Each region in India has its own traditional dishes and specialties. In the royal kitchens of Rajasthan, as well as most other states, the food was very serious business and raised to the level of an art-form. Hundreds of cooks worked in the stately palaces and kept their recipes a closely guarded secret.
Some recipes were passed on to their sons and the rest were lost for ever. It became a matter of great prestige to serve unusual dishes to guests and the royal cooks were encouraged to experiment. The tales of how cooks tried to impress their guests by presenting at least one unforgettable item on the menu have now become legends. The food was served in gold and silver utensils and possible to taste all the delicacies served.
The finest cooking in India was derived from the Mughals and did influence the royal kitchens of India, as did European cooking. But the common man’s kitchen remained untouched, more so in Bikaner. Cooking here has its own unique flavor and the simplest, the most basic of ingredients go into the preparation of most dishes.
Bikaner cooking was influenced by the war-like lifestyle of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred, more out of necessity than choice. The scarcity of water, fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking.
In this desert belt cooks use minimum of water and prefer, instead, to use more milk. buttermilk and clarified butter dried lentils, beans from indigenous plants like sangri, ker, etc. are liberally used. Gram flour is a major ingredient here and is used to make some of the delicacies like khata, gatta ki sabzi, pakodi, powdered lentils are used for mangodi, papad. Bajra and corn is used all over the region for preparations of rabdi, kheechdi, and rotis.
Various chutneys are made from locally available spices like turmeric, coriander, mint and garlic. Perhaps the best known Rajasthani food is the combination of dal, bati and churma but for the adventurous traveler, willing to experiment, there is a lot of variety available. Besides spicey flavors, Bikaner is distinguished by its popular sweet Rasogullas, Raj Bhog, GaundPak, Ghevar, Fini, and Rabri.