#CelebratingHimalayas #LocalCuisines #NourishingCultures

I am technically from Kumaon. My grandmother was born and brought up in Kashmir. My grandfather was born in Garhwal. I grew up in Kashmir, Arunachal, Garhwal, Sikkim, Himachal. Nurtured in the cultural lap of the brave Gorkhas from Nepal. If anyone asks me where I am from, truly, its the Himalayas.

So what does a woman from the Himalayas do when she is married into a family of #global #Dilliwalas who have tasted much much exotic food from across the length and breadth of world?

She thinks. And she realises.

That the dilwala Dilliwalas – like the Mumbaiwalas, Banglorewalas, Chennaiwalas, Pune and Hyderabadwalas – while they may know of foods from far, know very little of the foods from near, i.e, the #realNorth of India, which is not Delhi or the hindi heartland but, yes, The Himalayas!

So, not being the greatest cook when it comes to food, but being rather good at cooking up imagination, she … desires. To gift her punjabi family a pahadi treat for their taste buds! 🙂

We rope in one of the best team of chefs in Delhi headed by the one and only #TarunDacha a Telugu bidda from Delhi, and guided by #ChefVivekRana from, yes, Himachal, assisted by #ChefDatta from Garhwal.

This team of chefs at @TheClaridges puts together a completely experimental cuisine, never tried before in the hotel. And I would I think – quite rightly I presume – in India.

The food is like nothing we have tasted before in a hotel!

We call it the #HimalayanTreat. Featuring cuisine from Himachal, Garhwal, Kumaon, Kashmir, Darjeeling.

As starters.

There are chips of Nadru, Lotus stem, served with yogurt dip. Typical of Kashmir.

Badas, made of grounded urad dal, considered auspicious in the hills, served with tomato chutney. Uttarakhand, Himachal.

Nadru kababs from #Kashmir.

Fish, which is called Amritsari, but Chef Rana tells, it originated from the hill rivers of Himachal.

The chefs serve us live:

Gorkhali chutney (in the Army we called it that, here they say Alu ka achar) sesame paste, mustard tinge in Alu. Served with #Sel Roti: round rings, fried, yumm. This from Nepal influenced Darjeeling.

#Siddu, freshly made steamed bread, stuffed with urad dal, from #Mandi in Himachal. Soft slightly sweet accompanied with a spicy hot chutney to tingle just the right taste buds!

#Bhatua, goat liver and stomach – apparently the preference in our hills is of goat over lamb, as they eat fresh grass – served with multi grain pita bread. Cooking style, Himachali.

For the mains:

Pahadi #kukkad, chicken, from Garhwal, cooked with the skin, so tastes very different. Local. Rural. With khade masale.

#KhattaGosht from Himachal, made with little kachhi kairi, raw mango. This is typical of #Kangra in Himachal.

#ChickpeaMadra, chana cooked with yogurt. Thick gravy, light spices … mouth melting!

#JakiaAlu: typical of Uttarakhand, jakia is a spice found in the foothills. Its use is like mustard, rai. But flavour entirely different. Unlike mustard, this is softer in the first bite and then flavours fully later.

#Aam ki subzi: Khaati, sour, and a little meethi. With a thick consistency. Part subzi, part chutney, full aha!

#Mooli ka Alan : In Kumaon and Himachal we call it Thechwa. Radish crushed. This with bhaat ie rice, tops!

#Kaapa: Typically Kumaoni paalak fully grounded, a pahadi takkar to sarson ka saag!

#Gahat ki daal: A pulse typical of Uttarakhand, black in colour. Soaked overnight, ground and then created into a culinary magic. Not just yumm, but great for gall bladder stones too!

#PahadiRaita: From Kumaon, made with grated cucumber and mustard seeds. Chef Rana tells us that Rai-ta, all concept of Raita, boondi, onion etc etc originates from this original version of rai-ta. Look at the word, #Rai. That which contains rai, mustard, is Raita. And that, my friends, is this Pahadi Raita!

All the above is had mostly with bhaat, rice. Or madve ki roti. Or one of the most innovated Pahadi breads, #Bhaturu. It is essentially fermented wheat. When aata, kneaded dough becomes old, it ferments, khameeri-ata. The rotis made from it are thick. A few spices, my mother adds, cumin for digestion, salt. And cook it normally or fry it, like our master chefs did!

For sweets:

Jhangore ki Kheer: a millet typical of Garhwal. Super high in calcium iron. Gluten free. Cooked in milk, with crunchy chironji.

Arsa: at most Himalayan weddings we have this, grounded rice with jaggery. Made into round flat balls and deep fried.

Boondi aur Chawal: Simple yet super yummy dish of meetha chawal. Boondi, the innovation by our chefs, added colour and another flavouring to this traditional cuisine famous across the Himalayas.

In closing, i must add, this meal was deeply satisfying not just for us and for all our guests but also for the chefs and the hospitality staff, as most of them are pahadis themselves!

The food, truly, was home cooked and heart warmed!

As my little nephew commented, “I had never had food North of Delhi!”

Sadly, even when most of us go for holidays to the Himalayas and post lovely images from there, all we end up tasting is something that belongs not to the hills themselves.

The pahadi people have little confidence in their offerings, and the plains people little curiosity or interest.

The above was our little effort at attempting to change this within our own punjabi family, who I must add, typical of the #DiLwalas Dilliwalas played happy happy sport to it all, loving every bit of the cuisine spread!

Here is wishing each one of you more culinary adventures when you travel to Himalayas. Ask the people, what they eat, and if you get a chance, bite in. Trust me, you wont regret!





StoryCatcher | Filmmaker

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Akanksha Damini Joshi

Akanksha Damini Joshi

StoryCatcher | Filmmaker

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