Wednesday April 1, 2020

Forgotten Himachali cuisine back home in Shimla

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Shimla: Be it chane ka khatta, kaddu ka khatta or sepu vadi, the authentic Himachali cuisine that has been losing its flavour in the hills has once again carved a place in the hearts of both the locals and the tourists with its authentic taste.

photo credit: www.tripadvisor.in
photo credit: www.tripadvisor.in

A young couple this month started a restaurant named Himachali Rasoi in the ‘Queen of the Hills’, as this town was fondly called by the British, to revive the traditional cuisine and make it popular once again among the middle class and young.

“The secret recipe of any good restaurant is knowing its customers and catering for them,” owner Himanshu Sud told IANS.

He said that even the locals were complaining that there was no restaurant in town which offered only Himachali cuisine.

“So we decided to start the restaurant which only offers Himachali vegetarian dishes,” Sud said.

The 25-cover restaurant offers lip-smacking and mouth-watering recipes of the Kangra and Mandi regions, popularly known as Kangri and Mandiali dishes.

The computer software graduate Sud and his wife Manisha, who was born and brought up in this town and looks after the restaurant’s management, believe that the restaurant would also help preserving the state’s traditions, culture and cuisine.

“I have no formal training in cooking, but I learnt the art of making dishes from my parents. My father is a great foodie. I also learnt a lot about cooking from my mother,” Sud said.

“I even got the opportunity to learn cooking from the ‘botis‘ (hereditary Brahmin cooks),” he added.

The food varies from region to region in the hill state.

“There is a lot of difference between Kangri and Mandiali dishes. But the common thing between them is the consumption of steamed rice.”

The main course of Mandiali dishes comprises rajmah, kale chane ka khatta (sour), maa ki dal cooked in spices and generous amounts of ghee, karahi, sepu wardi, kaddu (red pumpkin) ka mitha (sweet) and a bowl of rice.

The traditional dishes of the Kangra Valley have mandra (spiced vegetable and yoghurt curry), mahni (spicy sweet and sour curry), maah, chana dal (split Bengal gram with fennel seeds), budane ka mitha (sweet), rainthla (date and spinach curry) and rice.

Meethe chawal or sweet-spiced fragrant rice is a common dessert in Kangra.

Himachal Pradesh is known for its dhams or sitting together on ground on special occasions like weddings and festivals and eating without forks or spoons.

The food is served in ‘pattals‘ (broad leaves of a tree); rice first and then a round of other items.

The meal is prepared by the ‘botis‘.

The food is cooked and served in copper vessels which impart a special local flavour to the dishes. Even the traditional ingredients and species are used, Sud said.

“We are using only desi ghee (clarified butter) for the cooking,” he added.

There is one other attraction of the eatery. If you want to enjoy Himachali food by sitting on the ground, the typical way of eating, there is a rooftop with wooden floor.
For this you have to remove your shoes on the ground floor and climb a ladder holding on to a rope.

“The food here is really authentic and gives a taste of typically traditional Kangra cuisine, which was earlier missing in Shimla,” local resident Aditi Baniyal said.

FAQs

Where: Himachali Rasoi in Shimla’s Middle Bazaar.

A Kangri and Mandiali meal for two would cost around Rs.500 (without alcohol).

Timings: Open for lunch and dinner from 12 noon to 10 p.m.

(Vishal Gulati, IANS)

Next Story

No White Christmas in Shimla This Year Too!

They concluded that Shimla's harsh winter, which normally commenced in November and ended in March, has declined after the mid-1980s

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What's better than travelling to Shimla this summer
What's better than travelling to Shimla this festive season? Pixabay

There will be no “white” Christmas in Shimla and elsewhere in Himachal Pradesh this time too. A mellow sunshine will greet you throughout the day at most of the tourist destinations with the weather bureau on Tuesday predicting open skies in the state.

“There is no significant Western Disturbances active in the region. Most of the towns in the state will witness sunny days till December 28,” Manmohan Singh, Director of Shimla’s Met office, told IANS.

He said there are chances of rain and snow in the state on or after December 31 with active western disturbances.

Temperatures have been unusually low in most of the popular tourist spots like Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda, Kasauli, Chail, Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala, Palampur and Chamba.

Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti district, was the coldest place with the minimum temperature dipping to minus 12.4 degrees Celsius.

The night temperature in capital Shimla was 2.2 degrees Celsius, whereas Kalpa, some 250 km from here, saw a low of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius.

It was minus 2.8 degrees Celsius in Manali, 2.2 degrees in Dharamsala and 2.7 degrees in Dalhousie.

However, foggy conditions would continue in low hills, mainly in Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur and Kangra districts.

Una town, adjoining Punjab, saw a low of 6.4 degrees Celsius, 11 notches below normal owing to dense fog.

But excited holidaymakers, mainly from the northern plains, have already started descending on tourist resorts across the state with a hope of white Christmas.

Christmas
Christmas is celebrated every year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Pixabay

Shimla, which had season’s first snowfall this time on December 13, last recorded snowfall on Christmas in 2017 after a gap of over two decades.

“From tomorrow onwards, most of all our properties have been packed to capacity,” a senior official with the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) told IANS.

The HPTDC has 57 economy and high-end hotels across the state.

He said the arrival of the tourists in Shimla, Narkanda, Chail, Kasauli, Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala and Palampur is quite good.

The mountain peaks viewed from Shimla’s historic Ridge and Dharamsala and Palampur towns have been wrapped in a thick white blanket of snow.

Popular resort Manali is getting a good share of tourists as its nearby hills have plenty of snow.

Also Read: Vivo Refreshes its Budget Y Series in India

Snowfall has been eluding Shimla on Christmas since 1991 when 49 cm of snowfall fell on Christmas’ Eve. And except in 2010, there has been no white New Year’s Eve in Shimla in the past nine years.

Deforestation and pollution are blamed for the change in Shimla’s climatic conditions, says study by the India Meteorological Department.

A study conducted by Manmohan Singh, Director of Shimla’s Met office, and S.C. Bhan of the Delhi Met office, examined the snowfall trend in Shimla from 1990 to 2007.

They concluded that Shimla’s harsh winter, which normally commenced in November and ended in March, has declined after the mid-1980s. (IANS)