Sushma kk is a well known author of cooking books


Rajasthan- known for its tradition of chivalry, its forts, palaces and havelis, its colourful clothes and festivals- is also famous for its delectable and varied cuisine. The taste of the kachodas of Naseerabad, the onion kachories, and mirchi bada of Jodhpur, the corn kachories of Udaipur, the jakorva puri and karela chaat from Bikaner, are just some examples of the regional specialties offered by this province composed of erstwhile princely states. The influence of princely cuisine can be seen in the chakki curry, kabuli, govind gatte, bikaneri khichda, kheech, mawa kachoris, diljani, bakli, and gulab sakri and scores of other vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. In the royal kitchens, the use of clarified butter as a cooking medium was the order of the day. This gave the food a special taste. To obtain this taste, garlic chutney, onion-potato vegetable, bajra khichra, green chillies taporas are still prepared in clarified butter, particularly on special occasions.

The culinary tradition of Rajasthan is also deeply marked by the climatic conditions prevailing in a desert region. These were not conducive to the cultivation of vegetables except during the rainy season. With transport facilities also fairly undeveloped till recently, preservation techniques like dehydration and pickling were employed so that the vegetables grown in this brief period could be used during the rest of the year. A variety of dishes, now popular as Rajasthani specialities, like panchakuta, kair sangri kadhi, and kachri chutney were created from these dried vegetables. Pickles of kair, lesua, garlic, avla and green chilli also had their place in everyday food. One must also not forget to mention Aloe vera (gwarpatha) which thrived in this region and was available round the year. Known for its unique medicinal properties, the plant was used to prepare a host of dishes- ladoos, kanji, pickle, to name only some. Among pulses and grains, those that required less water were grown here: chana, moong , moth and bajra. These became the base for the preparation of many dishes which are typical to Rajasthan: besan gatte, mangodi, mota dana, bajra bedvi etc. Batee is another specialty for which Rajasthan is known. This bread is tastiest when prepared on ‘kandas’ (cow dung cakes) and batee, dal churma is the preferred menu in picnics ‘goths’ in the rainy season. In addition, batees can be preserved for a long time as evidenced from recent excavations in Jalor in which some batees, believed to have been buried in the sand by soldiers, were discovered.

In this book, I have tried to present recipes which represent the culinary traditions of different regions of Rajasthan in their contemporary form but cooked in the modern kitchen. The credit for making it possible for these recipes to reach the reader goes entirely to my husband, K.K. Agarwal who gave guidance at every step in the preparation of the book. A gourmet and a jeweller, he not only kept up my enthusiasm but also contributed the photographs of the dishes and the cookery techniques in this book. My thanks are also due to Dainik Bhaskar, Rajasthan Patrika and several other magazines which have published my recipes from time to time. I am also grateful to my son Taru who typed the manuscript and above all, to my readers who, by appreciating my earlier works, inspired me to write yet another book.