Himachali Traditional Kitchen and Cooking

Himachali food varies from region to region. The cuisine of Himachal Pradesh is largely based on the climate and topography of the state. While the everyday meal is the usual dal-chawal-subzi-roti, special dishes are cooked during festive occasions. Amongst festive food, the traditional meal, Dham (lunch served in traditional occasions) finds instant mention.

Dham is cooked only by botis (a particular caste of Brahmins who are hereditary chefs). Preparation for this elaborate mid-day meal begins the night before. The utensils used for cooking the food are normally copper ones. It is served in courses to people who sit on floor. The food is served on leaf plates. The Dham includes plain aromatic rice, fried pulses or dal, spicy vegetable curry of red kidney beans and many desserts to satisfy one’s appetite.

The traditional dham differs in every region of the state. The typical menu for dham would start with rice, moong dal and a madra of rajma(red kidney beans) or Chole ( chik pea) which is cooked in yoghurt which is prepared in unique style by adding approximately twenty spices . This is followed by mash dal, topped by khatta (sweet & sour sauce) made of tamarind and jaggery, the dham ends with the mitha (dessert) – sweet rice or mithdee (made of boondi or bread crumbs etc).