Enjoy the Exotic Cuisine of the Land of Rajas, Rajasthan

Rajasthan, Rajputana, the land of Rajas or kings is a state pulsating with life. The people are friendly and affable by nature. The beauty of the golden sands of the desert, the plush palaces and havelis add magic to the exquisiteness of this land.

The cuisine of Rajasthan is rich, exotic and mainly vegetarian. A variety of curries and sweets, a range of unique, spicy and rich dishes are prepared here.

The vegetarian food is mainly of two types, food for common man and food for Marwari Jains. An assortment of spices and herbs are used in the food prepared by the common people while the food prepared by the Marwaries is cooked without onion and garlic. Popular dishes include gate ki sabzi, khichra, dal bati churma etc.

People here also savor non-vegetarian food prepared from lamb, chicken, pea-cock etc. Some well liked dishes are safed maas, maas ki kadhi, laal maas a very spicy dish, etc. In the kitchens of Rajas, the recipes of the dishes were passed on from father to son and these were not disclosed to others.

Due to the shortage of water and green vegetables in the desert area, butter milk, butter and milk are used during cooking. Pulses, beans, gram flour and spices like garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin seeds, red chillies etc. are commonly used.

Cuisine of different places:

Jaipur – The pink city of Jaipur is known for its vegetarian cuisine as well as the sweets. The most popular dishes are Dal Bati Churma, Ghevar  and  Dal ki Kachoudi. Kachoudi and Jalebi are served for breakfast.

Jodhpur – Jodhpur is known for its spicy and sweet dishes. Every meal starts with a sweet dish like ladoos, and ends with Dal Batti. Creamy lassi is also served with the meal. Pyaaz kachouri, Besan ki chaaki, maakhan vade are some of the popular food items of Jodhpur.

Jaisalmer – The cuisine here is traditional and reflects the rich cultural inheritance. The vast assortment of dishes is prepared with fewer amounts of oil and lots of chilli. The food is spicy and hot. Some of the popular dishes are Ker Sangri, Kadi pakora, and bhanon aloo.

Some popular food Items of Rajasthan:

Rajasthani Dal – This dal is part of the famous Dal Baati recipe. It is prepared with Bengal gram, green gram, ginger, turmeric, asafetida, cumin seeds, onion, red chillies, amchur, ghee and salt.

Ghevar – This special sweet dish is generally prepared during the festivals of Teej and Rakhi. It is made from maida, corn flour, ghee, sugar, milk, kewra essence, soda bicarbonate, silver vark, and almonds.

Ker Sangri – This is prepared from dried ker (beans), dried beans (sangria), yogurt, olive oil, cumin seeds, red chillies, garlic paste, ginger, turmeric, coriander, amchur, garlic and salt.

Jodhpuri Vegetable Pulao – This recipe is from the royal kitchen of Rajas. It is prepared with cauliflower, fresh green peas, basmati rice, cumin seeds, ghee, fennel seeds, raisins, cashew nuts, almonds, dried dates, ginger paste, yogurt, garam masala, black pepper corns and salt.

Conclusion

So, if you are planning a trip to Rajasthan, you must try some of these exotic Rajasthani dishes like gatte ki sabzi and kadhi. The beauty of this desert region enthralls your heart and soul. To get the best taste in Rajasthani Food items, one must check the Ramdev food Masalas.

Turmeric – The Golden Glory: Widely Used Spice in Indian Cooking

The scientific name of turmeric is Curcuma longa. The turmeric powder is prepared by the roots of this plant. The powder has a yellow colour and a very good aroma. Turmeric has the first place in any puja, wedding or thread ceremony; house-warming etc. turmeric is the most important ingredient in the Indian kitchen. It gives colour, taste and aroma to the dishes. Turmeric has blood purifying, anti-septic and digestive properties. These days, we see an increase in the usage of artificial ingredients in various food and food products, which may affect our health adversely. With the intake of turmeric, the adverse effects on health can be controlled. Turmeric is also a very safe and an effective beauty aid. Applying a paste of turmeric and sandal wood to the face and washing it after 15 minutes makes the face glow and is believed to cure pimples.

Turmeric is also full of medicinal values. It has anti-cancer properties. For cuts, turmeric is applied to the cut to stop the bleeding and avoid infection. The intake of turmeric keeps pregnant women healthy. It helps to increase the anti-biotic properties in babies. Turmeric is a spice widely used in India in cooking various curries. It has also been used since ancient times as a traditional medicine and also for beauty care. In Ayurveda, the system of Indian medicine, it is an important herbal product prescribed for various ailments. It is very commonly used throughout India as an ingredient for traditional beauty care treatments. Some reputed health benefits of turmeric include a reputation for supporting healthy skin care, healthy cholesterol levels, liver and gall bladder health, and possible joint-pain relief through anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. The antioxidant power of turmeric is so effective that it actually helps to preserve the shelf-life of foods that it is added to. Turmeric has antiseptic properties. Putting its powder over the cuts, bruises or scrapes helps in stopping blood loss as well as healing the wounds.

The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric powder help in alleviating the pain associated with arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric is alterative, analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-allergic, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, appetizer, astringent, cardio-vascular, carminative, digestive, diuretic and stimulant. Natural plant products like turmeric have been formulated to heal and prevent dry skin, treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne, and retard the aging process. Traditionally, women rub turmeric on their cheeks to produce a natural golden glow, extract of turmeric has been added to creams for use. Washing with turmeric improves skin complexion. Natural cleansers like milk and turmeric powder are effective natural cosmetics in themselves; they bring a healthy glow to the skin and make the skin beautiful. They also help to restore youth by controlling wrinkles on the face. Effective healing properties of turmeric have made it sought after ingredient in cosmetics and drugs, as the leaf oil of turmeric and extract can also be used as bio-pesticides and sunscreens. Turmeric is also very effective tonic and a blood purifier. It is skin-friendly and constitutes an important ingredient in many creams and lotions.

Pinch of Amchur that Creates a Tangy Taste to Dishes

Amchur is the dried or dehydrated product prepared from unripe mangoes to be mostly used in curries. The unripe fruits are peeled and the flesh is cut into thin slices. The slices are then dried in the sun and packed in gunny bags for sale. Amchur is also marketed in the form of powder by crushing or powdering the dried peeled mango slices. Amchur is used as an accidulant or souring agent for curries. It is also used in chutneys, soups and certain specific curries. The rind is astringent, stimulating, tonic in debility of stomach. Also it is one of the most flavoured and popular masala used in Indian dishes. Amchur is the best substitute of tamarind and lemon.

A pinch of amchur can enhance the taste and flavour of chicken, fish, meat, prawns, pork, etc. It improves the taste of paneer, biryani, pulao, kachumber, salads and several dry vegetables and vegetables with the gravy. It is good for digestion and has a cooling effect. It is acidic and astringent and has high Vitamin A and Vitamin C content. It has high iron content and so is beneficial to people suffering from anaemia and pregnant women. It aids digestion and eases acidity. Amchur lends a citrusy acidic taste that is somewhat sweet to spicy.

It improves the taste of curries, chutneys, marinades, dipping sauces, soups, stews, fish, poultry, and meats. Formerly, the spice was rarely used outside of Indian cooking. Now, it has grown in popularity as an addition to vegetarian dishes both in the whole or powdered forms for its tart, sharp spiciness.  In India, mangoes are used fresh or preserved. As Amchur is highly concentrated and has a very potent flavour, it can be used instead of lemon in recipes. You can also substitute amchur for tamarind as amchur won’t change the colour of a lighter dish the way tamarind does. It is a natural foodstuff and thus scores much above the synthetic additives. In India, the mango is known as king of fruits due to the delicious fruit as well as being rich in vitamins and minerals. Amchur has a high citric acid content that is integral to the prevention of scurvy.

It has a high concentration of phenols, and phenolic compound have powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer abilities. Mangoes are low in carbohydrates and rich in anti-oxidants. Mangoes provide a pharmacologically active flavonoid, a natural xanthine, which has a number of pharmacological actions and possible health benefits. These include ant diabetic, antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, hepatic-protective, hypoglycaemic, anti-allergic and anticancer activity. It is also an excellent tenderizer and mainly used in Indian cooking as a souring agent in many curries and other dishes.  Try adding a pinch of amchur on steamed vegetables and fold in for a tangy taste. Sprinkle it on fresh cucumbers and fresh slices of onions. It is an excellent seasoning for grilled dishes. It is difficult to imagine many dishes without their distinctive spices and seasonings. Spices lend magical flavours to the dishes they are added to.

Red Chilli Powder for Good Health

Indian food is greatly influenced with chilli powder. The hot flavour of the chilli powder enhances the recipes. It is the base for making any flavoured, hot and spicy food. It is used in vegetarian and non-vegetarian cooking. It adds a lovely and wonderful red colour and sharp flavour in any recipe. Dishes can be easily enhanced and improved with adding a little amount of chilli powder in them.  Besides, red chillies are highly incorporated with the contents like Vitamin C and pro vitamin A. Capsaicin is a proven and an effective treatment for sensory nerve fibre disorders. Red chillies are known to be natural pain relievers. They are effective in clearing the congestion of the nose and lungs.

Red chillies greatly help the obese people, as they are known to help in losing weight and boost the immunity in the body. Red Chilli Powder is an indispensable ingredient in most dishes. The Red Chilli Powder adds a hot flavour to the dish. Chillies contain an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. The capsaicin in chillies has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals. Chillies contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.

Red chilli powder contains vitamin A and our body needs vitamin A for the maintenance of your eyesight as you age as well as to contribute to maintaining the health of your bones, teeth, skin, internal membranes and reproductive systems. Red chilli powder also contains vitamin C and vitamin C is an antioxidant. Vitamin C also helps strengthen your immune system and heal injuries. It is also rich in many important minerals.

Chilli has been the most important spice throughout the history. Chilli powder, when used in any dish, transforms the bland dish into a deliciously hot dish. Dried chilli contributes the major share among the spices consumed in India. It has a pungent and a pleasant flavour. Chillies stimulate our taste buds and thereby increase the flow of saliva which contains the enzyme amylase which in turn helps in the digestion of starchy or cereal foods etc. into glucose. It gives piquancy and spice to the dish. It is the easiest way to give life to the dish. Chillies stimulate our taste buds and thus increase the flow of saliva which contains the enzyme amylase which in turn helps in the digestion of starchy or cereal foods etc. into glucose.

Chillies help to clear the lungs, and stimulate digestive system and stimulate the taste buds. They act as detoxifiers as they remove waste products from our body and increases supply nutrients to the tissues. The pungency in the chilli powder depends on the variety of the chilli used in preparing the powder. The low oil content helps in retaining its red colour which will not fade away with time.

Garam Masala – The Famous Indian Blended Spices

A blend of ground spices used alone or with other seasonings is called the Garam masala. Different regions prepare garam masala recipes in accordance to region and personal taste and thus varying combinations of spices are used as per the local flavour. The spices are carefully blended to achieve a balanced effect. The famous Indian Garam Masala is available as a commercially prepared ground mixture. It is often added at the end of cooking a dish to retain its aroma. The garam masala is the most popular spice blend used throughout India. It is the basis for Indian curries. It gives a delicious final touch to a dish. Some of the basic whole spices used to prepare the garam masala are….bay leaves, cloves, cardamoms, peppercorns, cinnamon, mace, cumin seeds nutmeg, carom seeds, star anise, coriander seeds, etc. It has a pungent taste which is important to make the flavourful recipes.

The Garam masala is used in vegetable recipes, curries, dal and many such dishes. It can also be used as a great sprinkling powder, and can be used just before serving the hot and sizzling dishes. Using a small amount of garam masala powder is enough to bring out the richness of gravy and even vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Dal fry, dal makhani, simple dal can be topped with a pinch of garam masala for that unique touch at the time of serving. The Garam masala is to be stored in air-tight container and should be away from wet places.

Garam masala is known to be the heart of many Indian dishes. Spices actually slow down the ageing process while promoting weight loss. Black pepper used in the garam masala contains a type of antioxidant that is so powerful that it does a lot of good. Pepper is anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic. It increases the body’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals, and proteins. It is a natural metabolism booster, and also contains a compound that breaks down fat cells. Black Pepper is high in Vitamin K and manganese, which assists the body in metabolizing fats and carbs. Cardamom relieves gas, heart burn, and soothes stomach upsets. It increases blood circulation and also flushes the toxins from the body. It is a natural breath freshener. Cardamom reduces the formation of blood clots while lowering blood pressure and is a great source of manganese. It is also anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-carcinogenic.

Cinnamon is an excellent source of calcium and fibre. It is a natural painkiller and containsGaram Masala a potent antioxidant. It fights bad breath, and kills the bacteria responsible for it. Cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels while increasing insulin production. Cloves relieve tooth aches. Cloves have a blood purifying property and thus support a healthy immune system. Cloves boost the metabolism and remove toxins from the blood stream. They help cardiovascular health by preventing the formation of blood clots while regulating blood sugar levels. Cloves provide an excellent source of calcium and vitamin K. While low in Omega 6’s, cloves are impressively high in omega 3′s. So the famous Indian garam masala is not just tasty…but healthy too.

Asofoetida Powder – A Digestive Spice that Reduces Gas & Cholesterol in Body

ASAFOETIDA…

Early records mention that Alexander the Great carried this ‘stink finger’ west in 4 BC. Used as flavouring in the kitchens of ancient Rome, this pungent, resinous gum is used widely in Indian vegetarian cooking. Ferula asafoetida, a perennial of the carrot family, grows wild to 3.6 metres/ 12 feet high in huge natural forests. The plant is indigenous to Iran, Afghanistan and in the north of India. There is a smaller species called ferula narthex. The whole plant exudes the characteristic strong smell, described by some as a stink. The milky resin comes from both the thick stems and the root, and it dries into asafoetida.

In its raw state, the resin or the powder has an unpleasant smell. This completely disappears when the spice is added to a variety of vegetables, fish, pulse, and pickle ingredients. Used mostly in Indian vegetarian cooking, in which the strong onion-garlic smell enhances many dishes especially those of the Brahmin and Jain castes where onions and garlic are prohibited. Also used in curries, and pickles from India. The lump of resin would only be acceptable to keen Indian cooks who use a very small pieces at a time. For most of us, the powdered version is easier to handle. Buy asafoetida in small quantities. The powdered resin is usually mixed with flour to provide bulk.

Asafoetida is a useful antidote for flatulence and hence its popularity with Indian vegetarian cooks, who make generous use of pulses. There are claims for it being used to cure bronchitis and even hysteria. Asafoetida is useful as a digestive spice that has the additional benefit of lowering cholesterol and reducing gas. Asafoetida warms and corrects excess vata and kapha. The strong, sulphur like smell gives rise to the common name devils dung. Like most smelly herbs it nurtures the earth element and enhances stamina. Asafoetida consists of various natural elements: two thirds of it is carbohydrates, about 16% is water, and 7 % are minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, sulphur compounds and others. This herb is also a good source of fibre, proteins and vitamins. 100 g of Asafoetida powder has 297 calories. Since the early ages it’s known for its great sedative, spasmodic, expectorant, antibacterial, anti-fungal and carminative, stimulant and other valuable medicinal properties.

AMCHUR/ MANGO POWDER…

The mango tree is a member of the cashew and pistachio family, native to India, where the mango is known as the ‘King of Fruits’. The name amchur comes from aam, the Hindu word for mango, and chur meaning powder. The unripe mangoes are sliced, sun-dried and ground to a powder. Amchur powder has a sweet and sour flavour, with just a hint of resin. In the high temperatures of the Indian continent, mango powder keeps far better than fresh tamarind or lemons, other typical souring agents. It is used primarily in vegetarian dishes, where it is usually added towards the end of the cooking so that its astringent, yet slightly sweet-sour flavour is still detectable when the food is served. Mango powder is added to soups, marinades, curries and chutneys.

Types of Masalas – Garam Masala, Chat Masala, African & Barbeque Spice Mixtures

MASALAS…

Masalas are a blend of spices which can be a dry mixture or a paste. The flavours can be mild and fragrant or more highly spiced. This depends largely on the cook and the dish in which the masala is to be used. Sometimes the spices are dry-fried before grinding, which greatly enhances the flavour.

Garam masala – means hot or warm or hot spices. This is more used in north India. Unlike other spice mixtures, garam masala is often sprinkled over a finished dish to enhance the flavours, adding a gentle aroma of roasted spices, just before serving. It may also be used in the early stages of cooking to flavour a dish.

Chat masala -.chat is an Indian salad snack. It might consist of banana, papaya, guavas, chickoo, apples etc. chat masala is a spicy or rather a tart mixture used to flavour the salad, which can also be served as a refreshing first course before the main meal. The whole spices and salt are ground without dry-frying or roasting and then thoroughly mixed with the other ingredients.

Green masala paste – this mild masala paste, rich jewel-green in colour, is tangy with fresh mint and coriander leaves. It makes a wonderful addition to prawn, poultry and vegetable dishes or as addition to a simple dal.

Madrasi masala – this blend of dry and wet spices is typical of seasonings from South India. The dry spices are roasted and ground before adding garlic, finely grated ginger and vinegar to make a paste, which is then cooked in oil to develop the flavours before being stored in an airtight jar.

African spice mixture – highly spiced food is eaten with relish throughout the African continent. The spices were brought by the Arab traders and merchants over the centuries. Many of the cooks are women, and recipes are passed through the generations by families meeting and preparing food together for feasts, festivals and weddings so that the traditional recipes are kept alive. Of all he recipes, harissa is the best known and is quite simple to make at home. This chilli based condiment with a definite kick is widely used in Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian cooking. It is used neat as a side dish in which to dip pieces of grilled and barbequed meat and also stirred into soups and stews or added to the sauce for couscous. Harissa is sometimes to a puree of skinned and seeded fresh tomatoes and offered as a dip for kebabs or snacks. When added to natural yoghurt, harissa is an excellent marinade for pork and chicken. Harissa is prepared using red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, salt and olive oil.

Barbeque spice mixtures – barbequing is perhaps the most primitive yet delicious method of cooking whereby pieces of meat, poultry, fish or vegetables are rendered even more delicious with the addition of an aromatic blend of spices and herbs. These are rubbed into the food before cooking or converted into a marinade. Dry spice mixtures will keep for several months in a cool, dark place.

Spices in Indian Cooking – Spices for Aroma, Taste, Medicinal, Preservative, Seasoning

SPICES…

Spices have been the inspiration for trade, exploration, war, and poetry since the beginning of civilization. Spices are evidenced from the beginning of hieroglyphic practice. Not only were many men’s fortunes made in the pursuit of spices, spices at many periods throughout history literally served as currency. That ground pepper you shake on your salad was once worth its weight in gold. Archaeologists discovered spices in Egyptian tombs as early as 3000 BC. The strong preservative quality of many spices made them ideal for embalming. Many of the spices had strong connections or affiliations with different Gods. Throughout many periods of history, spices have claimed attention for their mystical properties. Trading spices among different cultures and countries over the centuries became a means of acquiring and flaunting power and influence.

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Ajwain – Strongly Pungent, Assertive and Aromatic Spice

AJWAIN….

Ajwain, commonly known as ajowan, bishop’s weed, ajowan caraway, carom seeds, or thymol seeds, is a plant of India, Pakistan and the Near East whose seeds are used as a spice. This beneficial herb is used in culinary process as spice as well as a major ingredient of different kind of medicines. Ajwain seeds are small in size but taste hot, penchant and bitter. It acts as good appetizer, laxative and stomachic. It is used as effective remedy in managing ailments like vomiting, mouth diseases, pile, treatment of ascites, abdominal tumor, abdominal pain etc. They are strongly pungent and aromatic. Ajwain seeds are rich in fibre, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Ajwain seeds consist of moisture, protein, fat, minerals, fibre, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. The active principles in the ajwain may help increase the digestive function of the intestinal tract by increasing gut juices. Continue reading

Indian Sweets – Shrikhand, Puranpoli, Kaju Barfi, Sooji Ladoo

Indian Sweets (MITHAAS…)

SHRIKHAND…

Ingredients:

1/2 kg. Curds/yoghurt

300grams sugar

1/2 tsp. cardamom powder

A few strands of saffron

1/2 tbsp. Pistachios & almonds crushed

Method:

Tie curd in a clean muslin cloth overnight. (6-7 hours).

Take into a bowl, add sugar, and mix.

Keep aside for 30 minutes to allow sugar to dissolve.

Rub saffron into 1 tbsp. milk till well broken and dissolved. Keep aside.

Beat the sugar-curd mixture.

Pass through a big holed sieve, pressing with hand or spatula.

Mix in cardamom powder and dissolved saffron and half of the nuts.

Empty the shrikhand into a glass serving bowl, top with remaining nuts.

Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

Variations: To make fruit flavoured shrikhand, eg. Mango, strawberry, etc., add pulp at the stage of adding cardamom and saffron.

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