Rarely has the world seen so rich a cuisine from so
little that was available from the land. While the eastern region of
the state has fertile soil capable of crops of everything from wheat
and maize to millets and corn, for much part the desert`s dry terrain,
prone to droughts, was incapable of producing even basic necessities
of survival. Yet, live and eat they did, creating an exotic cuisine
from the soil that threw up a few pulses, crops of millet, and trees
with beans that were dried and stored for use when, in the summers,
nothing would grow.
Communication and faster means of transportation have brought in a revolution in the choice of vegetables and fruits that are now available throughout the state, but this was not always so. Which is why, for the villager, his diet still remains sparse, and consists of dairy produce, bread of millets and accompaniments of gram flour and sour buttermilk which, say dieticians across the world, is a high-protein, low-fat cuisine. Perhaps that is what gives the people of the desert their erect gait and slender build.
An important feature of non-vegetarian cooking in the Rajput kitchen was that it was rarely cooked on the main stove in the kitchen, and usually employed the male head of the family as its chef. The women, whether the family was vegetarian or meat eating, had their task cut out for them. They would dry the meagre sangri and gwarphali beans that are eatable, and store them for future use. They would also make papads and endless other variations and dry them, also for storage, later to be turned into curries for the family.
Accompaniments rarely changed over the region. Desserts were, by and large, rare, though exotic concoctions from vegetables were sometimes served. For most, for festive occasions, these would consist of seera, a halwa made of cooked wheat flour in ghee, or laapsi, a porridge made with desiccated grains of wheat. Rice, a delicacy in Rajasthan, was served as a sweet with the addition of sugar, saffron and dried nuts and raisins.
If Jaipur has its specialty, none of the other princely states have lagged behind. Bikaner has its savouries, especially bhujiya, which has accounted for its fame, and the quality of its papads and badi remains unrivalled. The lean mutton of the desert goats of this region too is considered the most favourable. Jodhpur has its kachoris.In Bharatpur, milk sweets, rarely commercially available, occupy a niche by themselves. A Rajasthani delicacy, linked with the monsoon festival of Teej, is called ghevar, consisting of round cakes of white flour over which sweetened syrup is poured. Today, variations include lacings with cream and khoya, making it a delightful concoction. Muslim food has also occupied a place in the overall cuisine of the state, not just in pockets such as Tonk and Loharu, but also in Jaipur .