A Food Lover’s Guide To Uttarakhand’s Cuisine
Uttarakhand, also known as the Land of Gods, is a northern state in India known for its pristine natural beauty, majestic mountains, and vibrant culture. The state is also known for its unique and diverse cuisine, largely influenced by geography, climate, and cultural heritage.
Uttarakhand’s cuisine reflects the region’s rich culinary history and the use of locally grown ingredients. The mountainous terrain makes it difficult to grow many crops, so the cuisine relies heavily on locally available ingredients such as millet, rice, lentils, and vegetables. The region is also home to various herbs and spices that add a distinct flavor to the food.
The state is divided into two distinct regions – Kumaon and Garhwal – each with unique culinary traditions. Apart from Kumaoni and Garhwali cuisine, Uttarakhand is known for its unique street food, sweets, and beverages. These beverages are a perfect way to beat the heat during summer and are known for their medicinal properties.
In this blog, we will take you on a culinary journey through Uttarakhand’s cuisine and introduce you to some of the must-try dishes in Uttarakhand.
The Kumaon region is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and is known for its hilly terrain, dense forests, and cool climate. Kumaoni cuisine is the food of the Kumaon region, which covers most of the eastern half of Uttarakhand. It is known for its simple yet flavorful dishes. The region’s cuisine reflects this geography and climate, focusing on locally grown ingredients like grains, lentils, vegetables, and fruits suited for the mountain environment. The region is known for its unique rice varieties, such as red and black rice, which are used in various dishes. The lentils commonly used in Kumaoni cuisine include black gram, horse gram, and kidney beans.
Vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, and spinach are also widely used in the cuisine. Fruits such as apricots, peaches, and plums are commonly used in desserts and chutneys. Here’s a closer look at Kumaoni cuisine and some of its popular dishes:
- Bhatt ki Churkani
A famous dish, Bhatt ki Churkani made with black beans. The beans are soaked overnight and then pressure-cooked until they are soft. They are then tempered with various spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder.
- Aloo Ke Gutke
Aloo Ke Gutke is a simple and delicious potato dish with mustard oil flavored with cumin, coriander, and red chili powder. The potatoes are first boiled and then pan-fried until they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Dubuk is a traditional Kumaoni. The main ingredients are lentils and rice. The lentils are soaked and ground into a batter, mixed with rice flour and spices. The mixture is then steamed to make soft and fluffy cakes.
Garhwali cuisine is a traditional cuisine originating from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, covering most of Uttarakhand’s western half. The cuisine is known for its simple yet delightful dishes made with locally grown ingredients.
The Garhwal region is known for its mountainous terrain, dense forests, and cold climate. The region’s cuisine reflects this geography and climate, focusing on locally grown ingredients suited for the mountain environment. The region is known for its unique rice varieties, such as the chaawal ki chaat and the madua ki roti, used in various dishes. The lentils commonly used in Garhwali cuisine include black gram, horse gram, and kidney beans.
Vegetables like potatoes, beans, and radishes are also widely used in the cuisine. Fruits such as apples, pears, and apricots are commonly used in desserts and chutneys. Here’s a closer look at Garhwali cuisine and some of its popular dishes:
Chainsoo is a thick soup made with black gram lentils. The lentils are first roasted, then ground into a fine powder, mixed with water, and boiled to make a thick soup. The soup is flavored with cumin, coriander, and asafoetida.
Kafuli is a mouthwatering Garhwali dish with spinach and fenugreek leaves as the main ingredients. The leaves are blanched, ground into a paste, then cooked with mustard oil and flavored with cumin, coriander, and garlic. This dish is typically served with rice.
Phaanu is a lentil dish cooked with black gram, kidney beans, and split green gram. The lentils are first soaked, ground into a paste, then cooked with mustard oil and spices. This dish is often paired with rice and is perfect for the cold mountain climate.
Pahadi cuisine is a general term used to describe the food of the entire Uttarakhand region. It is Kumaoni and Garhwali cuisines and is known for its simplicity and use of local ingredients. Some of the popular dishes in Pahadi cuisine include:
- Bal Mithai
Bal Mithai is another mouthwatering sweet dish from Uttarakhand made with roasted khoya and coated with caramelized sugar. The dish has a unique flavor and texture, making it a favorite among locals and tourists. Bal Mithai is often paired during festivals and special occasions in Uttarakhand and is a must-try for anyone visiting the region.
- Kandalee Ka Saag
Most tasty dish, made with wild greens in the mountainous region. The greens are boiled and sautéed with onions, garlic, and spices. The dish is usually served with rice or roti.
Thechwani is a divine dish with potatoes and spices, including coriander, cumin, and red chili powder, as important ingredients. The potatoes are boiled, mashed, and then cooked with a spice mix and garlic. The dish is constantly served with rice or roti.
Arsa is a sweet dish with rice flour, jaggery, and ghee. The rice flour is mixed with jaggery and ghee to make a dough, which is then deep-fried until golden brown. The dish is frequently served during festivals and special occasions.
- Til Ke Laddu
Til ke laddu is a heavenly sweet dish from Uttarakhand made with roasted sesame seeds, jaggery, and ghee. The mixture is rolled into small balls and served as a dessert or snack. The laddus are high in calcium, iron, and other essential nutrients, making them a healthy and tasty treat. Til ke laddu is often prepared during festivals and special occasions in Uttarakhand and is a must-try for anyone visiting the region.
- Gahat Ki Dal
Gahat Ki Dal is a traditional lentil soup made with horse gram lentils. The lentils are soaked and then boiled with water and spices. The soup is known for its medicinal properties and is often used to treat respiratory disorders.
Uttarakhand is also known for its unique beverages that are perfect for the mountain climate. Some of the popular beverages in Uttarakhand include:
- Bhang Ki Chutney
Bhang Ki Chutney is a traditional drink made with the leaves of the cannabis plant. The leaves are ground into a paste and mixed with water, lemon juice, and sugar. The drink is known for its medicinal properties and is often used to treat digestive disorders.
Chaas is a traditional buttermilk drink that is perfect for the hot summers. The buttermilk is made by churning curd with water and is then flavored with spices, including coriander, cumin, and mint.
Buransh is a sweet and tangy juice from the rhododendron flower found in the Himalayan region. Buransh is known for its cooling properties and is often consumed during summer.
- Bal Mithai Shake
It is a refreshing shake made with Bal Mithai, a popular sweet dish from Uttarakhand made with roasted khoya and caramelized sugar. The shake is blended with milk and ice cream, making it a perfect dessert.
- Kaaphal Juice
It is a juice from the Kaaphal fruit found in the Uttarakhand region. The fruit is high in antioxidants and is known for its medicinal properties.
- Rhododendron Tea
It is a tea made from the rhododendron tree leaves found in the Himalayan region. The tea is known for its floral and earthy flavor and is said to have various health benefits.
Uttarakhand is also known for its delicious street food, perfect for a quick snack. Some of the popular street foods in Uttarakhand include:
Kachori is a delicious snack made with a dough of flour and stuffed with lentils, spices, and potatoes. The kachori is then deep-fried until golden brown and served with chutney.
- Aloo Tikki
Aloo Tikki is a delightful street food made with mashed potatoes and spices. The potato mixture is then shaped into small balls and deep-fried until golden brown. The aloo tikki is then served with chutney.
Singori is a savory dessert made with khoya (milk solids) and wrapped in a leaf. The khoya is mixed with sugar and then wrapped in a leaf to give it a unique flavor. The dish is typically served during festivals and special occasions.
Uttarakhand’s cuisine is a unique blend of flavors and ingredients perfect for the mountain climate. The food is simple yet flavorful and is a unique blend of flavors, textures, and aromas that reflect its geography, climate, and cultural heritage. From Kumaoni cuisine to Garhwali cuisine and Pahadi cuisine, hearty curries to flavorful street food and refreshing beverages, there is something for everyone in Uttarakhand’s cuisine. Whether you are a food lover or looking to explore the culture of Uttarakhand, the cuisine of this beautiful state is worth a try. So, the next time you visit Uttarakhand, indulge in its delicious food and explore the local cuisine.