Citizens – the blood that flows through the veins of the Blessed One – YOUR TFD! – has nary a drop of royal heritage in it, as it should be given that TFD prides Himself on maintaining the ultimate plebiscite with TFD Nation! That said, while I am a proletariat of the highest order, I have a tremendous affinity for recipes of a royal provenance!
The Indian state of Rajasthan is in fact known as ‘the royal state’ due to its long and noble history with warrior royalty leading the charge to build an empire that lasted hundreds of years! This recipe for Rajasthani grilled goat skewers is one of the many that belong to the royal tradition and I am honored to share my knowledge of maas ka sula with you today!
Rajasthani cuisine (Hindi: राजस्थानी खाना) was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. It is also known for its snacks like Bikaneri Bhujia, Mirchi Bada and Pyaaj Kachori.
According to a 2014 survey released by the registrar general of India, Rajasthan has 74.9% vegetarians, which makes it the most vegetarian state in India.
Despite the plenitude of Vegetarians, Rajasthani cuisine is also strongly influenced by the Rajputs, royals who are non-vegetarian and are kindred spirits of the carnivorous TFD. Their diet consisted of game meat and dishes like laal maas (meat in red gravy), safed maas (meat in white gravy), khad khargosh (rabbit cooked in underground pit) and jungli maas (game meat cooked with basic ingredients).
As noted on theculturetrip.com:
Rajasthan, the ‘Land of Kings’ as it is often dubbed, is one of the most visited states in India. With its opulent palaces, historic forts and plethora of cultural offerings, it wins over hearts at first glance.
In the 9th century, the Rajput dynasty took over the state, the most thriving era in the history of Rajasthan. The Rajputs were warriors and under their rule, the state grew by leaps and bounds. If you stroll along the streets of Rajasthan, you will see majestic historic structures, including forts, palaces and temples built by the Rajput clan. But over the centuries, the Rajput empire was split up into 21 dynasties and 36 royal clans. The unity among them was lost.
In 1192 CE, the Muslim sultanate defeated Prithviraj Chauhan of the Chauhan dynasty and conquered some parts of the state. Eventually, by 1200 A.D., the Muslim rulers established themselves in many parts of Rajasthan.
In the early 13th century, the most powerful seat was Mewar, which was still under the rule of the Rajputs. Almost every king had their eye on Mewar. It was the Mughal emperor, Akbar, who started getting close to many Rajput rulers – he even married a Rajput princess, Jodha Bai, daughter of Amer’s Maharaja. Post-marriage, many Rajput rulers made an alliance with Akbar, which strengthened his control and power over the state. The combination of the Rajput clan and the Mughal empire influence is reflected even today in the historical and architectural landscape of the state.
However, there were some Rajput rulers who were against Akbar and never bowed down to him and were in constant war with Akbar. In 1526, a battle between Akbar and Udai Singh took place, in which Akbar took over Chittorgarh, Mewar’s capital. After the defeat, the women of the Rajput clan committed self-immolation (burned themselves to death) in order to protect their honour. Almost the entire Rajputana (now called ‘Rajasthan’) came under the control of Akbar.
An exceptionally well-researched story on Forbes India goes into great detail about the royal descendants of the Rajput today and their unique cuisine – I shall excerpt parts of it here, but you can and should read the article in its entirety here.:
Laal Maas, Govind Gattas, Doodh ke Samose, Kaleji ka Raita, Khad Khargosh, Khargosh ki Mokal, Lahsoon ki Kheer… the aromas wafted over from the kitchens of our royal neighbours in Jaipur every day, bearing with them the gossamer heritage of warrior traditions, hunting expeditions, ceremonial repasts. More than 25 years later, when I see restaurants serve up yet another watered down version of Jungle Maas or Laal Maas, I wince. Rajasthan’s palace cuisines are in serious danger of surviving only as parodies of their former selves.
The apprehension grows as Rani Laxmi Chundawat, author of many books on Rajasthan and perhaps one of the oldest royals around at 94, holds forth on the scale and intricacy of the dishes of her youth. “Each king had at least 10 cooks in his personal kitchen, members of the Wahri caste in Marwar and of the Bhoi caste in Mewar. Breakfast comprised a minimum of 10 dishes.
Each king had a ‘ration’ of mewa (dry fruits). They were also assigned rotis of a particular weight, which would be served with each meal. My father, the rawat of Deogarh, for instance, had a sawa ser ki roti, which was served to him and then distributed among his retainers and their families.”
“Each thikana [royal household] in Rajasthan also made its own alcohol. There was a system for training people in alcohol-
Creativity and humour also came into play when the son-in-law visited his sasural for the first time. “A live partridge would be enclosed in a box and set at his place with the usual fork, spoon and knife. The moment he opened the box, the bird would fly away, ffffrrrrr!” And what about the legendary Rajasthani Sula? “It was actually suda,” Rani Laxmi smiles, “made from the meat from the back of a goat leg. After it had been roasted over an open charcoal fire, hot ghee was poured over it; the resulting smoke was the source of the flavour.”
This royal historic dish of mutton skewers today is made primarily with goat meat, which is both tender and delicious if you choose the right cut. We will indeed choose the right cut – from the back of the goat leg to be specific. Ask for it specifically from your local Halal butcher (who typically carry goat) or other source.
The good news is that you do not need to grill these outdoors, as it uses a unique technique to infuse smoke and spice aromas into the meat using a single piece of charcoal, over which ghee (clarified butter) and spices are poured. The vessel is then closed and the smoky spice aroma and flavor is transferred to the meat over a multi-hour period. A delicious Rajasthani marinade is used to tenderize and flavor the meat as well – redolent with rare and unique spices, as is the Rajasthani way.
Rajasthan is the home of some famous pink salt, so I recommend using pink Himalayan salt as a good substitute – buy it here. You can buy the apropos red chili powder here, an excellent pre-made garam masala blend here, chat masala here, and excellent grass-fed butter ghee here. I specify using the rare Japanese binchotan charcoal for this dish, as it is the purest on Earth and burns hot and true – you can buy 2 sticks of it here. Nothing complements the goat meat as much as the smoke of binchotan!
Lastly, this goat dish calls for a unique Rajasthani spice, known as kachri, which is dried and pulverized wild cucumber – it gives a pleasant tangy taste to the dish and you can buy it here. If for some reason you can’t find kachri (it is very rare, even in India) you can use green mango powder, known as amchur, as a substitute – get it here.
Citizens, the cuisine of royal Rajasthan is one I intend to explore more closely over the coming months – in the meantime, please do enjoy this legacy of elder days of yore made properly to TFD’s ruthless standards. Enjoy the grilled goat meat with its appropriate accompaniment of Rajasthani chili garlic chutney!
Battle on – the Generalissimo
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