Marwari Vegetarian Cooking
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This book is the result of my research into the lesser-known cuisines of India. Rajasthan is a state that is steeped in culture and tradition. There are many regions in the state but the one that appeals foremost to the chef in me is Marwar. The Marwaris, who belong to the merchant community, are vegetarians. The warriors or Rajputs, are meat-eaters. The Rajputs relish dishes made from chicken and lamb. In the past, they also ate the spoils of their hunting or shikaar, which included the meat of animals and birds like the wild boar, deer, peacock, quail, duck, pheasant, rabbit and even camel!
The vegetarian food again comes in two varieties - the food that includes various spices and herbs and the food of the Marwari Jains that is prepared without onions, garlic or for that matter, any vegetable that grows under the soil, except for ginger and groundnuts. I was first introduced to Marwari cuisine in my student days when I visited this royal state during vacations. Each day of our stay there, we got to taste a variety of dishes, which
made me realise that there is more to Marwari cuisine than the famous dal bati, served soaked in oodles of pure ghee, and churma.
Marwari vegetarian cooking has its own unique flavour. The simplest and the most basic of ingredients go into the preparation of most of the dishes. The harsh climate and the non-availability of a lot of ingredients have shaped the traditional cuisine. Scarcity of
water meant using milk, buttermilk and ghee in cooking. Non-availability of vegetables like tomatoes led to the use of dried mango powder and yogurt to lend sourness to a dish. Gram flour is a major ingredient in delicacies like kadhi, gatte ki sabzi, pakodi and a liberal dose of asafoetida combats its flatulent effect. Powdered lentils are used to make mangodi and papad; whereas corn and bajra are used in dishes like khichdi and roti.
Various chutneys made from locally-available spices like turmeric, coriander, mint and garlic also form a part of their menu.
My purpose in writing this book is to give Marwari vegetarian food the recognition and celebration that it deserves. You will find here a delicious variety of recipes ranging from Bharwaan Gatte, Arbi Ka Khatta Shaak, Chane Jaisalmer Ke and Dahiwale Amrud to Ker Sangri, Papad Rolls, Mooli Bajra Roti, Lapsi and Malpua. All the recipes are meant to serve four people keeping in mind that there are other complementary dishes in the meal.