A Rajput Legacy of Slow-Cooked Game Meat and How the Tradition Originated

Renowned for its rich vegetarian delights, Rajasthans cuisine is equally popular for its meaty dishes. In this erstwhile Princely state of Rajputana, the Rajput warriors and hunters have had a rich heritage of hunting and meat-eating.

Sushmita Sengupta  |  Updated: August 03, 2017 14:03 IST

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A Rajput Legacy of Slow-Cooked Game Meat and How the Tradition Originated
Highlights
  • Rajasthan's cuisine is popular for its meaty dishes.
  • The Rajput culinary art presented an array of fantastic dishes.
  • They use a lot of yogurt in the meat topped with ginger and garlic.
Renowned for its rich vegetarian delights, Rajasthan’s cuisine is equally popular for its meaty dishes. In this erstwhile Princely state of Rajputana, the Rajput warriors and hunters have had a rich heritage of hunting and meat-eating. Hunting was one of the favourite hobbies of the royalty who would wander into the wild for days to find and hunt down a good catch. The game meat or the ‘shikaar’ was then prepared and relished by all, sometimes in the palace and sometimes in the lap of nature.

Chef Sadaf Hussain, contestant of Masterchef India 2016 shares, “The Rajput culinary art presented an array of fantastic dishes. It is believed that each king had at least 10 khansamas. It was customary to have a minimum 10 dishes for breakfast and these dishes shouldn’t be the same, they had to keep experimenting and come up with new dishes. These royal kitchens belonged to different gharanas, for instance the Mewari Gharana. While they had all the luxury to experiment in the  comfort of their huge kitchens, the real challenge came up while hunting and cooking the game meat. The kings took only the top chefs from their kitchen with them in their convoy with very minimal supplies and rationed water”. 
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He adds, that the khansamas used their skill and knowledge to come up with a delicious dish each time despite the restraint of ingredients. They used a lot of yogurt in the meat topped with ginger, garlic and chillies as flavour enhancers. Some of these slow-cooked game delicacies not only added to the rich gastronomic fare of the local Rajasthani cuisine, but have also become popular all across the country.
 
Laal Maas


Often helmed as the true-blue Mewari marvel of the Rajput warriors, this fierce dish can make your brows sweat, and if it doesn’t perhaps it isn’t the real deal. Mathania chillies were the traditional chillies used for the preparation of the game meat. While the dish is being prepared, a burning piece of charcoal infused with cloves and desi ghee is placed on top of the preparation and the utensil is sealed, which gives the spicy delight its characteristic smoky flavor.

(Also read: Rajasthani Laal Maas Recipe)
 

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Chef Sadaf says, “The iconic dish Rajasthan comes from the Mewari Gharana, and was a product of an innovation. The story goes back to 10th century AD when the king of Mewar wanted a dish that is hot and meaty enough to suit the palate of a warrior. Legend has it that though that the Khansamas made what they were asked to but the odour of the hunted deer was still prevalent in the curry even though it had a lot of yogurt and garlic, the curry was interesting but was not great enough to please the Royal King and hence it got rejected.”He adds, “Rising up to the challenge, the Mewar cooks, used three different styles of cooking and a lot of chillies. The chillies not just added to the flavour of the dish but also removed the odour and gave it a bright hue and therefore, the name Laal Maas. The traditional recipe had local spices and red chillies rubbed on the meat (lamb/mutton), then cooked in ghee to attain the sweet flavour and eventually slow cooked in a paste of chillies, ghee, garlic, spices and yogurt for about 45-50 minutes” 
 
Jungli Maas


Jungli Maas Literally translates to wild meat. History credits the Maharaja of Salwar for having invented the recipe.  Post the hunt, the game meat was cleaned, salted and put to cook in ghee.  A handful of crushed hot peppers were then added. The salt and ghee made the meat tender and succulent, and prevented it from going bad. In his book, The Travelling Belly, Food Blogger Kalyan Karmakar writes about the Jungli Maas, “It consists of the succulent pieces of goat, first slow cooked in ghee and then finished in pan over an open flame with dry red chillies, salt and more ghee, making the dish all about  the taste of meat rather than the heavy spices. “ He adds, “The version with gravy is called salan and that non-salan, drier one, was what once preferred by the hunters and soldiers of the yore when they were on the move.” 
 
 

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Safed Maas

Rajasthan is a dry area and hence a lot of food preparations use less water and more of milk, curd, butter milk or cream as substitutes. This is peculiar to most of the Rajasthani delicacies and renders a special creamy texture to their dishes. Rajputana meat delight is famous for its characteristic luscious gravy made with a generous heap of fresh cream, milk, khoya, cardamom and a nutty paste of almonds, cashews and pistachios with a subtle hint of chillies.
 


CommentsKhad ka Pind (meat cooked underground), Mewari Korma and Kaleji ka Raita are some of the other famous meat delicacies from the royal Rajput Kitchens. The next time you visit Rajasthan, don’t forget to try your hand at some of these slow-cooked and rich delights.

About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

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