There is a saying in Rajasthan, that you don’t relish your food until you perspire whilst eating it.

Rarely has the world seen so rich a cuisine, created from so little that was available from the land that is the desert of Rajasthan. Yet, its people have lived and eaten over generations, creating an exotic cuisine from a soil that brought forth pulses, millets and trees with beans that were dried and stored for use in the summers, when nothing would grow.

An amalgamation of tribes and sects, the Rajput warrior was not averse to shikaar or killing game for a meal at the end of the day. The Vaishnavs, followers of Krishna, were strict vegetarians as were the Bishnois, a community known for its passion for conserving animal and plant life. The Marwaris of Shekhawati chose a richer method of preparation for their vegetarian cuisine, while the Jains, were vegetarians who did not eat after sunset, and whose food was devoid of garlic and onions.

Influenced by both the lifestyles of its citizens and the handiness of the ingredients available, the preferred food was that which could last for several days and be consumed without reheating. The lack of fresh green vegetables and water led to innovative techniques - ghee (clarified butter) and milk replaced water, and beans, dried lentils and legumes like gram flour, bajra and jowar became staple ingredients.

An interesting pot to choose from and dip into, experience the flavours of Rajasthani cuisine as you savour the sumptuous spread presented by Chef Akshraj at ITC Grand Central from July 9-18.