Amongst all the things that make Uttarakhand a much desired tourist destination, food is undoubtedly a significant one. It is said that the food up in the hills tastes much better than that in the plains. Well, I guess that’s not up to me to decide, but the food lovers!
The unique taste in the food in Uttarakhand is believed to be due to the use of fresh ingredients grown locally. That’s where the difference in the soil, altitude and atmosphere comes to play. And also, because of the fresh high altitude mountain water that is used to prepare the dish.
The food is usually spicy and tangy, and aimed at generating heat in the body, since the weather remains cold around the year. The tourists can also benefit by eating such food items, as they help prevent or reduce altitude sickness.
However, it is recommended to the people who are not used to travelling in the hills to eat the food slowly and in small portions, so that their body is able to digest it well, considering the struggle it’s going through adjusting to the altitude.
The state has mainly two regions – Garhwal and Kumaon. Both have their own cultures, traditions, identities and authentic cuisines. However, there are also a lot of similarities, especially in case of their food, given their geographical location and shared history.
A lot of food items here start with the word ‘Pahadi’ indicating that they’re from the hills, ‘Garhwali’ showing that they’re from Garhwal region, and ‘Kumaoni’ denoting that they’re from Kumaon region.
Bread and Rice
The major portion of any meal in Uttarakhand consists of either rice or flatbreads, or both. The rice/ bread based items could be the common kind to the ones that are prepared throughout India.
The one type of bread authentic to this region is Madua Roti (Finger Millet Bread), which is prepared like normal flat bread. The only difference is that the wheat flour is replaced with Finger Millet Flour.
So, let’s head on to the highlight of the blog, i.e. the 12 authentic food items from Uttarakhand, and here they are:
Non Vegetarian Curries
Pahadi Chicken – A classic chicken dish from Uttarakhand, slow cooked in low flame. It could be prepared both dry, or with gravy. One of the most significant features of non-vegetarian dishes here is that mostly whole spices are used for flavor, rather than ground ones.
Garhwali Bhuna Mutton – A tradition Garhwali mutton dish prepared dry with very little water! Like the one above, whole spices are used to flavor this dish as well.
Badi – Badis are balls that are made of Black Gram Pulse. The pulse is soaked in water, minced and mixed with spices and dried in the sun. The balls are then used as a major ingredient in different curries and dals (a common recipe made of Pulses).
Aalu Gutke – Aalu Gutke are boiled potatoes diced into bite size pieces, and fried with whole and ground spices.
Bhatt Ki Churdkani – Bhatt Ki Churdkani is actually a pulse soup made of Black Gram Pulse. The pulse is stir-fried with ingredients like onion and spices, and then, cooked in water.
Kappa – Kappa is a dish prepared with Spinach. Chopped spinach is cooked in a pan until soft and mushy, and then flour, either wheat or rice, is added to it and cooked further. The final result looks like a think green spinach soup.
Snacks and Starters
Kareel – Kareel is made from Gram. Boiled Gram is minced, shaped and fried. The fired mixture is accumulated and minced again. Then, they’re laid on a sheet, and cut into desired bite size pieces.
Thechua – Sort of like a salad from Uttarakhand! Fresh vegetables like radish, chilies with herbs and spices are pounded heavily for as long as the radish breaks apart and the other ingredients become fine.
Bhang Chutney – The major component of Bhang Chutney is Bhang Seed or Hemp Seed. The seed is toasted, and then grinded with coriander, chilies and so on into a fine paste.
Pahadi Kheera Raita – The two prime ingredients of the dish are Cucumber and Yogurt. Grated cucumber is mixed with yogurt, salt and spices to make this item.
Ghughute – A sweet item prepared on special occasions! Wheat flour and semolina is prepared into a dough with sugar and other ingredients. The mixture is then shaped and deep fried. A variation of this dish exists in the form of Singhal. The main difference between the two is the use of wheat flour in the former one. Singhal is made only with semolina, and is therefore crunchier.
Jhangora Kheer – Powdered Jhangora (Barnyard Millet) is fried in plain butter and browned. Then, it is cooked with milk and sugar, and thickened. It is one of the most classic homely desserts in Uttarakhand.
Despite that fact that the items mentioned above are authentic and true to the region, there are infinite variations of these items that exist. The main reason being that these are mainly prepared at home. So, to experience food like these, you need to befriend a local. Or maybe try cooking yourself!
Whatever the case, these food items surely add to the reputation of the state of Uttarakhand. A great place to visit! A must to include in your bucket list!