Uttarakhand is popular in India among nature lovers and the adventure junkies. However, little do we know about the famous food of Uttarakhand or how the people out there in those hard, hilly terrains prepare their traditional meals with very limited ingredients.
Not to forget, a traditional food of Uttarakhand has balanced flavour and are cooked mostly over a slow fire!
Food of Uttarakhand traditionally famous
Uttarakhand’s two geographical regions – Kumaon and Garhwal have pretty distinctive food specialty and famous dishes. At the same time, they share some common ingredients and cooking styles.
So, while Garwali dishes like Thenchwani and Jhangore ki Kheer are famous dishes in one part of the state, the other part has equally popular counterpart like Sana Hua Neebu and Singodi sweet.
Kumaoni Dishes of Uttarakhand
When we talk about the most ethnic cuisine of Uttarakhand, the leading the authentic Kumaoni delicacies lost to the pressure of ‘popular’ demands for Tibetan cuisines by tourists.
But if your interest is genuine, then try to get invited in a traditional Kumaoni household and gorge on some delicious, simple and highly nutritious foods.
Kumaon offer foods that are organic and have wonderful health benefits. So if possible, then try to replicate the recipes in your own kitchen to make your stomach hale and hearty.
The traditional fare
Rice and chapatti are the two common staple foods in any typical Kumaoni diet. As people are pretty hard working there and lead a tough life, they don’t have the luxury of having meals every two hours, as per the popular notion!
The morning meal begins with the famous local food of Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region like rice, cucumber raita, salad, chapatti, urad (black lentil), Gehet or chana (black gram) dal, Aaloo Ke Gutke, and chutney.
Kumaoni people have an early and light dinner and during the night, they don’t prefer eating rice. So a dinner mainly consists of chapatti, dal, ghee, and vegetables.
Various lentils, soya beans, red chilies, herbs, and very little spices- these are the main ingredients to cook up a satisfying meal at a Kumaoni household.
The main condiment for any Kumaoni brunch is various chutneys. Bhang or Cannabis seeds and pomegranate seeds are mainly used in chutney preparations.
There is a famous winter condiment called Sana Hua Nimbu which is made from- radish, curb, lemons, and cannabis seeds, and do wonders to keep oneself warm during those chilly months.
When it comes to sabzi, Kumaonis use organically produced fresh and local leaves and plants.
You can have a highly nutritious and delectable sabzi made from leaves of nettle plants (shishun), chudkhani (black soya), bhatiya (white soya), spinach, and ras (an assortment of soyabean, gram and lentil).
Cereals like mandua and buckwheat are made use of making chapattis, and they are savored hot with sabzi or Gur (jaggery)/ghee especially during winter.
Curry is a favorite form of cooking vegetables in Kumaon, and mainly curd and lemon juices are applied to season the curry or jholi (as it is known locally).
Though the region is steadily on a vegetable diet, there are some communities who eat the meat of mutton and chicken, and this trend is growing rapidly across the area.
Popular Beverages of Uttarakhand
Kumaonis consume tea with lots of milk and sugar. The beverage intake is repeated several times in a day retain the warmness and be energetic- thus making it almost a life-saving potion.
Apart from that, there are types of locally brewed alcohol that you may find here.
Famous Dessert dishes of Uttarakhand
In India, milk is the primal ingredient to make any sweets or dessert. But it’s not easy to find milk in abundance, in the hilly terrain of Uttarakhand.
So in Kumaon, only on special occasions like a festival or at puja, liquid or condensed milk is used to cook kheer and sweets.
Jhangora kheer is made from milk, sugar and home-grown cereal Jhangora. Quite famous in Nainital, Baal mithai is traditional popular sweet of Uttarakhand, decorated with sugar balls and has khoya khir stuffing inside. Also, Singodi is another unique sweet dish, wrapped with oak leaves and infused by condensed milk.
Food Snacks of Uttarakhand
Aloo ke Gutke is probably the best-known snack that you will get at various eateries in every nuke and corner of Kumaon.
Yummy potato wedges deep-fried with cumin seeds and local condiments like jamboo and jakhya, and finally garnished by coriander leaves.
Another widely-admired Kumaoni snack is Badeel– which is a diamond shaped deep-fried, chana daal mixture. And when it is served hot with garlic or coriander chutney, you may feel heavenly pleasure inside your mouth.