The delicious life

The delicious life

A Rajasthani thali

Rajasthan is a vibrant cocktail of heritage and culture. Soaring temperatures and aridity result in a paucity of vegetation here. This is what gave birth to the much-celebrated cuisine of Rajasthan. Jaipur, the capital of the state, forms a rich culinary canvas that weaves the state together. While 60% of the population is vegetarian, there are clans and communities that have some exotic meat preparations. Dairy products like milk, buttermilk and ghee have compensated for the dearth of water in recipes and that’s what makes them ridiculously delectable. 

Around the bustling walled city and maturing new city, one can find many culinary joints. Although Jaipur is a hotbed of contemporary kitchens and cafes, the walled city area is where you will find the iconic desi meals. Here are some must-try delicacies of Jaipur:

Over tea & lassi

Loaded with cardamom and cooked on a coal stove, tea from Sahu Tea Stall is simply the best. This tea stall has been serving tea since 1968. Also, head to Gulaab Ji Chaiwala, who is known for his steaming masala chai. And to Lassiwala who has been serving thick creamy lassi for over 70 years now. 

The Munchies 

Kachoris find a special place in this city with a diverse range bracketing from pyaaz (onion) to heeng (asafoetida) to daal (dried lentils) and mawa (condensed milk) kachoris. Rawat Kachoris is the MasterChef behind pyaaz and mawa ones in the city. Mirchi bada is a spicy dish that has a savoury potato mixture stuffed inside large-sized green chillies. Tamarind or mint chutney is served as a condiment with it.

A case of curries

Of course, indulging in bhujia is a must when one is in Jaipur. You can find many tiny shops that have been selling bhujias and namkeens for over a century now. The signature dish of daal-baati-churma is a delicious dish which has many masters in the city. Baatis, or baked wheat balls, are eaten with a spicy blend of lentil curry and accompanied by coarsely ground wheat breads with lots of pistachios and jaggery or sugar. Bati has a variety of stuffing options also like — masala bati (dry fruits, potatoes and peas filling) or keema bati (minced mutton filling). Often, churma has seasonal variations to it with distinct flavours like rose, gram flour and millets. During monsoon, there are more than 300 kaarigars (craftsmen) who get hired to cook for picnics and campout kitchens.

Whether red or green, spices are a must in Rajasthani cuisine. A supplement in the above platter is tipore, wherein chopped green chillies are fried with dozens of spices. While there are many authentic Rajasthani restaurants to dine in, Kalyug Halwai is a small shop in the narrow bylanes of Jaipur that has been serving this sole item for the past 180 years.

Gatte ki sabzi literally doesn’t have any veggies in it but still manages to taste super yummy. In this dish, steamed and fried chickpea flour dumplings go into a tangy gravy made of tomato, buttermilk and aromatic spices.

Ker Sangri is a recipe of twins where ker is a tart wild berry and sangri is a bean that grows in surplus amounts in areas of Jaisalmer and Barmer. Sangri is 53% protein and holds the glory of being the mainstay during droughts. Eaten with breads baked from millet/wheat/barley, the preparation has oodles of spices and an unmatched shelf life without refrigeration. Roasted papad is broken and added to a gravy made of yoghurt and other spices, predominantly coriander, and here it is peppery papad ki sabzi.

Breaking the bread

The two princesses in every kitchen of the state are onion and garlic. Bajra ki roti with lehsun ki chutney is a winter delight with scoops of homemade white butter. Black millet flour is rolled into thick rotis and cooked over woodfire, which imparts a smoked flavour to them. The garlic dip is made from garlic, ghee, jaggery, lime juice and red chillies. A thick soup or broth known as raab is made from millet or corn flour and buttermilk. Boiled on low flame and fermented in an earthen pot, it has a unique taste.

Meaty delights

Hopping onto the carnivore buds, laal maas tops it all. Traditionally, it used to be made with deer or wild boar, but is now cooked with marinated mutton and a typical fiery gravy. Safed maas gets a variation with curd and cashews to it, while Mohan maas is a rare sinful dish. Tender meat cooked with mild spices, milk, cardamom, khus khus (poppy seeds) makes it luscious like none other. Anjeer mutton, junglee maas, banjari gosht, maas ke sooley and a variety of barbecue lip-smackers are some more additions to the never-ending list.

Though a little less pervasive, Muslim eateries too have their distinctive presence here. Rich chicken changezi, white korma, mutton biryani, nihari and a vast range of kebabs from Ramganj Bazar and Muslim Musafirkhana are highly popular. 

Pockets of past brag of meaty delights that showcase how this regal land had a bulk of food connoisseurs. The scarcity of fresh vegetables, hunting expeditions and warrior rituals of erstwhile royals moulded cooking into an artistry as they celebrated aromas and flavours with a dedication like none. Khad khargosh, khargosh ki mokal and kaleji ka raita are some of the extinct dishes.

Desserts to die for

Of course, how can one forget the merciless calorie magnets — the mithaiwalas, who unite the gastronomic enthusiasts beyond their choice of the main course. Ghewar, makkhan bada, besan chakki, aaloo tikki, dahi bhalle and Rajasthani thali (all pure desi ghee items) at Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar, doodh ke laddoo at Bhagat, are some mandatory Jaipuri calories that will leave you sweeter than before.

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