Uttarakhand, known as the ‘’Land of Gods’’ and famous for its natural beauty and revered pilgrimage sites, is also known for its nutritious yet delicious cuisine. After having my stint with the exotic flavours of this lovely state, I realized that the tempting yet uncomplicated cuisine of Uttarakhand is a reflection of its people and culture. The food in Kumaon as well as Garhwal region is fresh, simple, unpretentious yet high in nutrition, energy and taste. Use of dairy products and milk is limited in pahari cuisine. However, coarse grains like mandua, pulses which are high in protein and fresh produce form the main ingredients of local cuisine so as to meet the high-energy needs of harsh climes. The amazing and unique taste of the food is due to its desi ghee or mustard oil preparation. Cooking on wood or charcoal gives the lovely earthen flavour.
If you are a food lover and love exploring new cuisines, then the delicacies of this beautiful mountain state needs your immediate attention. From Ras prepared from a variety of lentils to Bhang ki Sabzi to the mouth-watering sweet Bal-mithai, there is something to tantalize everyone’s taste buds. City life has kept us away from natural flavours for long; it’s time we explore and relish them. Whether you are going on a relaxing holiday or trekking your way up to the mountains, the food is surely going to take you through your journey and keep you up and going throughout.
A few simple yet appetising dishes are:
- Chainsoo: It is a highly nutritious dish prepared from black dal (may also be prepared from black bhat).
- Phanoo: Another tempting daal delicacy, Phanoo is a little different from Chainsoo, as the daals are soaked for few hours before preparing it. Green moong, arhar, chana etc. may be used for the preparation of this daal.
- Kafuli: If you are health conscious, then you are going to love this dish prepared from green leafy veggies. Thick gravy of dal often cooked with spinach is high in taste and nourishes you keeping you healthy and fit.
- Baadi: An exquisite dish prepared from a mixture of chana, moong and toor dal will leave you wanting for more. If you are bored of the usual dal preparations, this one will come as a fresh change from the mundane. Bhang seeds or sesame seeds may be added to make it more delicious.
- Arsa: The divine taste and low calorie value of this sweet dish will leave you wanting for more. Prepared with rice, jaggery and mustard oil, this sweet is a permanent part of any pahari celebration. Since the use of sugar has been substituted with jaggery and ghee with mustard oil, it is a healthy alternative to high-calorie sweets consumed by us. Do not forget to take it with your loved ones.
- Gulgula: Popular amongst tourists and visitors, this sweet preparation has jaggery and wheat flour as its main ingredients. You will love the distinct taste of this local snack item made from easily available ingredients of the area.
- Palau: Exclusive to the state, this dish is hardly prepared anywhere else. Made from jhangora, a cereal found exclusive in Uttarakhand, this exclusive sweet and salty preparation is a must-have while visiting the state.
- Mandua ki Roti: Roti prepared from mandua, a type of grain is a characteristic of this State. The chapatti made from Mandua is known to be good for digestion and represents the local cuisine served there.
So, get set for your next culinary sojourn to the lovely state of Uttarakhand and explore the unique cuisines sourced and prepared directly from nature’s basket.