The magical land of Himachal Pradesh has long been a favorite place for Indians to travel to. The mountain state has provided much needed relief to north Indians during the hot summer months, much in the same way that it provided relief to British officers stationed in the Indian sub continent. The state is also known for its pristine and unspoiled beauty that is a refreshing and inspiring change for people who live in the plains.
Of all the wonders of Himachal Pradesh, its delightful cuisine is probably the most underestimated and underrated. The state has a truly exquisite cuisine born of a long culinary tradition and an abundance of fresh and flavorful produce that grows naturally on the prolific hillsides and fertile valleys of the state. The many farms and orchards here are chock full of some of the best fruits, vegetables, cereals and dairy products that one can obtain and the evolved cooking styles only add to the feast.
About Himachal Pradesh cuisine
The people of Himachal Pradesh are a sturdy and hard working people who love to eat fresh and nutritious food. Due to the relatively cold climate and the arduous physical work required to keep warm, good food is an essential component of life in Himachal Pradesh. People here have to walk a lot and climb hills as part of their daily schedule, which requires hearty carbohydrates and essential vitamins and minerals that can be hard to come by.
The food in Himachal Pradesh is prepared slowly, with slow cooking and lots of pre-marinating. Most of the dishes are vegetarian with meat being popular only in the northern regions. The meat is usually of a darker hue and is flavored with mango and other fruit juices to give it a tangy flavor and chewy texture. The deserts of this region are usually prepared with jiggery that is mixed with flour and a variety of other ingredients to prepare a galaxy of tasty sweets.
The epitome of Himachali cooking is the “Dham,” a festive and ceremonial meal. The exact dishes and ingredients of the Dham vary from region to region. The main regions of the state include Kangra, Mandi and Chamba, each of which has a characteristically different but related way of preparing Dham. Many of the dishes are curd based and include curries made with vegetables. They also include influences from Kashmiri, Tibetan, Punjabi and Nepali cuisines, producing an impressive array of tastes.
Top 7 Dishes of Himachal Pradesh
- Bhey: If you like lotus stem, you will love Bhey. It is a famous Himachali dish made with sliced lotus stem seasoned with garlic, ginger onions and flour. The characteristic flavor of the lotus stem is perfectly augmented and enhanced by the spicy sauce.
- Tudkiya Bhath: The traditional rice dish of the region, Tudkiya is a little like Pulao and is made with chunks of tomatoes and other vegetables. It also contains lentil, yoghurt and raw garlic.
- Babru: This is the Himachali version of the north Indian Kachori and is very popular in the area around Shimla. It is usually consumed as a snack along with tea or served as an appetizer during mealtimes.
- Mittha: This is the traditional sweet dish of Himachal Pradesh made from sweetened rice, saffron, dry fruits and other goodies. It is served at the end of meals or by itself.
- Chha Gosht: A typical delicacy in Himachal Pradesh, Chha Gosht is prepared with marinated lamb smothered with gram flour, coriander powder, and cinnamon usually served with rich gravy.
- Aktori: This is a kind of cake or pancake that is made with buckwheat leaves and wheat flour. It is a ceremonial dish usually served during festivals and is as appetizing and tasty as it is healthy.
- Trout: This famous freshwater fish takes on unique hues when prepared in Himachal Pradesh. The carnivorous fish is marinated with a minimum amount of spices to retain its original flavor and served with a rich gravy.
Where to stay
If you are travelling to Himachal Pradesh and looking to explore its idiosyncratic cuisine, one of the best places to stay is Solan. Here, there is a great resort called the Timber Train Resort, which offers authentic traditional cooking along with a sprawling campus surrounded by lush green forests and stunning views. The resort also has luxurious rooms and warm hospitality, making it a great place to check in.
The Moksha Resort is the ideal resort to enjoy the best of Himachal Pradesh cuisine as the food is prepared by expert chefs and aesthetically served at great locations like its circular restaurant that offers stunning views of the majestic snow capped mountains all around. The chefs are very accommodating and will happily honor your culinary requests if you have any, making it a truly special gastronomic experience in the hills.