Cooking like a maharaja

Maharaja Vikram Singh is proud to belong to a dynasty where kings were hands-on in the kitchen.

The royal family of Sailana is a branch of the Rathore house, cadets of the Royal House of Jodhpur. The state owes its origins to the jagir created for Raja Jai Singh, the great-grandson of Ratan Singh of Ratlam, in 1716. He subsequently annexed further territories in the region and established himself as an independent ruler in 1731. Sailana was made the capital of the Sailana State in 1736, a princely state during the British Raj. In 1867, the principality ranked as an eleven-gun state.

Sailana cuisine

In the days of the Raj, the Sailana dynasty was famous for its hospitality, cuisine and wine. The culinary culture dates back to three generations of master culinary expert Raja Sir Dilip Singh who passed on his legacy to his son Raja Sir Digivijay Singh, whose legacy has now been passed to Raja Vikram Singh.

Royal tradition

Unlike other royal houses, Sailana is unusual, as the maharajas did not leave it to their cooks to come up with dishes, to be served at banquets, but actually cooked themselves. Cooking started as a hobby for the late Maharaja Dilip Singh of Sailana who went on to start a a whole gharana of cooking.

It soon became a passion with the rulers of Sailana. Over the years, the recipes were collected and evolved, improvised with zest. Some of the recipes date back to Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. These recipes were translated from Urdu and Sanskrit scripts. There were recipes that were picked and improvised by everyone from the royalty to banjaras.

The chests of recipes were a closely guarded secret. Not even the daughters of the house had access to them. Not until late Maharaja Digvijay Singh, son of Maharaja Dilip Singh, decided to share the treasure trove with the world, in the form of his book, The cooking delights of the Maharajas in 1983. Ever since, Sailana recipes started appearing on menus all over India and home cooks started treating the book as their Bible.

Hare Chane ka Halwa

Fresh green grams ½ kg
Ghee 175 gm
Wheat flour 60 gm
Milk 2 cups
Sugar 150 gm

Boil green grams in about two cups of water. When tender, dry up the water and grind the grams very finely.
In a kadhai, heat ghee. Add wheat flour and sauté till golden colour. Add grams and cook on low fire, stirring regularly.
When the mixture stops sticking at the bottom of the kadhai, add milk and stir.
When milk dries up, add sugar. When thick and begins to come off the sides of the kadhai, remove from fire.

Makki Ki Firni

Fresh corn kernels, grated
½ corn cob
Sugar 250 gm
Cream 115 gm
Cardamom seeds 1½ gm
Milk 2 cups

Grate corn kernels and grind them finely. Add milk, sugar and cardamoms.
Strain through a muslin cloth. Cook on low fire stirring constantly. When thick, remove from fire and cool it. Add cream and serve cold.


Machchhi ke kabab


Fish pieces 1 kg
Mustard, ground with water 3 gm
Salt 9 gm
Red chillies, powdered, 9 gm
Ginger, scraped and ground, 12 gm
Garlic, ground 12 gm
Cumin seeds, powdered 3 gm
Peppercorns, powdered 20
Cloves, powdered 5
Fresh mint leaves ground 3 gm
Egg 1
Onions, evenly sliced 60 gm
Mustard oil 115 ml

Skin the fish, remove bones and cut into pieces. Put it in a colander or sieve. Place it on a utensil containing so much water that it should not come upto the level of colander for atleast 25-30 minutes. This is done to make the fish tender. Remove and mash it thoroughly with hands.
Add mustard, salt, red chillies, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, mint leaves and eggs and mix well.
Heat some mustard oil and fry onions till golden brown. Remove and add to the fish.
Divide into 12 equal parts; flatten while wetting hands with little water to give the kababs a smooth and even shape. In the same oil, fry kababs on low heat till well browned.

Note: Grind mustard with water and mix it with salt. Keep it for 12 hours before cooking.

Machchhi ke kabab

Machchhi ke kabab

Murgh Musallam Do Rukha Seekh Par

Tender chicken whole weighing 500 gm, dressed and skinned 1
Raw papaya peeled and finely ground, enough to cover the whole chicken
Finely minced lean mutton 115 gm
Ghee 30 gm
Curd 30 gm
Red chillies, powdered 6 gm
Salt 6 gm
Coriander seeds, powdered 3 gm
Cumin seeds 1½ gm
Onions, ground 15 gm
Garlic, ground 6 gm
Garam masala powder 1 tbsp
Fresh lime juice 2 tbsp
Hard boiled eggs, shelled and coarsely chopped 4
Almonds, blanched and coarsely chopped 15 gm
Raisins, coarsely chopped 15 gm
Coconut, grated 15 gm
Green chillies, finely chopped with seeds 25 gm
Ginger, scraped and finely chopped 6 gm
Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Onions, finely and evenly sliced 60 gm
Curd 115 gm
Parched yellow grams, powdered 25 gm
Salt 6 gm

Murgh Musallam Do Rukha Seekh Par

Murgh Musallam Do Rukha Seekh Par

Goolar kabab

Goolar is the Indian wild fig. As the name suggests, these kebabs resemble the goolar fruit.

Minced lean mutton from leg or shoulder (keema) 1 kg
Split gram (chana dal) 115 gm
Salt 12 gm
Red chillies, powdered 3 gm
Onions, ground 30 gm
Ginger, scraped and ground 6 gm
Curd 60 gm
Garam masala powder 6 gm
Onions, finely chopped 60 gm
Green chillies, finely chopped with seeds 12 gm
Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped 6 gm
Lime juice or vinegar 1 tsp
Egg, lightly beaten 1
Poppy seeds whole, for coating
Ghee for frying

Boil the minced meat along with split gram, salt, red chillies, onions and ginger in eight cups of water for an hour. When meat is tender, dry the liquids completely. Grind it very finely. Add curd and garam masala powder and mix and knead well. Divide into 20 equal parts. For stuffing, mix chopped onions, green chillies, mint leaves and lime juice and divide into 20 equal parts.

Flatten each part of the meat and place one part of the stuffing in its centre and shape it into a ball, with slightly wet hands to give kebabs a smooth and even shape. Dip the kebabs into the beaten egg and roll in poppy seeds to give an even coating. Heat ghee in a frying pan and deep fry the kebabs, 6-7 at a time, on medium heat till golden brown.

Biryani Rashmi

Not only were the masalas chosen with great care but even the names of the recipes were either inspired by appearance, taste or ingredients. Rashmi means ‘soft and silky.’ When this dish was perfected and served in one of the banquets, the guests remarked, “Wah kitni rashmi hai”. Thus, the biryani got its name ‘Rashmi’ biryani.

Mutton pieces 1 kg
Basmati rice 1½ kg
Ghee 250 gm
Curd 350 gm
Salt 25 gm
Red chillies, powdered 6 gm
Ginger, scraped and ground 25 gm
Asafoetida (hing) the size of peppercorn diluted in water
Coriander seeds, powdered 25 gm
Punjabi badi, powdered 12 gm
Cumin seeds, powdered 1½ gm
Black cumin seeds, powdered 1½ gm
Cloves, powdered 1½ gm
Black cardamom powder 1½ gm
A pinch of saffron diluted in warm water
Kewada water 6 tsp
Milk 2 cups


Heat ghee in a kadhai. Add meat along with curd, salt, red chillies, ginger and asafoetida. When liquids dry up, lightly brown the meat.
Add the remaining ingredients, except rice, and let it simmer on low heat till water dries up completely and only ghee remains.
Wash and soak the rice in deep water for an hour. Boil it in water with salt. When cooked, drain in a sieve or colander. Spread it in a wide dish and allow it to cool. Divide the cooked rice in four parts. Grease the bottom and the sides of a heavy bottomed pan with ghee. Spread one part of rice evenly. Add kewada water to the milk and sprinkle it over the rice. Spread half of the meat over the rice. Cover it with two more parts of rice and spread the remaining meat and rice similarly.
Cover the pan and put it on medium fire to form steam. As soon as steam rises, put on dum cooking for half an hour. Serve hot.

Biryani Rashmi

Biryani Rashmi

Murgh Mumtaz Mahal

Whenever a new recipe came into existence, a name was selected. Everyone present during the cooking session was asked to comment on the dish and suggest a name. Someone suggested Mumtaz Mahal because she being a symbol of love, this dish was created out of love for cooking.

Chicken, large pieces ½ kg
Ghee 150 gm
Onions, thinly and evenly sliced 60 gm
Ginger, scraped and shredded 12 gm
Khoa 25 gm
Red chillies, powdered 6 gm
Coriander seeds, powdered 6 gm
Cumin seeds whole 3 gm
Salt 12 gm
Curd 115 gm
Cashew nuts, ground with water 25 gm
l Cardamom seeds,
powdered 1½ gm
Kewada water 3 tsp
Lime juice 3 tsp
A pinch of saffron, diluted in warm water

Remove the skin of the chicken. Cut out the oil sac (that little protuberance at the tip of tail), wash and cut it into pieces. Nicely prick the pieces.
Heat ghee and fry sliced onions till golden brown. Crush coarsely and keep aside. In the same ghee, fry shredded ginger till golden brown. Crush coarsely and keep aside.
In the same ghee, add chicken pieces along with khoa, red chillies, coriander seeds and cumin. Add enough water to cook the chicken.
When half cooked, add salt and curd. When tender, add the remaining ingredients. Keep cooking on slow heat till only ghee remains. Add fried onions and ginger.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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