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Review for "Cooking Delights of the Maharajas:Exotic Dishes From the Princely House of Sailana"

I was reading a book a few years ago that said food was different from one group or class to another. I didn’t realize it (even though it wasn’t fully described here) until I was actually reading the book entitled The Pleasures of Cooking the maharajas -Exotic dishes from the Prince’s House Sailana“. It is written by His Highness Shri Digvijaya Singh– from the palace of Sailana AND Sailana is a small town present in Madhya Pradesh. It was published in 1982 in India. It was published by Vakils, Feffer and Simons Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai. The price of the book is 400 rubles. The ISBN is 978-81-8462-026-9. The total number of pages is 198.

The moment I read the title of the book, I was very impressed for various reasons:

1. One can enjoy after reading the book and trying to cook the dishes mentioned in it.

2. The word “The the maharajas” meant more than one king. I assumed the recipes were different and passed down from generation to generation.

3. The dishes are exotic by nature.

4. Recipes will be from country i Sailana exclusively.

The cover page was adopted and depicted one of the well-known 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 picture shown on the third page exhibits different types of copper vessels used for cooking different dishes in the royal kitchens of the city. My attention was drawn to the beautiful rectangular box designed to hold all kinds of spices and powders. Now I can hardly find one in our country. I would love to have one of these in my possession and add beauty to my kitchen as well.

The author has dedicated the book to his father – the late Highness Raja Sir Dilip Singhji of Sailana. The seal of the royal family can be seen superimposed on the photograph of the author’s father. I had never seen one in my life! The author acknowledges other royal families present in India like Prince Shivaji Rao Holkar and Princess Shalini Devi Holkar of Indore. The foreword was written by none other than Her Majesty Gayatri Devi- Rajmata of Jaipur. According to her, the author is “not only a gourmet, but an excellent cook.” There are a large number of color photographs of various dishes cooked and presented for royal feasts.

The section on contents is given in detail and these are arranged as follows:

a) 54 recipes prepared using meat or mutton

b) 9 recipes prepared using chicken

c) 10 recipes prepared using fish

d) 8 recipes prepared from the meat of animals after their hunting

e) 21 recipes with different grains such as rice, millet, etc.

f) 50 recipes prepared from different types of vegetables

g) 12 types of sweet dishes

I liked the “Foreword” part of the book. The secrets of the royal families are given to the readers and the best ones are:

1. To Maharajas were connoisseurs of good food (mentioned in paragraph 2).

2. Beautiful kitchens and the best chefs are hired (mentioned in paragraph 2).

3. There is a special cook for each recipe (mentioned again in paragraph 2) (I was imagining the total number of cooks present in the royal kitchens. No wonder the royal families of Turkey had dedicated a huge palace to the cooks. and guide to intended for cooking, chopping vegetables, tasting, directing other cooks, measuring quantities, etc.).

4. It was a “status symbol” for kings to display “the most unusual type of dishes” for their guests.

5. The secrets of cooking different recipes were never shared by the cooks and were passed down from one generation to another (usually only from father to son).

6. Some of the exotic recipes and the process of cooking exotic dishes are lost because they were not passed down from one to another.

7. The author gives credit to his father for collecting the recipes of the last 100 years. He collected them from various cooks present all over the country and had ancient recipe books in different languages ​​like Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian. He translated some of them.

8. Cooking is not an art however it is a scientific process.

9. The differences present in the various types of spicy powders or masalas are due to the amount used in their preparation in the kitchens.

10. The author has tried to share some of the recipes only with his readers (I don’t know about other recipes and when they would be shared with us).

In the section on “Helpful Tips”, the author discusses the following points:

a. It explicitly denies the use of stainless steel and aluminum utensils for cooking purposes. They were only used for boiling things (Oh! God, we use these metal cookware in modern times).

b. The different types of vessels used are –

dekhçi-type of vessel used for cooking meat

tape– wide vessel used for cooking and boiling rice and curry

kadhai– Deep and large pan.

Pressure cooker – for preparing dishes from lentils, rice and for tenderizing tough meats such as trotters

c. The differences between

i)Bhunao is the process of cooking ground spices with a little oil, at high temperatures, and adding small amounts of water after a few minutes.

ii) Baghar meaning seasoning or seasoning

iii) Dhugar means smoking technique

iv) Dum it means cooking on low flame and the vessel is covered with a lid and sealed with dough

c) The horse is a curry prepared with water or milk

vi) Corma is a curry prepared with ghee or oil

vii)”do piazza” means cooking with some vegetables such as cauliflower, peas, potatoes, etc.

d) Details regarding the quantities used for the preparation of pastes, spices or for improving the taste of a certain dish are discussed.

The weak points of the book are:

a) Recipes are not exclusively from Sailana alone.

b) The author also mentions other recipes from other regions like Rajasthan, Bhopal, Delhi, Jhabua, Kashmir, Persia, Nepal, Hyderabad, etc. There are 24 in number.

c) Common recipes for dishes prepared from the meat of hunted animals are limited to rabbits and wild boars. During those days, animal hunting was not limited to these animals only. Recipes for other dishes are not mentioned in the book.

d) There are other exotic dishes from other royal families across India. Why were they not mentioned? I am wondering about other dishes from the royal kitchens of Lucknow, Gujarat, Jammu, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Bengal which are worth mentioning in the book (may be in the footnotes).

e) Sections on recipes for meals, salads, chutneys, curd preparations, pickles and soups are missing from the book. In addition, there are different dishes prepared separately in each season. This is not mentioned anywhere in the book.

f) Three to four plates are placed in the picture and clicked together in the book. This was really not good. The colors of the plate depict blur and not very appealing to the eyes.

The great points to note in the book are:

a) Sections are divided according to topics and subtopics in the book.

b) Small details for the preparation of the dish are noted in the recipes.

c) Meanings of some words have been given by the author.

d) Pictures are given in good number in the book (though not to the point).

e) Some of the rare recipes are shared in the book such as mutton ke dahi badas (mutton dumplings placed in curd), porridge prepared with garlic, etc.

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