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Cuisines of Rajasthan

Each region in India has its own traditional dishes and specialities. In the royal kitchens of Rajasthan, as well as most other states, food is a very serious business and raised to the level of an art- form. Rajasthani cooking was influenced by the war -like lifestyle of its inhabitants and the availability of ingrediants in this region.

Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred, more out of necessity than choice. Scarcity of water, fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. In the desert belt of Jaisalmer, Barmer and Bikaner, cooks use the minimum of water and prefer, instead, to use more milk, buttermilk and clarified butter.

Dried lentils, beans from indegenous plants like sangri, ker, etc are liberally used. Gram flour is a major ingrediant here and is used to make some of the delicacies like khata, gatta ki sabzi, pakodi, powdered lentils are used for mangodi, papad. The daily food in Rajasthan typically comprises unleavened bread, made of wheat, barley, millet or maize.

A soup of legumes flavored with red chili peppers, yogurt or milk and sometimes a vegetable such as okra, jackfruit, eggplant, mustard or fenugreek leaf. The wealthy can afford to eat meat regularly, but many abstain for religious reasons. Though the Rajasthani kitchen was able to create much from little, it had also to cater to different communities with their own ritual observances.

The Rajput warrior, for example, was not averse to shikar, killing game to put in his pot at night.The Vaishnavs, followers of Krishna, were vegetarian, and strictly so, as were the Bishnois, a community known for their passion to conserve both animal and plant life.Even amoung Rajputs, there were enough royal kitchens where nothing other than vegetarian meals were cooked.

The Marwaris , of course, were vegetarian too, but their cuisine, though not too different from the Rajputs, was richer in its method of preparation. And then there were the Jains too, who were not only vegetarians, but who would not eat after sundown, and whose food had to be devoid of garlic and onions which were, otherwise, important ingredients in the Rajasthani pot.

Mughal inspired Dishes - The Mughals influenced the eating habits of the Rajput courts. From the simple grilled meats served on leaves, the royal kitchen introduced elaborate curries, kebabs and pulao's(rice prepared with clarified butter, spices meat and vegetables) served on silver platters.

Chapatti Making - The chapatti is a flat, unleavened bread which serves almost as a spoon, for it is used as a scoop to transfer food to the mouth. It complements both the texture and flavor of the food it scoops up, absorbing runny sauces, balancing strong flavors and smoothness.

Frying Puris - Puris are delicious, fried wheat bubbles which have varied uses; as snacks, scoops for food and as a complement to hot spices. Family members typically sit on the floor and are served piping hot food by the lady of the houses.

Khud khargosh - Khud Khasrgosh (Hare or rabbit meat cooked in a pit) is a Rajput specialty during summer, when the hare is lean. The hare is skinned and stuffed with spices, wrapped in dough and finally in layers of mud-soaked cloth. The ambrosial result is meat perfectly blended with the spices and dough.

The Indian Kitchen - The simple Indian Kitchen has a brick-and-mud fireplace. Food is usually cooked over a wood or charcoal fire,in clay,brass,or copper utensils.

Lassi -Natural yogurt is churned to remove the butter content for the making of Lassi or buttermilk a cooling summer beverage.

Desert Cooking - Very little produce grows in the desert. Daily food mainly comprises of daal-bati (cooked lentils and roasted balls of dough), accompanied by a variety of dried or pickled berries cooked in different ways.

Recipe for Sula :
In Rajput cuisine, sula refer to tender morsels of meat, the most prized being wild boar spare ribs(bhanslas), marinated in a mixture of dry yogurt, browned onions, garlic, ginger, coriander, red chilli, and kachri, a small pod which tenderizes meat and lends a particular sharp-sour flaver to many dishes. The marinated meat is smoked, spitted on skewers, and grilled over hot coals. Sulas are made of chicken, pheasant, mutton, or fish.

Ingredients for Sula.

2lb lamb leg(mutton boneless), salt to taste, 1 oz malt vinegar, 3/4 oz ginger and garlic paste, 17 oz curd, 3/4 oz red chilli paste, 2 oz mustard oil, 2 oz pineapple (raw) juice , 2 oz butter, 2 lemons, 1/2 oz garam masala.

1. Fillet lamb leg and cut into thin one-inch strips, sprinkle salt and marinate with half of malt vinegar.Put aside for two hours.

2. Mix ginger and garlic paste, red chilli paste, salt, garam masala, mustard oil, pineapple juice, and the rest of malt vinegar with the curd(curd has to be hung in muslin cloth for two hours to obtain the solid coagulated substance, allowing the liquid to drain). Marinate mutton pieces in mixture and keep in the refrigerator for at least eight hours

3. Skewer mutton pieces . Allow eight to ten pieces per skewer.

4. Place skewered mutton in a moderately hot charcoal clay oven. After seven to eight minutes, turn over the skewer so as to ensure uniform cooking on both sides. Cook for another two or three minutes cooking.

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