Gilded goodness of Rajasthan’s royal dessert


What does it take for a dessert to classify as sumptuous and sinful indeed in all its circling along the routes of a royal land through its exquisite course in history? Exotic perhaps a list of ingredients one would say. Or at least such specialty of it that arises out of a fascinating lineage in origin, with such deep roots in its emergence from the heritage hive that makes it somewhat of a taste to relish in all nostalgia, if not in gastronomy. Catering to neither such dominion of the expectations in exactness but yet managing to eke out a special place of its own sugary sheen and in such measures of it as well that makes it one of the most special of sweet dishes that the whole of a India crazy already for its many a mithais readily gorges upon is the aesthetically appealing disc of saccharine succour that goes by the name of ghevar.

A traditional Rajasthani sweet, hailing from its pink city of Jaipur in more precision, is this royal indeed bite into heaven entailing out of what is the concoction of just a couple some elements of extreme humbleness. In its divine indeed essence, it’s almost astonishing that ghevar is a delicacy springing of rather simple premises. Made from a batter of refined flour and ghee that which is then deep fried in copious again amounts of ghee in a certain precise technique in a special skittle before the disc like product finds a more than generous dip or douse of sugar syrup is the immensely delicious ghevar that seems to command a distinguished indeed fame with no particular remarkability as such. It however is in its honeycomb like pattern of therefore a porous texture and authentically seasonal reputation that the ghevar goes on to chart out much more fame than what one untasting yet of this grand gamble of gastronomy would never been able to make sense of. All the fuss that ghevars galore manage to garner in all their particular predominance during certain times of the year rest upon their technique of preparation that demands more than deft ‘handling’ of them in exact precision and in tremendous attention to their delicate trails of some of the most satiated levels of sugar rush that they would lead one to experience. Loaded indeed with sweetness and calories, courtesy their rather sugar stuffed essence combined of course with their indispensable residing in litres of ghee and amped further with such even exquisite enhancements of malai or cream making for one of the most toothsome of their offering ever is the ghevar grandeur that is unlike any other classicly Indian sweet aka the colloquial confection of the mithaai ever encountered.

Honeysweet indeed in the essential encompassment of what identifies as its flavour across a texture that is also as evocative of the honeyed reference in its comb like assertion out of its making in the ‘high art’ of pouring the batter in ghee, repeatedly at regular intervals of time as per the confectioner’s judgement catering to every intricate ‘crafting’ of what is very much a fine specimen of not just taste but also construction is the ghevar that isn’t just a slice of sweetness to partake of despite all its steeping in each of the most worthwhile explorations of taste. Continuing with the honey assertion that we so attempted to poetically invoke prettier even an image of this royal sweet, at least in its hailing from the royal land even if not exclusively concerned with regal origins but inarguably grand still in taste, is such essence of the ghevar that makes it a seasonal delight, an exclusive specialty of a time defined enough in its availability that is what makes it even more desired a serving of unparalleled charms. Resident in ‘dewy’ decadence, of such lightness that defies its surprisingly extreme steepness in the favorite Indian pairing of ghee and sugar, the ghevar relies also as much in the dewy essence of nature to present itself as the delicate mound of decadence that it is.

A traditional staple of the many a Sawan festivals of Raksha Bandhan and Teej, ghevars are some of the most remarkable arrays of nature’s many a resplendencies in spirit and sense. And this monsoon magic that ghevar finds expression as isn’t something derived from such essential elements of the ingredients that are as basic as can be. It instead is the moisture in the rain laden atmosphere of that particular time of the year that makes it conducive for this beauty to achieve perfection in both taste and texture. Of course, the irresistible deliciousness that it is so sought out for means that today ghevar is not limited to being a season specific delight, available instead just about anytime of the year to deliver that striking zest of heartiness from across the already stuffed desi sweet platter. But tradition being so much of a factor in tickling the taste buds, it still is the magic of the rains working into these discs of saccharine substance that elevates their experience to being divinesome dwellings in decadence.

And yet, it isn’t just the considerations of worldly taste and culinary pleasure that makes ghevar a monsoon mainstay. Sawan being the month of Lord Shiva as per Hindu mythology and Teej being the festival that celebrates his union with Goddess Parvati, it is no wonder that ghevar makes for auspicious showers of blessing gifted by parents and in laws to married women as part of the custom of Sinjhara. This token of immense sweetness is also exchanged between brothers and sisters during the occasion of Raksha Bandhan even as other ‘off seasonal’ preparations of the ghevar remain rooted in as much religious and cultural significance. The springtime Gangaur festival for instance, celebrating also of the Siva- Parvati union sees the ghevar dipping in all its sweet essence manifest once again its grandeur along the gastronomic realm even as they also sweeten further the offerings specific to the mid winter celebration of Makar Sankranti. Not just in religious exploration though, even as a rather rich sweet ghevar makes also for potent enough doses that act as a succour indeed for the body as it does to the mind. Particularly during the rainy season, when ghevars are the most exuberant in all their encompassment of taste arising as an effect of the absorbed moisture, these jaalis hinging on the heavenly heaves of ghee and sugar surprisingly provides relief from the potent acidity of the moist environment. Affording therefore a connotation of calm upon the body and the mind are these somewhat soft and tending to be spongy reiterations of a dessert otherwise rendered all crisp and crumbly in their simmering sensations into piping hot oil or ghee, as a dive into decadence that is indeed so fulfilling to the soul.

In all its catering to a myriad of such life aspects that concern its dive into religion and spirituality as effectively as it does in regards to being an immersion of intoxicating intensities in indulgence, this versatile indeed profusion in sweetness has to be one of the most intriguing of epicurean experiences to partake of. Of its own distinct identity eked out within the melange of sweets that sum up the Indian palate in all essence is the ghevar residing in the definite real Rajasthani charms but that which is also as native a popular partaking in taste across the states of Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat, western Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh while emerging to be a pan Indian phenomenon in all its glorious treading into the treacle of taste. Equally inclusive of preferences is this rich rendition in all things remarkable with such interpretations of it that range from the plain sugar syrup dipped disc to more fancied assertions like a paneer or a milk ghevar to extravagant indeed indulgences of what sweetens up further the experience with thick toppings of malai or rabdi or mawa even as sprinkling of dried fruits and nuts and garnishing of silver warq only does further to enhance its already irresistible appeal even in all humility. The aroma and flavour can be even made to be wafting indeed of such exotic essence like the fragrant allure of saffron or the pleasant musings of some cardamom, making the ghevar a sweet delight even more appeasing of the senses.

The appeasement though of the ardent swearers of history is a matter more contentious with such claims of this dessert being instead an import from Persia held widely plausible despite no evidence existing yet as credible enough to establish the same. And while that is a theory that alludes the ghevar making inroads into India along with the Mughals or perhaps brought into the country by artisans of the Middle East, more ‘internal’ attributes of its beginnings are sought to be linked instead with the state of Uttar Pradesh. Despite all such ambiguity residing within its many a pores of fascinating detail, it still is the royal scoutings of Rajasthan that is believed to have enriched the desi platter with this extraordinarily unique sweetmeat and went on so far as to effectively capture the global gastronomic imagination as well.

Source: NDTV Food

For indeed, in all its golden glowing hue and lavish lusciousness oozing with the sticky syrups of sugary sinfulness, the ghevar is no less a ambrosial a dish in and by itself despite its specific listing as ‘only’ a dessert. Come the season of the rains or the chilling thrill of the winters and it isn’t just the bounty of nature spinning tales of magic into the Indian existence. As mounds and mounds of this standout jhali sight present a visage of itself, let to drip off the excess syrup soaking this seasonal specialty by methodically hanging on racks and grills but retaining still more than enough sweetness within its often round, sometimes hexagonal but striking still serving of absolute scrumptiousness, what unfolds is a tale that speaks not just of an entire nation’s fancying of the sweetest stuffs ever on offer but also translates into an existence with sweetness seeping indeed into every inch of its nature, so abundantly partaking as they are of those tonnes of sweetness in all good cheer.