We have been in Bikaner for a good time now and exploring the food alleys of the rich, ‘camel city’ has given our taste buds a traditional food ride. If you are a tourist in Bikaner, gigantic forts and heritage sites should definitely not be your only priority, it's scrumptious local cuisines should also be added in the list. With this in mind, let's take you through!
Chunni Lal Tanwar Sharbatwala- Out on an unusual trail, we gave ourselves the treat of sharbat shots. We chugged the elite white Rose flavour, it was very mild and subtle. There was a strong kewra shot, a kesar milk shot, a coriander shot which had a itr like khushboo (fragrance), a clove shot etc.
Sharbat is actually a refreshing sweet drink which has a flavoured concentrate. It is either mixed with milk or with water.
The rarest of all was the Jasmine sharbat shot. It was served to us in a clay tumbler and looked like sparkling water. It was an icy shot which smelled of petrichor. Nothing less than a beautiful craving!
Manka Maharaj Rabri Vale- The shop is a typical Bikaneri style shop. It looks very traditional with intricate carvings around the door. It was like a visit to the old days.
Our first dig was Kesar Rabri. It is a traditional dessert containing saffron (kesar) flavoured reduced milk. Pale warm yellow in colour, garnished with pistachios and thin strands of saffron, it was like a heavenly delight. A lot of other places serve it in the granular clay texture but here it had a loose sheet-like texture.
It was a fluffy mmmmmmm...
Next we ate Malai, a granular clay like dense pudding which comes from constantly boiled milk. Then chunks of it are stacked on top of each other in squares. There were no added flavours , it was naturally sweet. It Indicates an amazing quality!
Malai ladoo- It is shreds of malai rolled into a ball after stuffing it with dry fruits. Topped with finely chopped rose petals and pistachios, it looked very royal and subtle at the same time.It was slightly sweeter but that probably differs from person to person!
Bihani Supari Bhandar- Bikaner is not just famous for its sweets and snacks but the people of this temple town love areca nuts, churan and pickles.
In common language, areca nuts are supari and churan is digestive balls. We tried the pomegranate and asafoetida flavoured churan. They were sweet and tangy balls.
Did you know?
Areca nuts are not grown here but because they are so popular, the scent free nuts are imported from Karnataka and dried here. And the scented nuts are imported from Assam. Probably Bikaner is one of the biggest consumers of areca nuts.
Indra’s- Closing to our second last stop, we got ourselves a Bikaneri Thali. Rajasthan does have limited resources owing to its dry state but the food innovations are amusing! It is a routine platter that contains the traditional delicacies like gwar patha, dana methi, kaju ker, rabodi ki sabzi, gajar ka halwa and bajre ka sogra (pearl millet flatbread).
Gwar patha is sweet aloe vera and fenugreek based curry, kaju ker is a cashew based curry, rabori is corn papad based curry and gajar ka halwa is carrot pudding. There’s also a bhujia based curry.
Then, we also ate Rajasthan’s heart and soul which is Dal Bati Churma. It is basically baked wheat flour dough balls. It is crushed and laced with mildly flavoured channa and moong dal (lentil type), ghee (clarified butter) and some red chilly garlic chutney.
You’ll notice that curd is usually the main ingredient in almost all the gravys.
Matoolsa Doodh Wale- It's basically milk boiled in a big iron cauldron. It is just cow’s milk, no nuts and no flavouring. Plain or sweet flavour could be your preference! It is poured in a 400 ml clay tumbler.
Consider not filling up your stomach because the milk is going to be very thick. Also, you’ll get to witness a very organic process of white milk turning brown on its own in the cauldron. It is probably because of the duration for which it is simmered in it.
Towards the end of the very drooling food walk, our founder got presented with a beautiful Rajasthani title. Do check it out, make sure you watch the video!