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The preferred taste in Himachal varies from region to region. Non-vegetarian food, with a generous dose of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and red chillies, is very much the norm. The average Himachal kitchen churns out all sorts of meat, lentil and cereal preparations.
Simple Eating Habits Edit
However there may be local variations. For instance, in the barren regions of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti, there is more emphasis on locally-grown coarse grains like buckwheat, millet and barley. In areas with a pastoral tradition, milk and its products are liberally used in cooking. Himachalis are not particularly fond of vegetarian fare and till recently tubers like potatoes and turnips were all they ate in the name of vegetables. Green vegetables, however, are increasingly finding their way into Himachali kitchens.
While the everyday meal is the usual dal-chawal-subzi-roti (the common north Indian meal of rice, lentil broth, dish of vegetables and bread), special dishes are cooked during festive occasions.
Sidu is a kind of bread made from wheat flour. It is kneaded with yeast and the dough is allowed to rise for 4-5 hours. With a stuffing of fat it is first browned over a slow fire and then steamed. Sidu is normally eaten with ghee (clarified butter), dal (lentil broth) or mutton. In many parts of the state, ankalos made of rice flour are a festive dish. In the dry Lahaul-Spiti valley, the leaves of buckwheat are mixed with wheat flour and made into cakes called aktori. Patande (a sort of pancake) is a specialty in the Sirmaur area.
The dham — A Traditional Festive Meal Edit
Dham is cooked only by botis (a particular caste of Brahmins who are hereditary chefs). Preparations for this elaborate mid-day meal begins the night before. It is served in courses on epattalsi or leaf plates. In the Chamba region, the typical menu for a dham would start with rice, moong dal (green lentil broth) and a madrah of rajma (red kidney beans) cooked in yoghurt. This is followed by boor ki kari and a dark lentil (mash dal). Topped by khatta (sweet and sour sauce) made of tamarind and gur (jaggery), the dham ends with the mittha (dessert) – sweet rice, liberally mixed with raisins and dry fruit.gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg
Himachal Hospitality Edit
Himachalis are most hospitable, and inviting an ‘acquaintance’ (this could be someone they’ve just met!) home is a way of life. The host will then offer whatever food there is in the house, for they believe that a guest should not leave without eating. In case you have no time for it or turn down the offer for some reason, you will find something being stuffed into your bag – be it just green apples!
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