Royal repast on a platter

Updated: Nov 20 2005, 06:37am hrs
The Pushkar Fair attracts a large number of tourists. Pushkar in Ajmer, Rajasthan, has fairs, camels brought in bedecked and sold and then there are camel, bullock and horse races. The cuisine of Rajasthan too is varied, depending on the region. However, the Rajputana cuisine, which has been preserved and practised from the time of the Rajputana rules, is an apt tickler.

The cuisine is very popular amongst international travellers. The temperature and the climate of the region influences the cuisine to a great extent. People eat lots of spices, thereby increasing the water intake. The food is also rather heavy because the main occupation of the people is farming.

The specialty of the cuisine lies in the uniqueness of the ingredients used. All the food items take up almost similar ingredients but yet the flavours of all the dishes differ. A lot of dried berries like ker, sangri, kumthia, akha amchoor and akhi mirchi are used. Though game birds formed a large part of the royal cuisine, vegetables are also used extensively.

As Rajasthan is very hot for most part of the year, summer coolers are very popular. Thus chaas, sherbets and nimbu paani are gulped in voluminous quantities.

Chef Ajay Chopra, chef de cuisine, Saffron, JW Marriott, Mumbai, which is hosting a Rajputana Cuisine Festival, points out the difference between the royal and the peoples cuisines. The royal cuisine, which uses rich ingredients is substituted with cheaper ingredients in peoples cuisine. This entire process differentiates the cooking of the Rajputanas from that of the rest. The every day food consists of vegetables cooked with ghee and yogurt, chapattis/bajre ki roti, dal, and dry sweets. The specialities offered include gulab jamun ki subzi, rajbhog ki subzi, ker daak, panchkutta, desi maas, pistai korma, maas ka bootha.

The cuisine is not complete without baati, churma and gulab jamun ki subzi and maas ka bootha.