Cuisine of Uttarakhand - Food from Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is also known as 'Dev Bhoomi' or the 'Land of Gods' and 'Veer Bhoomi' which means the 'Land of Braves'.
Cuisine of Uttarakhand: Food of Uttarakhand or Uttaranchal cuisine is simple and similar to its people. The simple and healthy Uttarakhand cuisine has astonishingly evolved, not only to just delight taste of buds but also to make most of the available resources.
The delicacies prepared in Uttarakhand simply exemplify the common phrase “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”.
You will be greeted by different aromas coming from roadside vendors while walking through the road up to your favourite hill station in Uttarakhand.
Kumaon and Garhwal are two distinct constituent regions, both having their own distinctive traditions, festivals and culture and they unite as one in its methods of cooking and the choice of ingredients.
The food of Uttarakhand is classified by Garhwali cuisine and Kumaoni cuisine, food from two of its main regions. The dishes are simple and locally grown without being dominated by complex spices.
Apart from the picturesque valleys to the inexplicable beauty that makes it a heaven on earth, this place has a whole lot of delicacies to offer.
Some of the most famous dishes of Uttarakhand are cooked over a slow fire with wood and charcoal and consists of lentils and has a well balanced flavour.
Both these regions of Uttarakhand is famous for its beautiful tourist destinations and local food founded in these region.
Evolution of Cuisine of Uttarakhand - The Food from Uttarakhand
The Kumauni and Garhwali Cuisines together are popularly known as Pahari Cuisine.
The region of Uttarakhand can be dived in two broad regions when we discuss their food & it’s patterns.
The Garhwal region consists of districts of Chamoli, Tehri, Pauri, Uttarkashi, Dehradun, Haridwar and Rudraprayag which have their own regional specialities.
The Kumaun region has district as Nainital, Almora, Pithoragarh, Udham Singh Nagar, Bageshwar and Champwat.
The cuisine has regional influences because of its geographical locations, invasions and foreign settlers. The food and style of cooking are seasonal due to changes in the weather.
The organic food and slow cooking suits tremendously of high energy necessities of mountain and cold climate.
The reason that makes the food of Uttarakhand superior is the crops used are mostly organic, grown in same region by locals. Their cooking process and the varieties of species used in food makes its tasty and healthy.
Uttarakhand has a glorious past with a long history of its genesis and evolution. Contributions from great emperors, such as the Kushanas, Kudinas, Kanishka, Samudragupta, Katuria, Palas, Chandras and Pawaras have enriched the region over centuries.
Special Food of Uttarakhand | Notable Dishes from Uttarakhand
Garhwali and Kumauni cuisines are the regional cuisines of Uttarakhand
Garhwali and Kumauni cuisines are the regional cuisines of Uttarakhand. Garhwali and Kumauni cuisines are full of flavours, nutrition, filled with local regional spices.
Both of these regions have varieties of food which local people living in these regions prepare for their meals. however, the method and ways of cooking food style may be different according to regions and sub-regions.
One major distinction between the two cuisines of Uttarakhand is that Garhwalis favour more greens, which shows in their recipes like Kafuli, made using spinach and methi leaves.
Kafuli: This is a local dish of Uttarakhand, prepared from spinach and fenugreek leaves. This is generally prepared in iron wok and served with steamed rice.
Kandalee Ka Saag: Kandalee is a green leafy plant whose scientific name is (Urtica dioica) and locally known as Bicchu ghas whose leaves are used for preparation of Kandalee ka saag. Kandalee leafs are first boiled and then cooked into the saag.
Chainsoo: Another famous dish of Uttarakhand Garhwal region. Prepared from Kali dal or Urad dal, Chainso is very healthy and protein rich. Chainsoo is also known as Urad Ki Chainsoo Dal, Chainsi, Chainsu, and Chaunsa.
Bhang Ki Chutney: It is used with other dishes to increase there taste and flavour. It is popular in Uttarakhand prepared from bhang seeds (Hemp seeds). It has unique taste, flavour and aroma which makes your mouth water. It is mainly used as accompanies for other main dishes and snacks.
Mandua ki Roti – It is the local bread of choice made with finger millet or Ragi. It is also known as Koda locally & is very high in calcium and a great source of iron, fibre and iodine.
Thenchwani – The main ingredient in this Garhwali dish is a mountain radish root and mountain potato which is crushed along with some ginger and garlic. These ingredients are seasoned with aromatic and delectable spices that highlight the dish.
Phaanu / Phanoo / Phanu – This is a special Garhwali preparation that is prepared from lentils like Gahat or Kulath. This dal is left to soak for 8 hours before grinding it into a thick batter. The batter is not only used as gravy but also used to create small pancakes. These are then cooked together.
Aloo Ke Gutke – Although the preparation of this delicacy is extremely easy yet it is considered to be a culinary gem. Bursting with flavors this humble dish consists of fried potatoes that are seasoned with red chilli flakes, coriander leaves and other spices. Aloo ke Gutke is an ideal comfort food to indulge in while on the hills and is widely available as street food.
Dubuk – This is one of the traditional dishes of the Kumaoni region which is prepared with the help of either Arhar, Gahat or other lentil of your choice. This combination is then turned into a fine paste to which some rice flour is added. It is finally mixed with some flavourful powdered spices and cooked over slow fire.
Kumaoni Dal Bade – This is a popular favorite among the local population of the Kumaon region. These fritters are prepared with the help of Kumaoni dal and are fried to a crispy texture. These are known to be extremely healthy being gluten-free.
Kumaoni Raita – This delicious and refreshing raita is one of the most common delicacies of Uttarakhand. Made with fresh cucumber and coriander and seasoned with other herbs and spices this raita is eaten with the other main course dishes.
Beverages of Uttarakhand | Unique & Common Uttarakhandi Drinks
Popular Beverages from Cuisine of Uttarakhand that locals love & share
Burans or Blossom flower juice (Flower of Buransh or Rhododendron) – It is a famous local drink of Uttarakhand made with rhododendron abundantly found in the Himalayan ranges. Burans juice has been scientifically proven to cure heart diseases, sugar, liver & kidney problems, and even cancer in some cases. A regular intake of the drink has also been proven to be helpful against mild seasonal diseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, hair-loss, and skin acne.
Jaan – Jaan is the rice beer containing low concentration of alcohol. Jaan is a soft drink (local beer) prepared by fermentation of boiled rice with traditionally prepared starter culture called Balam. Jaan is also used to treat fever, dysentery, cough and cold and stomach ailments.
Kacchi – Kacchi is distilled liquor that contains higher concentration of alcohol. Kacchi is distilled beverage prepared by fermentation of boiled barley grains and distillation of ferment. Kacchi is used in stomach-ache, dysentery, cold and fatigue.
Desserts of Uttarakhand | Unique & Common Uttarakhandi Sweet Dishes
Delectable desserts from Cuisine of Uttarakhand that locals love & share.
Jhangora Ki Kheer: Jhangora or Barnyard Millet kheer is very popular sweet dish in Uttarakhand. It is very nutritious and healthy and has a delicious taste too.
Arsa: The famous and popular sweet dish of Uttarakhand. Made from rice flour, jaggery and ghee/oil. In most of the functions this sweet dish is prepared. Arsa is very sweet and is also very high in calories. It is also called Pahadi Arsa, Gur Pitha or Garhwali Arsa.
Singori: It’s another popular sweet dish of Uttarakhand mostly famous in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. It is prepared with khooa or khoya, a milk product, and then wrapped in a maalu leaf and shaped cone like.
Bal Mithai – Bal mithai is a brown chocolate-like fudge, made with roasted khoya, coated with white sugar balls, and is a popular Kumaoni sweet from the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. It is believed that Bal Mithai came to Almora from Nepal in the 7th or 8th century.
Rotana – Rotana is a traditional sweet in Uttarakhand. It is a kind of bite size fried cookie made with whole wheat flour, milk, desi ghee, fennel seeds, semolina (suji) and jaggery.
What are the cooking methods for Uttarakhandi Food?
Traditional and modern methods are both employed for cooking Cuisine of Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand was rich in copper ores, which were mined in both Garhwal and Kumaon region. The copper obtained from here was used to make hand-beaten copperware and musical instruments.
The objects made from copper are used in general household work, like cooking utensils, or vessels to store water. Copper utensils are especially popular for their health benefits.
Bhaddu – Bhaddu is a vessel made of bronze and is used to cook dal or mutton in traditional kitchens of Uttarakhand. It simulates functioning of a pressure cooker. It is primarily used for outdoor cooking over a wood or coal fire. It’s the perfect vessel for barbecue and great for slow cooking hardy lentils in Kumaon. In a traditional kitchen, a Katora is used to cover the Bhaddu. To add weight, water is filled in the Katora.
Bari – A bari is a large pot with a circular opening on the top used for for cooking or boiling over an open fire. It may or may not have a lid.
Banta / Gagar – This is the very common vessel usually used to store drinking water in the Uttarakhandi household.
Lotha / Luthyu / Lota – This small but essential vessel is used to drink water instead of glass in pahadi regions. Being made of copper, it is considered very healthy to drink water from it.
Gedu / Tokhni – Big vessels primarily used by the local Pundits to cook dal and curries in large quantities.
Sil batta – Erstwhile wet grinder of Indian households, used for making wet pastes or masalas and chutneys. A flat stone slab, known as Sil is chiselled to make it rough to aid grinding. Batta is a chiselled cylindrical stone with which the grinding is done. Herbs are placed on sil and grinded with the help of batta which is held in hands and pushed with to and fro movements to pace grinding process.
Paraat – Paraat is used for many purposes like kneading dough for roti, cutting vegetables, making pakoda mix, and many more.
Imam dasta – Used to pound dry condiments or spices to intensify their aroma, Hamam/mortar is a bowl shaped vessel. The mortar was earlier made of stone and the pestle with stone or wood. From wet grinding dals for vada to pounding dried red chilies, one could manage many a kitchen chores with it.
Rotana ka Sancha – It is the traditional mould used for making Rotana.
Jaandru – This hand operated chakki (atta maker or grinder) consists of two circular stones and one thick stick for a handle. Ragi or koda or mandua flour is made from it. It takes a lot of muscle power to use this chakki.
Ginjali-Okhliyari – The traditional way of pounding & crushing masalas, chillies & rice flour by the locals of Uttarakhand. The system is made of of a big cement or stone hole and a long and thick wooden stick.
Channi – Channi is a sieve to drain out the water after rinsing vegetables and fruits.
Suppaa – Suppaa is sieve used for removing the dirt, stones from the raw food material like rice, dal, wheat, ragi etc.
Chulha – Chulha is a traditional Indian cooking stove used for outdoor cooking. Chulha is a U-shaped mud stove made from local clay.
Ringal & Dwarf Baskets – The ringal & dwarf are the varieties of bamboo plants in Uttarakhand and are used for making suppa, chatai, drums, chairs etc.
Mallu Leaves – Organic plates and bowls are made by stitching mallu leaves together.
Cast Iron Kadai – This strong and versatile kadai is a must for your kitchen to makes curries and vegetables. The dishes also get a lovely dark hue in a kadai. It requires very less oil to cook and is ideal for slow cooking and has great health benefits as it adds iron to the food.
Cast Iron Tawa – An Iron Tawa is a good and healthy alternative to toxic teflon coated non-stick pans and is used for making rotis, parathas and more.
More About Uttarakhandi Food | Cuisine of Uttarakhand
Dining & Eating Etiquette for Uttarakhand
Uttarakhandi households follows a similar or slightly varied dining etiquette as other states in North India.
Though certain dining etiquette varies regionally, there are many practices that are common throughout North India. Family dining is an established norm in most Uttarakhandi families.
Bringing and sending fresh fruits, sweets and food items as gifts to family members is a common practice in North India, particularly during the spring season. Food items are distributed among neighbours as well on special occasions and as a sign to show hospitality.
Invitation for meals – Invitation to a meal or tea is generally distributed few days beforehand & denying or not turning up for the invitation for no major reason is considered a breach of etiquette.
- The invited guest or elder person is given special respect and attention.
- The invited guest are requested to start the meal & it is considered rude if the host starts eating without taking into account the attendance of all guests.
- Table setting is done before the arrival of the guests.
- Family members or any occupants within one home make sure to eat together during the dinner.
- Hand washing prior to and after the dinner, lunch or brunch at any household of North India is a norm.
- It is considered rude to start eating food without asking others to participate in a meal.
- Use right hand for food intake and left hand for drinking water or drinks.
- Chewing food with one’s mouth open and burping in front of others is considered rude.
- The bread is eaten with the hands. Rice and desserts are eaten with spoons. Soup spoons are used for consuming soup and forks are used for eating noodles.
- Politely ask for the dish to be passed on instead of grabbing it from far across the table.
- DO NOT pass on your JHOOTA (food that has been in contact with your mouth) even to your family members in front of an Indian host.
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