In a country like India where every region cooks up an elaborate menu, the best way to explore any regional cuisine would be to settle for a thali. It is an absolute delight to eat a little bit of everything from the best that a cuisine can offer.
Every regional cuisine is laced with ingredients that are abundantly available with them while working with substitutes for the scarce food items. Rajasthan is a dry state and because of this, people have learned to cook with milk, buttermilk, cream and curd to save water.
From the exquisite spread of preparations, where vegetarian dishes are at par with the non-vegetarian fare, to the beautiful Rajasthani plates and brazen bowls its served in, if you haven't had a Rajasthani thali yet, it's about time you do.
The Royal Platter
A traditional Rajasthani thali depicts a brilliant play of gourmet preparations on a plate of epic proportions. The meticulous arrangements of curries, pickles, special breads and desserts would delight one and all.
Rajasthani Thali :Image via Pinterest
Rajasthani cuisine depends heavily on millet, grains and pulses. Other than the traditional rotis, pooris, kachauris and parathas made of wheat flour, you have rotis made ofbajra, makka and jowar. Besan is one ingredient that is widely used in Rajasthani food.
Dal baati churma is the most loved and endeared food item in Rajasthan. Small, round breads are made of flour and deep fried in ghee. One can go for plain baatis or the ones that are stuffed with onion, peas, lentils or sattu. Baatis are traditionally served with dal and dollops of fresh ghee. Unsalted baatis are crushed and mixed with ghee and sugar to prepare choorma.
Dal baati choorma is a complete meal in itself. It takes very little effort, water or ingredients to cook up this satisfying meal. Baatis can be made in huge batches and stored for consumption over the days. They have longer shelf life and hence the combination is extremely popular among the locals.
Pyaaz kachori, khoba roti, missi roti, jowar pyaaz roti are some of the other local hits.
Image via Pinterest/gayathriscookspot
If you are a vegetarian, the royal platter has a variety of vegetarian curries and dals for you. Moong dal and gram flour curries are widely used. Wadis, which are moong or besan nuggets are popular too. Gatte ki sabzi is another famous staple in a traditional Rajasthani thali, where besan nuggets are boiled and cooked in a flavourful gravy.
Gatte ki sabzi: Image via Pinterest
Moong and panchmela dal are the most popular and widely served. Panchmela dal has a unique blend of five different lentils. Beans come together with cucumber and bell peppers to create the fantastic panchmela sabzi. In a typical Rajasthani platter, you will not fail to spot bundi ki kadhi, dhana mung wadi, gatte ki kadhi, amras ki kadhi, papad ki sabzi and ker sangri.
For the meat lovers, a local Rajasthani kitchen cooks up delectable preparations using chicken, mutton, fish and at times wild boar. Some of the meat curries are too hot for one to handle. Laal maas ranks high on the spice-o-meter. It combines meat pieces with a generous dose of red chilli - exclusively for the fiery food lovers to enjoy. One should also not skip trying Bajari gosht and bhuna kukda.
Dare to taste fiery laal maas?
Rajasthani cooking makes generous use of milk, curd, cream and buttermilk. When teamed with meat, it renders an excellent creamy texture to the juiciness and tenderness of meat. Safed maas is a classic specialty of Rajasthan - a hearty combination of tender meat chunks cooked with cream, milk and curd.
This is not all, in some parts of Rajasthan, one may get to taste pickled boar meat (saanth roachaar) and roasted wild hare stuffed with spices (khad khargosh). Sula is also extremely famous in Rajasthan, small meat pieces are marinated in a mixture of yogurt and local masalas, put on skewers and grilled. Mutton, chicken, fish and wild boar are used in the making of traditional sula.
Accompaniments and Drinks
To add another delicious level to your meal, there are salads, papad, pickles and chutneys to choose from. Since Rajasthan is mostly hot and dry, people here have cultivated a habit of consuming curd, milk and buttermilk based accompaniments and beverages to keep off the heat. You can find an extensive spread of raitas, chaach, sweetened lassi, and thandai, to name a few.
The best thing about Rajasthani desserts is that they're served with the main course! Imarti , malpua, rasgulla and moong dal halwa are some of the favourites with the food lovers all across the nation and need no introduction.
Sugary sensation: Imarti
Goond ke laddo are made of edible gum, wheat flour, pepper, nuts and ghee. You also have ghewar which is made of flour and soaked in a sugary syrup. Mawa misri, another sweet delight, is made with condensed milk, thickened milk and sugar crystals.
Apart from these, steamed rice or pulao also finds a place in the Rajasthani platter.
All in all, there is just so much that Rajasthan can offer you on a thali! If you can't get hold of a Rajasthani thali, cook up these delicacies yourself. It's easier than you think. Do not forget to pay heed to your delighted taste buds after devouring the big fat Rajasthani thali - it is a gastronomic surprise!