Rajasthani Cuisine - Food from the State of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is also known as the "Land of Rotis" and the “Abode of God”.
Rajasthani Cuisine: Rajasthan or erstwhile Rajputana is the land of royals. This incredible Indian state is a kaleidoscope of colours, landscapes, sounds and smells, a dazzling tapestry of myriad experiences.
Rajasthan or the “Land of the Princes”, is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India. Though most famous for its impressive forts, stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, the food of Rajasthan stands as a behemoth due to its sheer creativity and exquisite taste. It is equally amazing and delightful.
As with all culinary cultures, the cuisine of Rajasthan is also shaped by its geographical features, climate and availability of resources.
The culinary basket of Rajasthan includes hardy crops and grains such as jowar, bajra, sesame, ragi, tur, pulses, gram, groundnuts, etc. that can survive in the harsh climatic conditions of the region.
Evolution of Rajasthani Cuisine - The Food from Rajasthan
Rajasthani food has been largely influenced by the lifestyle and aesthetics of its royalty.
Rajasthani cuisine is among those rare cuisines boasting of a never-ending platter with a wide array of dishes; ranging from tangy drinks to spicy starters, mouth-watering sabzi and crunchy bread along with added delights of chutneys, achars, papad and chaach.
There is also a huge spread of delicate & delicious desserts and rich crunchy delights.
Rajasthani cuisine has been considerably influenced by the lifestyle and aesthetics of its royalty, the Rajputs. Traditionally, the state has been known as Rajputana, as the Rajputs held sway over it for several centuries.
The Rajputs made lasting contributions to the food and eating habits of the region, especially its non-vegetarian fare. The food of the royals was deeply connected to their royal lifestyle.
Hunting being a favourite pastime of the royalty, non-vegetarian dishes were mostly cooked with shikar or game meat. This included animals and birds such as venison, wild hare, rabbit, pheasant, quail and duck.
The royal kitchens or rasowaras were sites of considerable innovation by the royal cooks or khansamas. Recipes were zealously guarded and handed over from one generation to another.
With the Pathani invasions, filtered in the art of barbecuing which has now been honed to perfection and the quintessential Sula-smoked kebabs or skewered boneless lamb-can be prepared in 11 different ways.
Today, the sheer scale and intricacy of the labour- intensive dishes of the royal cuisine are nearly impossible to be replicated.
The Rajputs acted as political allies to the Mughals during the 16th and the 17th centuries and cultural influences from the latter considerably shaped Rajput art and architecture (and vice-versa).
However, culinary influences of the Mughlai cuisine on the food of the Rajputs were insignificant and mostly due to the non-availability of ingredients that were integral to the rich dishes of the Mughlai cuisine.
Goat and camel milk form the basis of the various diary products used in Rajasthani cuisine. Camel’s milk is thicker and richer and produces excellent yoghurt (dahi), butter, ghee, malai, khoa and soft cheeses such as paneer.
Rajasthani cuisine is primarily vegetarian and offers a fabulous variety of mouthwatering dishes. The spice content is quite high if compared to other Indian cuisines, but the food is absolutely scrumptious.
Special Food of Rajasthan | Notable Rajasthani Dishes
Delectable dishes from Rajasthani cuisine that locals love & share.
Dal Baati and Churma: This is a classical combination of three preparations eaten together. Dal is also known as panchmel dal is a combination of five types of lentils cooked with garlic & desi ghee. The Baati is a dumpling of wholewheat flour, baked-on dry cow dung cakes called kanda. Churma is coarsely ground wheat crushed and cooked with ghee and sugar.
Rajasthani Gatte Ki Sabzi: Gatte ki sabji is a traditional Rajasthani sabzi made with gram flour dumplings flavoured with dry spices, steamed and then cooked further into a yogurt based curry. Another format of this gatte ki sabzi is called Shahi Gatte, also popular as Govind Gatta. Shahi Gatte are made with nuts and have a richer gravy.
Ker Sangri (Panchkuta): Unique to the arid land of Rajasthan, Ker Sangri is a delectable amalgamation of ker, a shrub berry and sangri, a bean of the Khejari tree. Cooked simply with ingredients such as red chillies, carom seeds and spices, this bean and berry vegetable is flavourful, tangy and delightful. It is considered to be one of Rajasthan’s most authentic gourmet preparations and is a must at Marwari wedding celebrations.
Laal Maas (Red Meat): Lala Maas is made with made using lamb, yoghurt, onions, and garlic. The unique feature of this famous, mouth-watering and hot, spicy & rich meat preparation is its fiery red colour which it gets from the liberal use of red chillies from a village called Mathania in Rajasthan. Lala Maas is uniquely smoked with cloves to give an enriched flavour to the meat. The dish is a result of the extreme heat and limited access to water that was prevalent in this region.
Junglee Maas (Forest Meat): “Junglee Maas” literally translates into “Forest Meat”. Or meat obtained from hunting in the forest (shikaar) and of course cooked in the forest only. It is still made with only 7 ingredients that are meat, garlic, cloves, ghee or oil, water, salt and mathania chillies.
Safed Maas (White Meat): Safed Maas is another signature lamb dish from Rajasthan and literally translates into ‘white meat’. It is made with white curry made from the use of fresh coconut kernel paste, white pepper, cashew nuts, poppy seeds, almond, etc. along with yoghurt and onion paste laced with powdered spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. Safed Maas is famous dish from the Kachhwaha family of Jaipur.
Khad Khargosh: Khad Khargosh is made by to marinating a rabbit with chosen spices, wrapping it in a kachha roti (bread), then packing it into a jute gunny bag and burying it in a pit, topped with charcoal fire and mud, and slow cooked for a few hours.
Panchmel Ki Sabzi: Panchmel ki Subzi is a delicious dry preparation of five vegetables – gavarfali (cluster beans), chawli (long beans), Shimla mirch (capsicum), cheer (cucumber) and gajar (carrots) tossed in aromatic spices & amchur.
Dal Panchmel: Panchmel dal also known as panchratna dal is a protein-packed, healthy and delicious lentil dish made with a combination of five different types of lentils cooked with garlic and desi ghee. This dal is also known as ‘panchkuti dal’, ‘mel ki dal’, and ‘mixed dal’ in some parts of Rajasthan.
Mangodi Ki Sabzi: Mangodi is made by soaking lentils in water until they are soft. Lentils are then ground without the addition of water and combined with red chilli powder, turmeric and coriander powder. These are then pinched into a cherry size and sun dried for a few days. It is further deep-fried and combined with vegetables, like potatoes, to make dry preparation and curries.
Gatta Ki Tahiri / Gatta Ke Kichadi: This is a contemporary Rajasthani preparation of besan ke gatte that are layered with long grain basmati rice along with flavoured spices and saffron cooked on dum. Gatte ki Khichdi is prepared with spices, green peas, boiled/fried besan dumplings and aromatic rice. These flavours blend into a mouth-watering, flavourful meal that is traditionally served with a chutney or curd on the side.
Rajasthani Khichdi: Rajasthani khichadi are made using wheat, jowar and bajra in place of rice. Some of the popular ones are Gehun ki Bikaneri Khichadi made of wheat and moong dal that can be enjoyed with ghee, curd and mango pickle; and Bajra khichadi made of bajra (black millet) and yellow moong dal (split yellow gram) and served with either curd or raita.
Rajasthani Kadhi: It is prepared with sour curd, besan, and traditional Rajasthani spices, this main dish recipe is full of spicy and delicious flavours that is evident from a red tint it has. Pakora or boondi may or may not be added to this version of Rajasthani Kadhi.
Besan Ka Chilla: A Cheela or Chilla is a traditional chickpea flour (besan) based pancake made with salt, chopped onions, green chillies, and chopped green coriander. It is also popularly known as vegetarian omelette because of its colour and texture.
Missi Roti: Missi Roti is a savoury and nutty flavoured flatbreads made with a dough made with whole wheat flour, gram flour, chopped onions, green chillies and spices. It can be served with curries like kadhi or eaten just with pickle.
Jodhpuri Kabuli: It is a royal and exotic dish presented in alternate layers of rice and vegetables gravy cooked in yoghurt with toppings of fried bread crumbs, crunchy cashews, raisins and mild spices. Jodhpuri Kabuli is a vegetarian adaptation of a similar non vegetarian dish (Kabuli pulao) owing its origins to Kabul in Afghanistan.
Amrood Ki Sabzi: Amrood Ki Sabzi is an exquisite delicacy made with sliced ripe guava simmered in a tangy tomato and yoghurt masala. This sweet, spicy, and sour curry pairs perfectly with Indian bread or steamed rice.
Rajasthani Snacks: A wide variety of snacks such as pyaj kachodi, kanji vada, bikaneri bhujia, kalmi vada, mirchi vada, dabeli, samosae and dal ke phare add further invigorating flavours to the cuisine. Accompanying chutneys with these snacks may be tamatar ki launji, lehsun ki chutney, imly ki chutney, aam launji & pudina chutney.
Desserts of Rajasthan | Unique & Common Rajasthani Sweet Dishes
Delectable desserts from Rajasthani cuisine that locals love & share.
Ghewar or Ghevar: Ghewar or Ghevar is a disc-shaped dessert with a honeycomb texture & is made from ghee, whole wheat flour (or refined flour) and then soaked in sugar syrup. It is served with garnishing of mawa, rabri, malai, dry fruits, kewra and also silver vark. It is traditionally associated with the month of Shravan and the Teej and Raksha Bandhan festivals. It is a much loved favourite of Haryanvi & Rajasthani cuisines.
Makhane Ki Kheer: Makhana Kheer (Makhane Ki Kheer) is a creamy Indian dessert made with fox nuts, milk, sugar, and dry fruits. It is a delicious pudding that can be served on any occasion especially for vrat or fasting days.
Moong Dal ka Halwa: Moong dal halwa is a classic Indian sweet dish or pudding made with moong lentils, sugar, ghee and cardamom powder.
Sooji Ka Halwa: Suji ka halwa is a type of halvah made by toasting common-wheat semolina in a fat like ghee or oil, and adding a sweetener like sugar syrup or honey. It can be served for breakfast or as a dessert item.
Besan Ke Laddu: Besan ladoo are aromatic and delicious traditional North Indian sweet balls made with gram flour, ghee, powdered sugar & cardamoms. Besan Ke Laddu with a melt-in-the-mouth texture are immensely popular across India and made during special occasions like festivals, weddings and celebrations.
Gond Ke Ladoo: Gond ke laddu is a popular winter sweet from Rajasthan. Gond ke laddu are wholesome and nutritious sweet balls made with edible gum, whole wheat flour, nuts, jaggery and ghee. Gond is an “edible gum” a resin that is extracted from the bark of the axle-wood tree. It is available in crystal form as pearly yellowish translucent pieces of varying sizes especially meant for eating after being cooked.
Alwar ka Mawa / Kalakand: Kalakand is an Indian sweet made out of solidified, sweetened milk called Khoa. To make kalakand traditionally, the milk is lightly curdled with a bit of alum or curd or citric acid and simmered until thickened. It may be flavoured with cardamom and garnished with pistachio nuts.
Imarti: Imarti is made by deep-frying vigna mungo flour batter in a circular flower shape, then soaking in sugar syrup. Alternative names include Amitti, Amriti, Emarti, Omritti, Jahangir and Jhangiri/Jaangiri.
Gujiya: Gujiya, Gughara, Pedakiya, or karanji is a crescent shaped sweet deep-fried dumpling made with suji or maida stuffed with a mixture of sweetened khoa and dried fruits, and fried in ghee. After frying it is may be dipped in a sugar syrup for more sweetness. Gujiya is commonly made during the festival of Holi.
What are the cooking methods for Rajasthani Food?
Traditional and modern methods are both employed for cooking Rajasthani cuisine.
Kitchen Equipment for Rajasthani Cuisine – The traditional stoves and ovens used to cook Rajasthani food include:
Tikra: Tikra is is a clay pot that is typically used for the preparation of dal called tikri ki dal. The much-desired earthly flavour of the dal is obtained in this manner.
Chulha – The traditional name of the stove in the Rajasthani language is chulha. Traditional houses also have ovens (wadda chulha or band chulha) that are made from bricks, stones, and in many cases clay.
Angithi – Angithi is a traditional brazier used for space-heating and cooking in North India. It usually generate heat from burning coal and, when in use, have glowing coal or charcoal pieces but few or no flames.
Bhatti – A masonry oven is known as a Bhatti. Outdoor cooking and grilling have many different types of Bhatti.
Okhal aur Moosal or Hamam Dasta and Sil Batta – Spices would be ground/ crushed with the traditional mortar and pestle (Okhal aur Moosal or Hamam Dasta) and grinding stones (Sil batta).
Handi, Degchi, Patila, Karchi, Kadai, Tawa – For cooking & serving, these iron, brass and copper utensils, believed to be beneficial for health, are still used in the North India for both ritual and utilitarian purposes.
Modern equipment – This includes pressure cooker & griddle.
More About Rajasthani Food | Rajasthani Cuisine
Dining & Eating Etiquette for Rajasthan
Rajasthani households follows a similar or slightly varied dining etiquette as other states in North India.
Though certain dining etiquette varies regionally, there are many practices that are common throughout North India. Family dining is an established norm in most Rajasthani families.
Bringing and sending fresh fruits, sweets and food items as gifts to family members is a common practice in North India, particularly during the spring season. Food items are distributed among neighbours as well on special occasions and as a sign to show hospitality.
Invitation for meals – Invitation to a meal or tea is generally distributed few days beforehand & denying or not turning up for the invitation for no major reason is considered a breach of etiquette.
- The invited guest or elder person is given special respect and attention.
- The invited guest are requested to start the meal & it is considered rude if the host starts eating without taking into account the attendance of all guests.
- Table setting is done before the arrival of the guests.
- Family members or any occupants within one home make sure to eat together during the dinner.
- Hand washing prior to and after the dinner, lunch or brunch at any household of North India is a norm.
- It is considered rude to start eating food without asking others to participate in a meal.
- Use right hand for food intake and left hand for drinking water or drinks.
- Chewing food with one’s mouth open and burping in front of others is considered rude.
- The bread is eaten with the hands. Rice and desserts are eaten with spoons. Soup spoons are used for consuming soup and forks are used for eating noodles.
- Politely ask for the dish to be passed on instead of grabbing it from far across the table.
- DO NOT pass on your JHOOTA (food that has been in contact with your mouth) even to your family members in front of an Indian host.
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