It might come as a surprise to many, but the city of Bikaner has a lot more to it than the famous Bikaneri Bhujia. A hub for history buffs and culture enthusiasts, Bikaner has always been a hot favourite among tourists, especially those looking for a dose of the desert life. Known for its great hospitality and etiquettes, the city is dotted with several hole-in-the-wall eateries, some being more than a century-old. Be it a king-size breakfast, or a quick tea time snack, one can enjoy a number of Rajasthani delicacies here. Our recommendation would be to head straight to Chotu Motu Joshi, the iconic Bikaneri halwai, boasting of a legacy of more than a hundred years. If you’re a first time visitor to this cultural centre, here are some delicacies that you should not miss!
A little larger in size than kachori, khasta is something all Bikaneris swear by. Since the term 'khasta' literally means flaky, the snack has a crispy, flaky texture and is filled with spicy lentils. A fan favourite throughout the year, this savoury bread can be stored for days together. Often served with a plate of flavourful potato curry, it doubles as a breakfast item as well as an evening snack. One can find numerous tiny stalls offering this mouth-watering snack throughout the city. A pro tip would be to top it up with chutneys, onions, tomatoes, yogurt and sev and you’ve got yourself a treat!
Gatte ki sabzi
Rajasthan is known for oozing oodles of spices and ghee but the authentic gatte ki sabzi might make you want to reconsider that. Made from gram flour, the preparation is available in two forms—dry and curry. The yogurt-based gravy consists of gatta or steamed gram flour dumplings and is considered an absolute treat in the region. While the USP of the dish lies in its simplicity, the exotic versions contain a wide range of ingredients as diverse as poppy seeds, groundnuts, and even cloves.
It's got everything to set your mouth on fire! Hot, spicy and rich, laal maas comes straight from the royal kitchen. A mutton curry, prepared in yogurt-based gravy with a generous amount of red chilies (Mathania chillies), laal maas is a meat-lover's dream come true. Traditionally, the dish was prepared using wild boar or deer (captured after the royal hunt), but today, mutton is the choice of meat. According to popular belief, Marwaris are strict vegetarians, however, laal maas continues to define Marwari cuisine. As per reports, executive chef Sandeep Kalra stated that two features pertinent to an authentic laal maas are the use of mustard oil and its smoky flavour. During the preparation, a bowl with a burning piece of charcoal, infused with cloves and clarified butter is placed on top and the utensil is sealed shut. This smoke from the charcoal elevates the aroma and flavour of the meat. This royal dish is a testament to the rich heritage of hunting and meat-eating by the Rajput warriors.
View this post on Instagram
Shrouded in mystery, it won't be an exaggeration to call fini Rajasthan's best kept secret. It's believed that it's nearly impossible to replicate this dish other than by the traditional Rajasthani halwais. A winter delicacy straight out of Bikaner, we'd suggest head to Bikaram Chandmal to taste the real deal. The saffron-flavoured sweet resembles a desi cotton candy to a certain extent and immediately melts in your mouth. Made with rice flour and ghee and soaked in sugar syrup, the golden yellow tinge on top coupled with the intoxicating aroma of saffron and cardamom makes it simply irresistible! Often served with a bowl of hot milk, it can also be enjoyed with a topping of rabdi as well.
It would be criminal to not talk about the beloved Bikaneri bhujia, while discussing the cuisine of the former princely state. About a decade ago, Bikaneri bhujia was given the GI tag, which might make many wonder—what's the hype all about? Well, you've got to taste it to know it! This addictive snack today is made all over India but what sets the Bikaneri version apart is the core ingredient—ground moth lentils, a crop found specifically in Bikaner and Jodhpur. Complimenting almost all Indian side dishes, the Bikaneri bhujia is hard to miss. Today it has become synonymous with the city's feasting culture. One can find several hole-in-the-wall shops along the bylanes of Bhujia bazaar selling these munchies.
Believe it or not, rasgullas can be a dangerous territory. While it's a bone of contention between Bongs and Odias, did you know about the Bikaneri obsession with this dessert? A city known for its halwai culture, the iconic Chotu Motu Joshi here has been serving this sugary goodness to its patrons for more than a decade. An institution in itself, one can see hordes of people lining up outside the modest establishment from early hours in the morning. One can also head to Bikaram Chamdmal (a short walk from Chotu Motu Joshi) if you're up for a rasgulla trail in Bikaner!