Rajasthan is the land of vivid colors, magnificent palaces, captivating architecture and mouth-watering preparations. Rajasthani cuisine is an art form, which is exquisite in its own way. It is interesting to note that cuisine of Rajasthan is influenced by many factors, such as the environmental, social, geographical, cultural and historical.
The cuisine was influenced by the state's warring lifestyle as well as the availability of the ingredients. Hence, dishes that could be stored up for several days without heating was preferred.
Geographically, the state experiences scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables due to its hot and arid climate, which in turn has influenced the cuisine of this land. The cooks in the desert belt of Bikaner, Barmer, and Jaisalmer prefer to use clarified butter (ghee), milk and buttermilk, with the least possible amount of water.
Rajasthani Cuisine also has elements of the Royal era of the Rajput rulers. The natives of this region prefer to have a wide variety of chutneys made from local spices like mint, coriander, turmeric, and garlic. An integral part of the cuisine of Rajasthan is the different forms of sweets.
The passion of hunting in Royal Maharajas of Rajasthan also shaped the culinary of Rajasthan. Cooking the hunted animals or game cooking was considered to be respected because it required not so easily acquired skills of cleaning, cutting and cooking. Some of the Maharajas savored their passion for cooking the game themselves for some of the chosen Royal guests. In many of the Rajput households, it was males that used to prepare non-vegetarian.
One such creation is the unique Junglee Maas by the Maharaja of Salwar. It was quite favorite among the Maharajas. The hunted game was simply cooked in clarified butter, salt and plenty of hot red chilies due to the sparsity of exotic ingredients in the kitchen of hunting camp.
One of the notable influences on the cuisine was made by Mughal cuisine. However, the ingredients required for the lavish Mughal cuisine was not so easily available. Also, a little effect was British cuisine was also seen. However, it was more about the eating methods on the table rather than making blander of the Rajasthani dishes.
The barbecuing was introduced after the Pathani invasions. The art of barbecuing conventional skewered boneless lamb or Sula-smoked kebab which can be prepared by 11 distinguished ways has now been honed to perfection.
Apart from all these, there is vegetarian cooking of the Maheshwaris of Jodhpur. The use of garlic and onion is prohibited in their cooking as they believe that these excite blood.
The Marwaris of Rajasthan were vegetarian too, but their cuisine was richer in its method of preparation, similar to that of Rajputs.
Then there were the Jains, who apart from being vegetarian, would not eat after sundown. Their food had to be devoid of the important ingredients of Rajasthani cuisine, garlic, and onion.
The Bishnois, who were known to conserve animal and plant life, were vegetarians, and so were the Vaishnavas, followers of Lord Krishna. Even there were few royal Rajput kitchens where only vegetarian meals were cooked.
The delectable Rajasthani cuisine mesmerizes the taste buds by the variety of food it offers. The best possible way to experience the various influences on the cuisine is to taste a few. It will definitely be an unforgettable experience.