“The mystique connected with the maharajas in present day India, and living in palaces turned hotels, is reflected in their lifestyles – food, drink and entertainment. Unlike other royal houses, SAILANA is unusual, as the Maharajas here, did not leave it to their cooks to come up with dishes, to be served at banquets, but actually cooked themselves. (The princely state of Sailana lies in the confines of the Malwa plateau of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and in the days of the British Raj, it was known for its warm hospitality, wine, cactus gardens and most importantly its cuisine.)
Cooking started as a hobby with my grandfather, the late Maharaja Dalip Singh ji and from this initial resolve rose a whole school of cooking which soon became a passion with the descendants who followed. Recipes were collected, evolved and improvised with great zeal. Infact some of our recipes date back to the period of rule of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
The chests of Sailana recipes were always a closely guarded secret, so much so, that even our daughters had no access to them. It was only when my father late Maharaja Digvijay Singh ji decided to share the treasure with the world that this secret was out in the form of his book, ‘The Cooking Delights of the Maharajas’, which took shape in 1983 and thereafter printed 17 times, with recipes appearing in menus all over India.
Growing up in a family so deeply involved in the art of cooking, it was but natural for me to develop interest in this traditional culinary art where my holidays from school were spent being a part of the cooking parties, held with the connoisseurs and friends interested in food and cooking.
I and my wife Maharaj kumara Chandra Kumari of Jaisalmer, the eldest daughter of Maharawal Raghunath Sigh ji of Jaisalmer are blessed with three daughters and one son- Tikkarani Shailja Katoch, Kuwarani Smriti Kumari Shah, Rajkumari Shivani Kumari and Yuvraj Divyraj Singh of Sailana.
My daughter Tikkarani Shailja Katoch and her husband Tikaraj Aishwarya Chand Katoch coaxed me into having a food festival at our heritage property Surajgarh in Shekhawati and here I was for the first time cooking for other than family. Thus began the culinary journey of Sailana food festivals that keep the legacy of the royal kitchens alive.
Sailana is a treasure trove of recipes laced with exotic spices, rose petals and sandalwood powder, a world of secret recipes over a century old; and where there’s a story behind every dish. Most of these recipes do not use tomatoes, as they were introduced in India much later. I bring to you one such recipe that will give you a glimpse into the cuisine of Sailana -Jangli Mans, created for a stranded hunter. An unfortunate incident spurred my grandfather Maharaja Dilip Singh, the ruler of Sailana in 1890 to learn how to cook when he was stranded with his guests upon losing their way on a shikaar expedition in 1890. Without a cook, he realised the importance of knowing how to cook – thus emerged the recipe-Janglii mans.
I also take this opportunity to invite you to come and experience firsthand the recipes from our kitchen, and share stories with my family over dinner.”