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Rajasthan Cuisine-Rajasthan Rural Food

The cuisine of Rajasthan is a product of its geographical, historical and cultural background. Though the emphasis is more on nutrition than on fuss and ostentation, give the harsh climatic conditions, the people of Rajasthan have produced so much variety from so little. The war- like lifestyle of the Rajputs and the unavailability of ingredients in this desert region influenced the eating habits of the people; food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating war preferred, more out of necessity than choice.
Given the fact that more than half of Rajasthan is made up of desert, there is very little that grows here and fresh vegetables were unheard of in the pre-communication days. Improved means of transportation and communication changed all that and now more fresh vegetables and fruit are available by the day but not less than 30 years ago there were only hardy desert vegetables and cereals.
Thar, the Great Indian Desert, immortalised in song and folklore as Marusthali (The land of Death) lies in north-west Rajasthan, but not all of this state is wasteland. The Arawali hills, the oldest geographical feature of the Indian-subcontinent, is a rocky spine that divides Rajasthan into two regions of startling contrasts: one is barren while the other has lakes, forests and fertile land.

The desert region comprises Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner. The land here is unyielding, rainfall is scanty and vegetation comprises patches of grassland, dry shrubs and stunted trees. Crops cultivated are hardy cereals like Millet (Bajra) and barley (jowar). It's hostile, harsh and merciless region yet culturally the more interesting side of Rajasthan.

While we eulogise about Rajasthan`s glorious past comprising Maharajas and Maharanis and brave Rajput warriors who spent months away from home conquering unfriendly terrain to establish their kingdoms, there was more to their lives than that.

Their main battle was that of survival against the extreme climate, droughts and the lowering of water tables, the hot sand dunes and dust-laden winds that ensured that cultivation was next to impossible. Yet the people created some of the most sumptuous food from the little that was available.

They conquered the desert with their spirit and built their forts & palaces here. They controlled the caravans on the desert trade routes, levying a tax on the traders for their safe passage. Though these traders came new spices, new ingredients and flavors that enriched the local cuisine. Today the cuisine of the desert is considered unique and among the most interesting in the country.


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