Last Updated: September 26, 2019 Nidhi Singh
As you take the winding road up your favourite hill station in Uttarakhand, you are greeted with different aromas coming from the forests and the roadside eateries. And when you start to smell food close, I am sure your stomach starts to growl just like mine but instead of choosing anything native we settle for something which is known to us. Food, wherever you go makes an essential part of your trip and if we speak specifically of Uttarakhand, we might have to stop and think how much time we invested in trying out the local food instead of the sightseeing. The truth is, we may know the furthest destination in their state but most of us are unaware what these beautiful red-cheek people eat! So, for the love of Uttarakhand, let me take you on a small journey through the cuisine of this state, which is as lovely as its destinations and as simple as its people.
Gahat ke Parathe
This dish comes right from the kitchen of Uttarakhand. Prepared by stuffing Gahat Dal(a special brown lentil) in the wheat and mandua flour (Finger Millet/Ragi), Gahat ke Paranthe make excellent breakfast option in Uttarakhand. They can be served with the famed Bhang ki Chutney or any regular veg recipe.
Bhang Ki Chutney
Now this one is a real scene stealer when it comes to enhancing the taste of the cuisine of Uttarakhand. The fresh aroma and the tangy tamarind taste can stay on your tongue for quite a long time. Made from Hemp Seeds that has an irresistible aroma; cumin seeds, garlic leaves; tamarind and salt, this simple chutney compliments any dish made in Uttarakhand.
Aalu Ka Jhol
Here is an all time favourite for the people of Uttarakhand and you ask why, because it is simple to make and scrumptious to savour. The entire preparation takes less than 15 minutes, so it is one of those dishes that one can abide by when either too tired or lazy to cook. Just boil some potatoes, prepare a simple onion and tomato curry and leave the potatoes in it to cook over slow fire and the result is well… surprising!
It is a dish that almost all Pahadis swear by in Uttarakhand. Well, if you ask me, I can have this every single day without complaining… it is that exotic! Made from spinach and fenugreek leafs and cooked in an iron kadhai, kafuli is complimented by hot steaming rice. The gravy for this dish is prepared by adding rice or wheat flour paste along with water. The taste is further enhanced by slow fire cooking. I am sure Popeye too would have loved this recipe!
This one is a complex dish as it requires more efforts than other dishes in Uttarakhand. Phanoo is basically a preparation made by mixing different lentils (including the special Gahat) that are soaked in water overnight. It is basically a soupy dish that goes best with steaming white rice. Phaanu is an excellent lunch option especially in winter in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
Accompanying Phaanu is Baadi, which is made of Buck wheat flour (Mandua flour). It is a simple dish, yet it has a very nice taste. Its quick preparation and nutrients value makes it a popular food item in Garhwal region. Just boil water, add some buck wheat and ghee and there you have it, a yummilious preparation right from the kitchen of Garhwal.
High protein coming your way! Chainsoo, a popular dish from Garhwal is made of Urad or Kali Dal (whole), which is reckoned to consist of a lot of protein in it. Although, sometimes it is said that Chainsoo is hard to digest (due to high protein) but it certainly is worth trying. Offering a very earthy flavour, this dish is prepared by first roasting the lentil and then making a fine paste of it. The dal is kept for cooking in an iron kadhai over slow fire and Voila! You have some mouth watering food to eat!
This particular dish can be spotted at every festival, birthday, restaurant and house (with invited guests) in Kumaon region. Infact it will not be an exaggeration if it can be declared the regional food! Coupled with Pooris, Bhang ki Chutney and Kumaoni Raita, Aaloo Gutuk is a food for soul. Let me tell you this, each household in Kumaon has its own recipe for making Aaloo Gutuk and I have to confess that none of them fail. Basically prepared by boiled potatoes and garnished by red chillies and coriander, this dish in Kumaon is a must try.
Like Bhang ki Chutney, Kumaoni Raita accompanies just about everything in the Kumaoni cuisine. Prepared from curd, turmeric, grated cucumber, green chillies and the mustard seeds, this side dish is the best invention after WHEEL! The taste of mustard lingers long on your tongue; whereas the goodness of curd and cucumber becomes an asset for your digestion system. Adding more taste to the raita is the coriander garnishing.
For those who have been to Uttarakhand, you very well know Sisun AKA Bichhu Ghas. Yes, the same BADASS plant that once touched can give you itch and rashes for couple of hours. And people from Uttarakhand associate this plant with childhood whipping (yes, we all had our moments!). But, what will fascinate you is the fact that Sisun is edible (I would like to call it vengeance… LOL). Infact, it makes a scrumptious main course dish. The plant is boiled and then converted into a fine pulp and then cooked over slow fire and later garnished with tomato and butter. Preparing it can be a difficult task but it sure is worth every effort.
High in protein, Rus/Thhatwani is another creation coming straight from Kumaon’s kitchen. Prepared by mixed lentils’ stock and rice paste, this delicacy is best served with steaming hot rice. Basically to prepare this dish, several lentils are boiled and later the lentils are separated from the stock. Fine rice paste is then added to the stock and it is served with rice. The remaining lentils are also served by throwing in a few powdered spices.
If I have to pick one dish from Uttarakhand that I can call best then it will be Dubuk. What makes me and couple of others a fan of this dish is its indescribable taste. Subtle in taste and good for stomach, Dubuk is best served with plain rice, Bhang ki Chutney and Muli thechwa (crushed raddish). The main ingredient of Dubuk is either Bhat ki Dal, Gahat ki Dal or Arhar ki Dal, which is converted into a fine paste and then cooked in an iron kadhai over slow fire. The taste ladies and gentlemen is unbeatable! The best time to eat Dubuk would be winter; however, if you are a Dubuk lover like me, you can have it any day of the year!
Those with sweet tooth are going to love this. Well, honestly this can be the Pahadi version of Pua (another sweet item made in many North Indian states). What makes Arsa different from Pua is the use of jaggery and curd in it. Once prepared these soft round balls can be munched during tea time or as a dessert after meals. These sweet balls seem to melt in mouth and the flavour of jaggery and curd is so prominent that once eaten, you wouldn’t forget the taste for long.
Coming to Kumaon and not tasting Singodi is a sin! This sweet made of Khoya (condensed milk) and then wrapped into the leaf of Molu is iconic. The fresh smell of Molu leaf and the taste of condensed milk flavoured with cardamom and coconut will leave you asking for more. Almora is the most famous place to try Singodi in Uttarakhand.
Jhangora Ki Kheer
Our Garhwal kitchen has a preparation for you too and it is called Jhangore ki Kheer. Jhangora is type of millet and is the main ingredient of this dessert item. This sweet dish of Uttarakhand has the goodness of milk, cashews and raisins. This particular dessert is known for its rich texture and a taste that one cannot easily forget. High in nutrients and taste this is a must try after a heavy course of Garhwali cuisine.
There are many other dishes that we may have missed in this list but we surely like to include those with your help. Write to us or simply comment below and let us know about more dishes from the palate of Uttarakhand and also if you liked this blog.
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Images Courtesy: Google, Jyotsana Joshi & Food.com.
Published: 12 Aug, 2015