Uttarakhand is called Devbhumi or Land of the Gods well known for many temples with captivating history. One of the most beautiful and famous tourist states, it has two main regions – Kumaon and Garhwal. Kumaon region is spread out to the eastern half of the state and includes places like Nainital, Ranikhet, Almora, Pithoragarh, and Jageshwar. In this post, we introduce you to the popular Kumaon cuisine delicacies.
Garhwal is the western region of Uttarakhand and includes places like Kedarnath, Dehradun, Chamoli, and others. Both regions are quite different and have their own history. The cuisine of both regions provides you with numerous delicious mouth-watering and very homely delicacies.
Delicacies of Kumaon Cuisine
All the recipes of these Kumaon cuisine dishes are very easy to make. These dishes come with lots of nutrients and energy which is perfect for the locals who live in hilly regions to cope up with the harsh weather conditions. This blog is for all those people who love to try different cuisines. Many dishes given below are made in both parts of Uttarakhand and are a must-try when you travel there.
Aloo Ke Gutke
When we think of Dussehra in Gujarat, ‘Jalebi and Fafda’ comes to our mind, Holi in Maharashtra means ‘Puran-Poli’. Just like that in Uttarakhand when we say ‘Aloo Ke Gutke’, Holi is what we visualize. It is a specialty of Kumauni Holi. No, it doesn’t mean that you can eat this dish only once a year. It can be made anytime and in any season.
The best way to eat this dish and how a Pahari eats, especially during Holi, is with the tasty but sour & spicy ‘Bhaang ki Chutney. That is another famous item of Kumauni cuisine. This flavourful and colorful-looking dish of Kumaon is nothing but fried potatoes made with the tossing of all basic spices with sliced boiled potatoes. The ‘Pahari aloo’, typically called in the Himalayan region is quite different and very flavourful than potatoes which are produced in plains.
Bhatt ki Churkani
Bhatt ki Churkani, as the name suggests is made of Bhatt or Black Soybean. It is grown amply across Uttarakhand and forms a very important crop of Kumaon. This dish requires minimal effort but is highly rich in nutrients.
Bhatt is blended with rice flour along with other ingredients like ginger-garlic paste, and basic spices like turmeric, salt, and red chili powder. Then garnished with coriander and best served with rice. We Kumaunis have a really soft corner for Bhatt because you’ll find many dishes are prepared from Bhatt. It is a very easy-to-make recipe and you should definitely try it because it is healthy as well as tasty. You won’t regret eating this dish.
Chains or Chainsoo – Kumaon cuisine delicacy
This is one of the most delicious dishes in the Kumaon region. Chains or Chainsoo is made of the Black gram or Urad Dal which is finely grounded and then roasted until you can smell its aroma. It is typically made in ghee and cooked with onion and tomato paste along with other spices. The best and only way to eat Chainsoo dal is with steamed rice.
Although it is a typical Garhwali dish, it is prepared in the Kumaon region as well. An ideal way to prepare this dish is – to use iron utensils to cook as it makes chains tastier. It is also highly rich in protein which makes this dish even more incredible. Chainsoo is a typical winter food but people in hilly regions eat it every season. It is a must-try dish, if you haven’t then make sure to try it whenever you visit Uttarakhand.
Do read: Splendour of Himalayas at Binsar
Sana hua Nimbu Mooli / Nimbu Saan
Basking in the glow of sunny winter days and having Sana Hua Nimbu is what every Pahadi craves in winter. It is a mouth-watering winter snack, made of lemons (large-size lemons are grown in Uttarakhand) and radish, mixed together with curd, bhang powder, and salt. That’s it, it is served in a bowl and savored by Uttarakhand people. It is a must-try dish with a sour and salty taste.
Bhatiya/Bhatt ka Jaula – Popular Kumaon cuisine
Normally, any Indian delicacy is incomplete without spices, but let me tell you this Bhatiya is made without any spices. It is made with just two things – Bhatt (black soybean) and rice. To make this dish wholesome, it is best served with Kadhi (prepared by mixing curd, besan, and spices) or ‘Hara Dhaniya Namak’ (Green Coriander Salt). It is my favorite dish and if asked which Kumauni cuisine I will prefer to have any time, this would be it.
Do read: Birding in Kumaon
‘Palak ka Kaapa’ as it is typically called by the local people, is nutritious spinach gravy and very easy to make. Usually, when greens are cooked to saturation it loses its nutrients. However, in the case of Kaapa, spinach is not cooked for too long. So, it retains its nutrients and is a lovely green in color when you serve this dish. It is made by mixing rice flour for that perfect thick gravy and liquefy with water. Cook it for few minutes and you are good to go, best serve it with a steaming bowl of rice. Palak ka Kaapa is prepared in winters because Pahadi spinach grows at that time only, however, you can eat and make it any time of the year.
Bal Mithai and Singori – Popular Kumaon cuisine
If you thought the list was all about savory delicacies, you’re wrong. No list of delicacies is perfect until there’s a sweet dish involved. Therefore, Singori and Bal mithai is a Pahadi delicacy you need to try and serve this festive season. Singori is made of khoya and wrapped with a Maalu leaf like a cone. On the other hand, Bal mithai is typically like a chocolate fudge coated with white sugar balls. The ingredients required for both these dishes are quite simple: khoya (evaporated milk cream), grated coconut, granulated sugar, cane sugar, and butter.
The process is quite easy as well. All you have to do (if you want to try it at home) is to roast the khoya, add the sugar, and then set it in your favorite shape on a buttered pan.
If you want to try the famous sweets in Uttarakhand then Almora (a district of the Kumaon region) is for you to visit. Overall, we’d definitely say trying this recipe out is one of the easiest ways in which you can experience Uttarakhand from the comforts of your home.
Dubuk / Dubke
Originating in the laps of Garhwal, Dubuk, also known as Dubke is an authentically traditional dish from the laps of Uttarakhand. It is a lentil soup, with the main ingredient being Gahat/Kulthi (Horse gram) or Bhatt (black soybeans). However, it can also be prepared with diverse lentils/beans like Arhar, Chana, and Moong. Apart from that, it also includes ingredients like cumin, fenugreek seeds, onion, asafoetida (Hing), and other regular ingredients like turmeric and red chili powder, garlic, etc. It is a proper winter dish in the foothills region served well with steamed rice or roti, mostly preferred with rice.
In the most basic way, this dish is prepared by grinding/blending the Bhatt dal that is soaked overnight into a coarse paste. Further, mix it with other ingredients already present in an iron skillet. You might find this dish nothing special (just old basic dal turned into a thick gravy-like), but once tried and it will change your perception.
Bhaang Ki Chutney
Bhang ki chutney has to be my favorite from the lot because nothing beats it. Simply making Thandai out of bhang is not enough and this chutney from the interiors of Uttarakhand just might be the new thing you need to try. The process is quite simple as well. All you have to do is roast the bhang seeds and then grind them in a mixer. To the seeds, add green chilies, lemon juice, mint leaves, coriander, water, and salt and grind to a paste. Voila! The chutney is ready.
Mandua Ki Roti
Another deliciously healthy Pahari recipe you should definitely try is the Mandua Ki Roti. Making this dish is very simple which is contrary to the complex name of the dish. For this recipe, Ragi flour is simply kneaded with salt, carrot, yogurt, green chili, and spring onions into a dough. After resting this dough for a few minutes, you are good to go to make Chappatis out of this flour. The process of making the Chappatis remains the same while the nutritional value of the food increases ten folds.
Ras Bhaat is made of pulses like Chana or Chickpeas, Bhatt, Rajma or Kidney Beans, and Gahat or Horse Gram. The name gives you an idea that it is a thick liquid made of all these ingredients. The preparation of this dish is quite a task as it involves boiling the pulses and then cooking in an iron container. Further, separating the pulses from liquid and starting the process of making Ras. To the liquid add rice flour and basic ingredients like salt, and red chili powder and complete it by giving it ‘Jeere ka Tadka’.
Serve a hot bowl of ras with rice and mixed pulses that you separated in the starting, without these pulses ras is incomplete. You can eat ras and pulses separately or can mix pulses into ras and eat together, it’s up to you. It is a perfect winter delicacy and that too a recommended one. Do try!
This delicacy has been given the perfect name because of the way it is prepared. ‘Thech’ means crushing and ‘wani’ means curry. That means this dish is prepared by crushing potatoes using a mortar and pestle. It is then added to sauteed garlic and ginger. Further, topping it off with ingredients like black eye peas, turmeric, red chili, and salt. To make it in curry form, hot water is poured. You can also prepare this dish with Radish root or Pahari Mooli. Serve it with chapatis/rice to your non-Pahari friends and they will love it.
These delicacies will be delightful and full of nutrition (except sweets, but we need those calories as well) to treat all non-Pahari and Pahari people.
This is a posy by Nikita Chandola as part of the IndiTales Internship Program.