonds, white pepper, poppy seeds and coconut are added.
Rajasthani sweets like Ghevar, Malpua, Laddoo, Sohan Halva, Mishri Mava, Churma etc. are also famed and are best enjoyed after a scrumptious meal.
Ingredients used in the Rajasthani cuisine
Desi Ghee or clarified butter
The Flavour profile of Rajasthani cuisine
Rajasthani cuisine has its own unique flavour and is made with simple ingredients.
The only excess they indulge in is a lot of ghee or oil which they use for cooking. As it is a dry area so inhabitants make generous use of ghee so as to keep their skin supple and prevent it from going dry.
Being a fairly big state Rajasthan has varied cuisines. There are regions where non-vegetarian dishes will be found in plenty but then there are regions which are inhabited by people who don’t even use onion and garlic in their cooking.
One can find a wide array of dishes ranging from elaborate and heavy gravy base to simple and even grilled or barbecued in Rajasthan.
Rajasthan has a lot of variety to offer to people who come visiting the state.
Myths and Facts
Many people think of Rajasthan as a vegetarian state, but the fact is that it has a lot to offer to non-vegetarians as well. In fact, some of the popular dishes from Rajasthan are non-vegetarian dishes.
All Rajput were thought to be non-vegetarians but in actuality, many Rajput households cooked purely vegetarian food.
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