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Like everywhere else I travel, my priority is discovering and sampling the local cuisine, and in Rajasthan, a popular everyday meal is a Rajasthani thali that includes dal and baati. From Delhi, we took a quick train ride to Jaipur, the capital and largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The city is also known as the Pink City and there are quite a few things to do and see around the area. I was most interested in the cuisine!
So my first Rajasthani food meal was at Santosh Bhojnalaya, located very near the bus station in Jaipur. It’s a local style Indian restaurant, serving up hungry travelers that need a quick and delicious feast. This local restaurant had little on the menu but a selection of thalis, the Rajasthani version being the most popular.
I order the dal baati. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to get at first, but unlike south India where rice is dominant, rice isn’t all that popular in Rajasthan. The meal I go included just a small side of rice, not the main dish of the meal. Anyways, dal is the lentil soup that ubiquitous in nearly all Indian thali meals. Baati are small wheat balls that in this case were deep fried, about the size of golf balls, and very crispy on the outside. They were crumbly on the inside, thick, and heavy, very hearty too. As soon as I was served my Rajasthani food, the server broke up one of my baatis to show me how to eat it. He then instructed me to mix my broken baati with the dal and mingle it together before taking a bite. The baati was a little on the dry side, but I did really like it. The thali also included a few other different types of dal and a few other vegetarian sides dishes. Along with dal baati, I also had a few chapatis which were served hot and fresh and very oily. My set meal also included a dessert which was like a crumbly nutty pastry.
Rajasthan is a dessert dry state in India, so the food reflects the climate and conditions. It’s a place where food needs to be preserved, especially when embarking on long camel treks through the desert. Dal baati preserves well and travels well, so that’s how it developed the way it did. I highly enjoyed my very first Rjasthani food meal in Jaipur, India!
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