Gems of the Desert

A 12-Day Spiritual Adventure

with Dandapani in North India

September 2018

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Cuisine of Kings

An Endless Menu in the Bountiful Desert

Rajasthan’s long tradition of lavish kitchens in Rajput palaces makes for absolutely exquisite cuisine. To immerse ourselves in this royal culinary experience, we will have a cooking class featuring classic Rajasthani fare. You will learn how to prepare a regal and delicious meal for your loved ones at home.

Much of the cuisine’s richness comes from the fact that many dishes are prepared with milk, butter or buttermilk instead of water. The arid climate of Rajasthan means that water has always been scarce in the region, and this naturally led to a distinctive cooking style. With little water, necessity became inspiration for the area’s cooks, and Rajasthani meals are known for creative use of local ingredients.

Also because of the arid climate, rice is less common in Rajasthan than in other parts of India, so an array of delicious and unusual breads supplement meals instead. Bajra, a kind of millet that grows well in the area, forms the basis of a number of classic Rajasthani dishes. The typical bread of rural villagers is bajra roti. Another distinctive Rajasthani bread, bati, is baked in the coals of a desert campfire, then dipped in butter and eaten with nutritious and delicious lentil dishes known as dals.

Unusual desert fruits and vegetables completely unknown in the west or even in other parts of India are used to make distinctive Rajasthani dishes. For example, ker is a dried sour fruit, sangri is a dried wild bean, and kumatia is a dried flat pod. When combined with red chillies and mango powder, they become the Rajasthani delicacy called pachkuta.

Vijay Kumar runs a food stall at the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan, India, and beats out tandoori rotis with machine gun speed.

thali rajasthan meal - 2018 Meditation & Yoga Retreat - Cuisine of the Kings

Even within Rajasthan, there are regional specialities. Mawa kachori, a sweet puff pastry filled with nuts from Jodhpur is famous throughout India. Jodhpur is also known for its Jodhpuri kabuli, a pilaf or biryani made with nuts, dried fruits and buttermilk. Festivals also have their distinctive foods such as ghevar, a sweet eaten especially around the festival of Teej.

Elaborate thalis, set meals served on distinctive metal trays, combine an array of dishes, each contributing a distinctive note to the overall meal. The Khansamas, hereditary royal cooks for the Rajasthani kingdoms, competed with each other in preparing and serving elaborate dishes to impress the Rajput kings and the thali is the pinnacle of their art.

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