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Influence of Geographic Conditions on Rajasthani Cuisine

From cooking techniques to comestibles, everything you need to know how arid geography of Rajasthan influenced its cuisine.

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Khoba Roti

Khoba Roti

ingredients for Laal Maans

ingredients for Laal Maans

The state of Thar, the literal Marusthali (Land of deaths) of India, has always had civilizations flourishing in it, the rich heritage of Rajasthan being the live testimony of the flourishing part of the statement. The culture of the state, its traditions and last but not the least, the cuisine, are few of those rare things that had remained unaffected by the wave of modernization.

Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine how people had survived the warm arid conditions of the region sans the modern technologies for fetching water. Well, from what we know, sturdy Rajasthanis had accomplished the feat, and outstandingly so too. They adapted the barely habitable environment by altering their lifestyle, a major part of which is their cuisine.

A substantial part of Rajasthani cuisine has developed on the scarcity of water, and subsequent resources. This is why, most of the Rajasthani dishes use buttermilk, milk and clarified butter. The same factor led to the development of homemade stuff like rabodi, paapad, pittod, gatte, and mangodi, that are still widely used as an alternative for veggies in regular saag. Other exclusive comestibles in Rajasthan, inception of which is the dry environment of the state, are ker, sangri, and dried lentils.

When it comes to the traditional cooking technique of Rajasthan, there’s nothing too contrasting than what would be expected of a place with major rural life. Apparently, before the invention of LPG and electrical appliances of cooking, biomass cooking stoves (AKA chulha) were the preeminent cooking tools everywhere. However, what comes as a distinct feature of Rajasthani stove is the usage of fuel. The common energy sources like coals and sticks aren’t, or rather weren’t, available in Rajasthan, making it imperative for the commoners to use dried dung cakes of cattle as the alternative.

Many people in rural areas are still using these hearths as their cooking apparatus. Their utensils too are fashioned to fit these mud chulhas. The thick bottomed pots made of brass, copper, cast iron and aluminum like Kadhai, Tawa, Handi, make up the most significant part of a regular rural kitchen in Rajasthan. The dishes made here, both savory and sweet, can easily be made in these few utensils.

Apart from the mud chulha, many Rajasthani dishes like Baati, are cooked using convection method of Tandoor. The traditional Tandoor in Rajasthan is made of the clay, and have the appearance of huge clay pots. These tandoors are filled blazing charcoals, exposing the food being cooked to the live fire. The convection heating process bakes the food to its deepest center, and the embers give the surface of the food a crunchy smoky touch.

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