While the world’s view of Indian cuisine has been limited to the celebrity status endowed on dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Paneer Butter Masala or Biriyani, much of the richness in flavour and spice still lies undiscovered like relics which may be lost in time forever. This is precisely why we began the tradition of traversing the length and breadth of India’s rich and lush landscape with the majestic land of Rajasthan so that Symega could bring discoveries of unique ingredients and flavours.
In this culinary expedition, our intrepid team of chefs and food technologists travelled north, beyond the Western Ghats, to find those ingredients that fortify the cuisine of warriors and nomads. As we will discover, separating a cuisine’s ingredients from its people’s landscape and culture is impossible. Our team consisted of culinary experts, Chef Elroy Luis (R&D Chef), Sneha Prakash (Category Manager Sales & Marketing) and Sachin Minke (R&D Technologist). Their quest to gather fresh inspiration for Symega’s products led them to the vibrant Rajasthani cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner.
This is an account of their brilliant discoveries.
Discovering the Taste of Rajasthan
Rajasthani cuisine is a melange of varied and vivid cultures, ranging from the Royal Rajput to the Mughals and from the Marwaris to the desert nomads. Adopting the best-suited cooking techniques and ingredients for the warrior lifestyle has led to the evolution of this captivating cuisine. Some key factors included the scarcity of water, lack of access to fresh vegetables, the need for food to last many days during long journeys and food which did not require heating.
This cuisine is mainly vegetarian and uses ingredients such as besan, asafoetida, fenugreek, pudina, chaat masala and garam masala. Ghee, nuts, yoghurt and raisins are rich staples in most Rajasthani curries. One of its unique ingredients used to add a splash of bright colour to the dishes is the mathania chilli.
The Rajasthani palate seems to have a penchant for the rich flavours of shrikhand, infused with saffron and cardamom. Regarding the more unique preparations in Rajasthani cuisine, Ker and Sangri are commonly featured in their pickles and other dishes. They share their enthusiasm for milk-based products, such as Lassi, Badam Milk and Makhaniya Lassi, with the rest of the country.
Preparations from the Pink City
Our first stop in our journey through Rajasthan was the capital city, Jaipur, also famously known as the ‘Pink City’, for the trademark colours of its historical buildings. Our team researched and carefully collated a list of renowned culinary establishments that have stood the test of time. Some popular restaurants and shops were Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar, Vijaylal Acharwala, Namkeen Gali, Imliwala and Rawat Mishtan Bhandar.
From these legendary Jaipuri places, three traditional mouth-watering specialities emerged:
– The traditional Rajasthani Thali, a centrepiece of Rajasthani cuisine, boasts of a wide range of delectable Rajasthani fare served on one plate, characterised by a vibrant and diverse assortment of dishes, reflects the rich gastronomic heritage of the desert state of India. At its heart is the staple, aromatic basmati rice, accompanied by an array of exquisite side dishes like Dal Baati Churma, Gatte ki Sabzi, Ker Sangri, Laal Maas, Bajre Ki Roti or Missi Ki Roti, Churma Laddoo, and of course Papad and Pickles.
– Laal Maas – a culinary gem in Rajasthani Cuisine, this tantalising meat curry features succulent pieces of mutton or lamb, slow-cooked to perfection. What sets Laal Maas apart is its vibrant red hue, achieved through the generous use of fiery red chillies that infuse the gravy with intense heat and a distinct, piquant taste. It is a must-try for those who relish the thrill of savouring a truly spicy and flavourful dish that reflects the robust essence of Rajasthan.
– Pickles – a spicy side dish heavy with authentic flavours- are essential to Rajasthani cuisine. These play a crucial role in enhancing the taste of meals and provide a burst of tanginess, spice, and savoury goodness. Some of the popular types of pickles in the region are Ker Sangri, Mirchi Ke Tipore, Gunda Pickle, Laal Mirch, Aam Laccha, Hing Ki Chutney and Meetha Nimbu.- Pickles – a spicy side dish heavy with authentic flavours- are essential to Rajasthani cuisine.
These play a crucial role in enhancing the taste of meals and provide a burst of tanginess, spice, and savoury goodness. Some of the popular types of pickles in the region are Ker Sangri, Mirchi Ke Tipore, Gunda Pickle, Laal Mirch, Aam Laccha, Hing Ki Chutney and Meetha Nimbu.
Looking at the infinite possibilities stemming from our discoveries in Rajasthan’s capital, we began to envision how many of these unique ingredients could bloom into new culinary product lines. Kadi chokhanwali, Gatte ki sabzi, Panchmel dal Laal Maas, and Rajasthani Spice mix (Mathania chilli, Hing, Pudina, Garam masala, Chaat masala) could be just the ingredients our future collaborators would need to create a delicious line of gravy and curry mixes derived from Rajasthani cuisine.
Cuisine from Camel Country
Onto our next stop, our team went to the heart of the Thar Desert, Bikaner. Famous for its camel breeding, this city is also commonly referred to as ‘Camel Country’. Their exploration found them in famous eateries such as Bishanlal Babulal, Bhikaram Chandmal, Bikaner Bhujia Bhandar and Agarwal Supari Bhandar, where they were able to sample the best of traditional namkeens that this city had to offer.
We discovered Bikaner’s passion for Namkeen! Paneer Bhujia, Tamatar Sev, Methi Bhujia, Hing Bhujia, Achari Mathri and Rajasthani Bhakarwadi are some namkeen varieties that are unlikely to be found anywhere else in India.
Jodhpuri Approach to Culinary Delights
On our last stop, our team dove into the Rajasthani cuisine offerings of another city in the middle of India’s Thar desert. Known for being the epicentre of Rajput history and culture, Jodhpur also served as a trade route which facilitated the amalgamation of many cultures and cuisines.
To explore the city’s best in snack and beverage specialities from Rajasthani cuisine, our team explored Janta Sweet Home, Shahi Samosa, Arora Chaat House, Sarangi and Shri Mishrilal to find out what made these establishments stay relevant through the ages. We discovered their diverse offerings in traditional and authentic Rajasthani Chaat, far more than the chaat dishes commonly recognised in India and across the globe.
Shahi Samosa, Bharwa Mirch, Kachori Dahi Chaat, Palak Chaat and Pyaaz Kachori are a few of our most unique chaat findings. Kaju Curry, Sev Curry and Panchmel Dal are some of the most popular gravies found in Jodhpur.
The Jodhpuri fascination with Shrikhand is similar to the Jaipuri preoccupation with the flavour profile, where even the curd used in chaat is flavoured with elaichi, sugar and saffron!
Kachori Chaat, palak Dahi Chaat, Pyaaz Kachori/Stuffed Mirch Vada and Jodhpuri Kaju Curries have the potential to create products that could create flavourful riots on the palate in the best possible way.
The Way of the Warrior
On the way home, the team was inspired by the explosive discovery of flavours and textures in Rajasthani cuisine that could lend themselves to culinary innovations not commonly found in the market. The potential for disrupting how we envisage snacks and curries set our wheels in motion.
We are all set and ready to collaborate and co-create the most vibrant and mouth-watering food products inspired by Rajasthan. Are you?
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