Monday, August 23, 2010


In the arid desert regions of Rajasthan nothing is wasted—not even time, and curries are thick for carrying out to the fields to eat with thick millet, corn or barley flat breads, chili chutney and small raw onions, which are said to prevent sunstroke. In the driest regions meats are cooked in milk or yogurt with ghee. Small desert berries, called ker and a type of tree bean known as sangri are sun-dried and cooked in oil or yogurt to save water or are pickled. Grains, breads, yogurt and buttermilk are staples.  Bati are balls of dough mixed with ginger-garlic paste and green chilies baked in a charcoal fire, and dipped in ghee. Choorma are fried bati, crushed with sugar and almonds and eaten rolled into small balls with ghee or added to a spicy dal curry to make dal-bati-choorma, a savory-sweet combination. The Marwaris of Rajasthan are strict vegetarians from the bania, or business class and have drifted far and wide where commerce has taken them—many settled in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Typical vegetarian fare includes deep-fried puffy whole wheat breads, thick lentil and bean stews flavored with cumin and mustard seeds, potatoes in spicy gravy and vegetables stir-fried with chilies and spices.

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