FROM THE ROYAL COOKBOOK
Travel+Leisure India|January 2021
Rewa in Madhya Pradesh used to be a hunting ground for maharajas, but few were privy to its recipes involving game meat. As the royal cuisine adapts to the times, GEETIKA SACHDEV samples its flavourful offerings.
GEETIKA SACHDEV

MADHYA PRADESH IS A treasure trove of stories, and if you dig deep enough, you might find previously untold tales of its rich history. Rewa, a city in the northwestern part of the state, is one such chapter. On the surface it might resemble any other hotbed of industrialisation, but its heart overflows with myriad legends.

The kingdom of Rewa was the home of the blue-blooded Baghels, descendants of the Solanki clan, who ruled Gujarat from the 10th to the 13th century. A string of rajas and maharajas ruled this erstwhile princely state, the last being Maharaja Martand Singh Ju Deo, who was most famously known for capturing Mohan, the white tiger.

In fact, the now-popular Bandhavgarh forest once served as the private hunting ground of the royals of Rewa. They would organise shikar, and the men would match their wits and courage with that of their quarry. After striking down their targets, the royals would boast about their records over slow-cooked game dishes prepared by their khansamas (royal cooks). It was this tradition of feasting and feeding others that gave birth to the glorious culinary heritage of Rewa. Maharaja Pushpraj Singh, the royal scion of Rewa says, “Earlier, the royal dishes were mostly nonvegetarian and revolved around game meat. So, an alternative was needed in this day and age. But the spices, style of cooking, and herbs used have been retained. Such delicacies are best served when their original flavour and style are not compromised.”

FROM SOIL TO STOMACH

The region of Baghelkhand, where Rewa sits, is a fertile and arable land, crisscrossed with rivers Son and Tons as well as their tributaries. This supports the growth of a variety of cereals, dals, and leafy vegetables that form an indispensable part of Bagheli cuisine.

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