Home to the Great Indian Desert, Rajasthan is a far-fetched state in the western part of the Indian sub-continent which shares its border with the much-debated frenemy of the country, Pakistan. Regarded as the country’s largest state by area, Rajasthan is known for its many colors – even the cities here are named after colors – Jaipur is called the Pink city while Jodhpur is known as the Blue city.
Bedouins, authors, poets, and storytellers have been writing tales and folklores about the heritage and desert of Rajasthan since time immemorial. And, travelers, national and international, have been visiting the princely state for as long as tourism has existed. The forts, the safaris, the night camps and the camel rides offer an unforgettable, once-in-lifetime experience to those who visit. However, Rajasthan is famous for one more characteristic, highly significant to human survival – food.
A region’s food is the biggest show of its heritage and culture. Having said that, the desert state of Rajasthan has managed to preserve its cuisine in all its authenticity and divinity. And, so, you can’t leave the state without trying at least a few of these:
Dal Baati Churma
The signature dish of Rajasthan, Dal Baati Churma comprises of three parts – Dal, is the lentil preparation, Baati is the hard, unleavened bread often served in the shape of little balls, and Churma is the brashly ground wheat mixture crumpled and prepared in pure ghee along with jaggery or sugar. The dish is known to have originated in the district of Mewar in ancient times. The dish requires less to no water for preparation. Though you will find the dish being served at almost every restaurant and food joint in the state, a good idea would be try and get invited to a traditional Rajasthani family and enjoy the dish with them.
Another widely popular dish of Rajasthan, Ker Sangri also is a combination of two elements – Ker, which is a tangy and peppery wild berry, and Sangri, which is a commonly grown long bean in Jaisalmer and Barmer. Yet another dish that can be cooked with or without water, Ker Sangri pairs wonderful with chapattis (Indian bread) made of Bajra (pearl millets).
In a land which is majorly inhabited by vegetarians, Laal Maans is an obnoxious, violent rule breaker. Laal, meaning Red in English, refers to the thick red chilli paste which is the main ingredient in cooking the Maans i.e. the meat. The traditional delicacy, as it was prepared a few hundred years ago, included the red chilli paste, some widely available whole spices, and meat, though much of it has been transformed now with the addition of tomatoes, onions, and other helping components. Handi, in Jaipur, is one of the most famous restaurants serving this delicacy, but mind you! It is not for the faint-hearted for the heat and spice in this one-of-its kind Rajasthani dish can literally ring the bells in your ears and make you go calling for the fire brigade.
Used synonymously for sweets, Ghevar Rabri is the king of all sweets and sweet dishes, at least in Rajasthan. Even though you don’t need a reason to try this dish when in the state, there is no occasion in Rajasthan which is deemed complete without a round of Ghevar Rabri in the house. Originally from Jaipur, the dish is made by soaking flour in milk, ghee, and topped with almond slices.
If this hasn’t triggered your appetite to the moon yet, then you are most either a robot or from Mars. Plan a visit to Rajasthan, if not to sleep in the cold Thar desert under the starlit sky and for the sunset camel safaris, then for all this food. Happy foodgasm!