Where the hills echo the wind and the winds caress the corn.
Where women spend a whole day gathering sticks to light the fire of
hearth. The cusine of Himachal Pradesh is simple and made delicious with large additions of
'Ghee'. Non-vegetarian food, with a generous dose of spices like cardamom,
cinnamon, cloves and red chillies, is very much the norm.
While the everyday meal is the usual dal-chawal-subzi-roti, the common north Indian meal of rice, lentil broth, dish of vegetables and bread, special dishes are cooked during festive occasions. Rice is the staple food and with it is served the tangy pungent Maahni or Urad Daal with raw dried mangoes, and the Madra or Lentils cooked in yoghurt. 'Madra' of Chamba is unique as it includes about twenty spices and is made of Rajmah and cooked in yoghurt and Desi Ghee in slow fire.
Himachalies love the sizzling Luchi-Poti or Lamb Intestines, which is a famous dish in the winter season. The Makki or fresh corn flour of Himachal Pradesh is especially delicious, as it is ground slowly in 'Paani Ki Gharaats' or water propelled-mill and eaten with milk for breakfast. Makki or Lentils and spices with Chhachh or buttermilk are traditional dishes eaten by hardy mountain folk.
Sidu is a kind of bread made from wheat flour. It is kneaded with yeast and the dough is allowed to rise for 4-5 hours. With stuffing of fat it is first browned over a slow fire and then steamed. Sidu is normally eaten with 'ghee' or clarified butter, dal or lentil broth as well as with mutton.
In many parts of the state, ankalos made of rice flour are a festive dish. In the dry Lahaul-Spiti valley, the leaves of buckwheat are mixed with wheat flour and made into cakes called 'aktori'. Patande is a sort of pancake dish, which is a specialty in the Sirmaur area.
The dham, a traditional festive food and special dish, is cooked only by 'botis', a particular caste of Brahmins who are hereditary chefs. Preparations for this elaborate mid-day meal begin the night before. It is served in c ourses on epattalsi or leaf plates. In the Chamba region, the typical menu for a dham would start with rice, moong dal and a madrah of rajmah cooked in yoghurt. This is followed by boor ki kari and a dark lentil or mash dal. Topped by khatta or sweet and sour sauce, made of tamarind and gur or jaggery, the dham ends with the mittha or dessert - sweet rice, liberally mixed with raisins and dry fruit.
The cuisine of Himachal is as distinctive and assorted, hence all the regional specialties ranging from South-Indian to Thai and Italian to Chinese are offered. Thalis are very well known in Himachal Pradesh. Dosas and utthapams play a major role in the South Indian menu. Spicy momos also tantalize the taste buds of most. Pastas decorated with numerous kinds of sauces and spices are very common all through Himachal Pradesh.
Tibetian & Japanese Eating Delicacies
There is tremendous influence of Tibetan and Japanese cuisine. 'Amdo' cuisine descending from the northeastern region of Tibet is a scrumptious composition served on a platter. Fish and chicken are the chief essentials of non-vegetarian cuisine.