Rajasthan, a state artistic and cultural in a way that reflects ancient India, is very rich not only in the folk culture but also in the cuisine. Primarily, it is the home of vegetarians and offers several mouth watering dishes. One of the very famous combos offered in Rajasthan is the “Thali”.
The thali system is very famous in the cities as well as remote areas of Rajasthan. Before describing the very delicious contents of this thali, let’s first have a brief overview of the spices and kitchen where this typical thali is prepared.
The spice content is quite high in comparison to other Indian cuisines, but the food is tasty and irresistible. Ghee is used to prepare every dish and its very smell opens up the minds and hearts of the deities. A deficit of fresh green vegetables, a prominent use of pulses, lentils, legumes and the abundant use of curd, milk, and buttermilk in place of the water (due to the scarcity) in the gravy represents the fundamentals of Rajasthani cuisine.
The traditional Rajasthani kitchen is lacking the modern amenities such as ovens, burners and even the LPG. The oven is often made up of bricks and mud stoves which burn on coal or dried cakes of camel dung. The chapattis are cooked on direct flame and this is believed to be therapeutic. Heavy brass utensils and thick bottomed pots and pans (such as kadhai, tawa and haandi) serve the style of cooking best. Mortar and pestle are used extensively to grind and wooden spoons and ladles complete the picture of a Rajasthani kitchen.
After knowing the specialty of Rajasthani kitchen, let’s move on to the best part of cuisine, the food. The typical rajasthani thali consists of several curries presented with a variety of side dishes and chapattis followed by a sweet.
Few of the dishes are Bail-Gatte, Balusahi, Besan-Chakki, Chaavadi, Churma, Dal-Bati, Dhungari Hui Chaach, Ghevar, Googri, Jhajariya, Laapasi, Nukhti, Panchkoota, Raabdi and Tarfini. Some of the popular curries are Beans ki sabji, Gajar ki sabji, Guwar fali ki saag, Karela ki sabji, Keri ki sabji, Khaddi, Kicha ki sabji, Kikoda ki sabji, Makki ki raab, Matar ki sabji and Moranga ki sabji.
A typical hotel will start the menu by welcoming the guests with a big glass of “Dhungari Hui Chaach” and fill the stomachs of every person. Now you would be thinking if this fills them then do they actually wait for the other dishes? Well, yes. This “Chaach” acts as an appetizer and within half an hour or so, you feel hungry and this time you are a lot hungrier than before.
Then you are offered a very cozy place to sit down where people come with the big plates, commonly known as thali. The thali is placed in front of you and then the dishes start pouring in.
One of the most popular items is Dal Bati Churma. Dal means lentils, bati means a baked wheat ball, and churma is basically a sweetened & powdered cereal. But, this doesn’t end this magnanimous thali. “Gatte ki sabji” is very famous in this region and the very spicy vegetable adds spice to your tongue. Then comes their very own varieties of chappatis, “Bajre ki roti” and “Makke ki roti”. “Onion raita” which is thick curd mixed with chopped onions adds a special rural touch to the plate (better call it a thali). All of this is supplemented with lots of butter on top of every curry as well as chapattis.
You think the thali ends here. NO, never. This food is followed by a variety of pickles, papads and chutneys. The very famous ones are Mango and Lemon pickles, Tamatar ki Launji, Lehsun ki Chutney, Imly ki Chutney, Aam Launji and Pudina Chutney for the cultural tang and Moong Dal Papads, Masala Papads, Mangodis, Pakodis and Badis are some of the papads.
May be now you would think that finally this thali has come to an end, well then there is still one more thing to come. How could any Rajasthani food get over without any sweet dish? So, in this thali a variety of sweet dishes are given at the end, starting with icy cold “Kheer” served with hot “Jalebis” followed by “besan ki chakki”.
Really this is a true treat for those who believe in enjoying every culture with a good food. So, if you are planning a trip to Rajasthan, then don’t even dare to miss the typical Rajasthani thali.