Did you know that Rajasthan is the largest state in India? Known as the Land of the Kings, the Rajputana was ruled by a dynasty of kings long before the British arrived. Their influence on every aspect of life is evident from the cuisine, culture and lifestyle of the people. The rugged and extreme landscape of the desert directly impacted the way people live and cook here even today. Water being scarce in these parts, pushed them to be creative in their cooking techniques. Dishes that were heavily spiced and made to last led to the most delicious Rajasthani food. Each city has so much to offer from snacks, mains and of course dessert. Get ready to go on a gastronomical journey to Rajasthan.
When you travel through Rajasthan, the first thing you will notice are the colours! Every city has a different vivid colour in which it is painted. It is a distinct look that is so unique to this region of India.
Jaipur - The Pink City
My food journey began in Jaipur when I tried their local snacks for the first time. The Pyaaz Kachori at Laxmi Misthan Bhandar was crunchy and a great way to start off the day. A puff pastry filled with onions, potatoes and ground spices, this kachori is had with tamarind chutney.
Next, I recommend trying the Mirchi Bada served hot. Do not worry. They are not spicy. It is time to go down to Masala Chowk where you can sample some of the best Aam ki Launji. This is a sweet and sour pickle of raw mangoes. A vegetarian snack eaten here a lot is Karmi Vada. This healthy option is a mixture of batter of chana dal (split chickpeas), green chillies, onions, and common spices. Dip it in green chutney and enjoy!
For lunch, you can begin your meal with one of the most famous dishes in the state. Dal Bati Churma at Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar. They take batis and crisp them up before cooking them in a vegetarian curry. There is a lot in this dish. Five different dals (lentils) and several spices, a sweet churma (crushed wheat) that just melts in your mouth and of course, a healthy amount of ghee that makes everything taste magical.
For the next course, head over to the stunning restaurant called 1135 AD. I will not give too much away, but it is inside a majestic fort and worth visiting. Get the royal dining experience right here. Order the Rajasthani Kadhi; a spicy yellow curry that is had with steamed rice. This dish is a staple for the locals.
By now you would be wondering, where is the famous meat of Rajasthani cuisine? The royals took pride in hunting various game meat and that got incorporated into the recipes. Today, mutton and chicken are more popular and many of the original royal dishes can still be tasted here.
This delicately cooked non-vegetarian dish has dry fruits and is cooked in milk and cream and finally garnished with cardamom and cinnamon.
Wash this meal down with some Jaljeera. It is a refreshing local beverage that is tangy drink and well-spiced.
Jaisalmer - The Golden City
When anyone thinks of Rajasthani food, the first thing that comes to their mind is Laal Maas. Here is a bit of history before you try this glorious dish. The recipe dates back to the 10th century. During the royal hunting expeditions, the king would invite guests and treat them to a lavish experience. They would travel in a large entourage. Once the game was caught, it was sent back to the royal kitchen to be prepared through marination for the evening. The hunting party would return slowly on elephants. This meal included Laal Maas.
An extra spicy dish, Laal Maas gets its name from the fiery colour of the red chillies used during the slow cook. A hot gravy of tomatoes, sizzling spices, and tender mutton. The aroma and richness of this dish are indescribable. A must-have while exploring the cuisine.
Safed Maas (Mutton)
If you prefer less spicy food, why not try the Safed Maas instead? It is also a hugely popular and traditional dish that is prepped with milk, cream, curd, and cashew paste.
Bhuna Kukda (Chicken)
A great option for those who do not eat red meat, Bhuna Kukda is as authentic as they get. Marinated overnight in spices and cooked till it is tender, this dry dish is served with fresh coriander and hot parathas.
For all the vegetarians out there, your choices are endless too. Most of the locals are actually vegetarian too. They have adapted much of what was readily available in the desert to create some of the most interesting food you will ever have.
Gatte ki Sabzi
Head over to Zoya Ka Zayeka in Jaisalmer for this popular main course dish. They make gram flour (besan) dumplings and fill them with handfuls of nuts. It is deep-fried and cooked in gravy.
Udaipur - The White City
The magical City of Lakes should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Rajasthan. When you are here, there are a few things that you must try no matter what.
There is a place called the Traditional Khana Restaurant Rajasthani Cuisine in Udaipur. It serves the best version of this local hit. Made from Ker, a wild berry that grows deep inside the Thar Desert and Sangari, dried wild beans. This dry vegetable dish has raisins in it. Originally from the region of Marwad, this dish is best enjoyed with steamed rice.
Gunde ki Sabzi
This Summer favourite is made of guide or gumberry. It is cooked in spicy gravy with mustard, chillies, and chopped raw mangoes.
Do try the Masala-Chhach or buttermilk. It is an integral part of the food and culture here.
Jodhpur - The Blue City
Bajra is a staple here and is highly consumed across Rajasthan. When you are in Jodhpur, you must try the Barja roti and lehsun chutney. It is a heavy lunch and will keep you filled when you are on the go. There are garlic cloves and red chilli powder that gives that zing. And now, for your favourite part of the meal, desserts! There are so many different and amazing options to choose from, you will not be able to taste them all in one trip. Here are my personal top five.
Known as Mohanthaal or Besan ki Barfi, this sweet dish is made with roasted gram flour, sugar, and lots of ghee. It is always served at weddings and important celebrations in Rajasthan.
This is a winter dessert made from ghee, flour, paneer, and sugar.
Wheat flour, jaggery and desi ghee are all combined to produce this rich goodness.
A Kachoris can be sweet too. The Mawa kachoris from Jodhpur are stuffed with mawa, crispy dry fruits and served hot.
Alwar ka Mawa / Kalakand
Milk, paneer, sugar and dry fruits are cooked together to make Kalakand. This famous dessert originated in Alwar, Rajasthan.
No matter which city you chose, Rajasthan has so much to offer. It is a true treat for all the senses and is a must-visit for those who are looking for a one in a lifetime experience.