Review for "Culinary Delights of the Maharajas: Exotic Dishes from the Princely House of Sailana"
I was reading a book, a few years ago, in which it was mentioned that food was different from one group or class to another. I didn’t understand it (although it wasn’t fully described here as well) until the moment I was actually reading the book titled “Cooking Delights of the Maharajas -Exotic dishes from the Princely House of Sailana“It was written by His Highness Shri Digvijaya Singh-from the palace of Sailana and Sailana is a small city present in Madhya pradesh. It was published in the year 1982 in India. It was published by Vakils, Feffer and Simons Pvt. Ltd, Bombay. The price of the book is 400 rupees. The ISBN is 978-81-8462-026-9. The total number of pages is 198.
By the time I read the title of the book, I was really impressed for several reasons:
1. One can be delighted after reading the book and trying to cook the dishes mentioned in it.
2. The word “The Maharajas“It meant more than one king. I assumed the recipes were different and passed from one generation to the next.
3. The dishes are exotic by nature.
4. The recipes will be from the land of Sailana exclusively.
The cover was adopted and depicted one of the popular paintings of the royal family of Sailana (although it is not mentioned anywhere in the book). The back of the book gives us the details of the author and his qualities and abilities. The 15th edition of the book was published in 2015. The photograph on the 3rd page shows different types of copper pots used to cook various dishes in the royal kitchens of the city. My attention focused on the beautiful rectangular box intended to hold all kinds of spices and powders. Now I hardly find one available in our country. I wish I had one of them in my possession and add beauty to my kitchen too.
The author has dedicated the book to his father, Late Highness. Raja Sir Dilip Singhji of Sailana. You can see the seal of the royal family placed over the photograph of the author’s father. I’ve never seen one in my life! The author recognizes other royal families present in India such as Prince Shivaji Rao Holkar and Princess Shalini Devi Holkar of Indore. The foreword has been written by none other than the late Her Highness Gayatri Devi- Rajmata of Jaipur. According to her, the author is “not only a gourmet, but an excellent cook.” There are a good number of color photographs of various dishes cooked and presented for the royal festivals.
The content section is given in detail and these are listed as follows:
a) 54 recipes made with meat or lamb
b) 9 recipes prepared with chicken
c) 10 recipes prepared with fish
d) 8 recipes made with animal meat after hunting them
e) 21 recipes with different grains such as rice, millet, etc.
f) 50 recipes prepared from various types of vegetables
g) 12 varieties of sweet dishes
I liked the “Preface” section of the book. The secrets of the royal families are given to the readers and the best ones are:
1. The Maharajas They were connoisseurs of good food (mentioned in the second paragraph).
2. Fine cooks and better cooks are hired (mentioned in the 2nd paragraph).
3. There is a separate cook for each recipe (again mentioned in the second paragraph) (I was imagining the total number of cooks present in the royal kitchens. No wonder the royal families of Turkey have dedicated a grand palace to cooks and guides for cooking, chopping vegetables, tasting, orienting other cooks, measuring quantities, etc.).
4. It was the “status symbol” for kings to show “the most unusual kinds of dishes” to their guests.
5. The secrets of cooking various recipes were never shared by cooks and were passed down from one generation to the next (usually only from father to son).
6. Some of the exotic recipes and the process of cooking exotic dishes are lost as they were not passed from one person to another.
7. The author credits his father for compiling the recipes from the last 100 years. He collected them from various cooks present across the country and had old recipe books in different languages like Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian. He translated some of them.
8. Cooking is not an art, but it is a scientific process.
9. The differences present in the different types of spicy powders or masalas are due to the amount used in their preparation in the kitchens.
10. The author has taken the trouble to share some of the recipes only with his readers (I don’t know about the other recipes and when they would be shared with us).
In the “Helpful Tips” section, the author discusses the following points:
to. He explicitly denies the use of stainless steel and aluminum pots for cooking. They were used just to boil things (oh my gosh, we used these metal utensils for cooking in contemporary times).
B. The different types of utensils used are:
dekhchi– type of pot utensil used to cook meats
tapeli-Ample utensil used to cook and boil rice and curry
kadhai-Large deep frying pan.
Pressure cookers: to prepare dishes based on lentils, rice and to tenderize hard meats such as trotters.
vs. Differences between
I)bhunao is the process of cooking ground spices in a small amount of oil, at high temperatures and adding small amounts of water after a few minutes
ii) Baghar that is, temper or season
iii) Dhugar means technical tuxedo
iv) Dum means to cook over low heat and the utensil is covered with a lid and sealed with batter
v) Kalia is a curry prepared with water or milk
saw) Korma It is a curry prepared with butter or oil
vii) “make pyaza “ means cooking with some vegetables like cauliflower, peas, potato, etc.
d) Details were discussed regarding the amounts used to prepare pasta, condiments or to enhance the flavor of a particular dish.
The weak points of the book are:
a) The recipes are not exclusively for Sailana only.
b) The author mentions other recipes from other regions as well such as Rajasthan, Bhopal, Delhi, Jhabua, Kashmir, Persia, Nepal, Hyderabad, etc. There are 24 in total.
c) Shared recipes for dishes made with meat from hunted animals are limited to rabbits and wild boar. During those days, the hunting of animals was not limited only to these animals. Recipes for other dishes are not mentioned in the book.
d) There are other exotic dishes from other royal families of India. Why weren’t they mentioned? I wonder about other dishes from the royal cuisines of Lucknow, Gujarat, Jammu, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Bengal that are worth mentioning in the book (they may be in the footnotes).
e) The sections on recipes for snacks, salads, chutneys, the book is missing curd preparations, pickles and soups. Apart from this, there are several dishes prepared separately in each season. This is not mentioned anywhere in the book.
f) In the photographs, three to four plates are placed and the book is clicked together. This was not really good. The colors of the plate represent hazy and not very attractive to the eye.
The excellent points to highlight in the book are:
a) The sections are divided according to the themes and sub-themes of the book.
b) Minutes details about the preparation of the dish have been noted in the recipes.
c) The meanings of certain words have been given by the author.
d) Photographs are given in good numbers in the book (although not up to the mark).
e) Some of the rare recipes are shared in the book as lamb ke dahi badas (lamb meatballs placed in the curd), porridge prepared with garlic, etc.