When one thinks of Uttarakhand, the ringed glaciers, picturesque canvas of the Himalayas, and pristine rivers strike to mind. Its snow-clad peaks of Kedarnath, Nanda Devi, and Dunagiri, the rivers like Ganga, Bhagirathi, and Alaknanda, a range of adventure sports and activities in Rishikesh, Jim Corbett, and Auli, the lakes of Nainital and mesmerizing Valley of Flowers draw tourists from all over the world.
However, what many tourists still don’t know is the local cuisines of Uttarakhand, which not only satisfies the taste buds but also boosts the immunity power of the body. The cuisines of Uttarakhand are simple yet incredible. The primary food includes vegetables with wheat being a staple for the locals. The food made with lentils and cooked over slow fire has a balanced flavor. The sparing use of tomatoes, milk, and milk-based products in cooking is what makes every dish unique.
Talking about the efforts put in by the Uttarakhand Government, Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj, said, “Uttarakhand has a repository of poly herbs, i.e. spices that are known for its therapeutic use and used by the Rishis and exponents of the Ayurveda for centuries. The treasure trove of immunity-boosting delicacies of Uttarakhand can derive huge benefits from Healthy Cuisine tourism. Our Government is therefore considering bringing culinary art to the front line of the state’s tourism sector. If the hidden treasure of cuisine tourism is explored and implemented efficiently and effectively, then within a short period, the state will place itself as the culinary hub on the global map.”
Dilip Jawalkar, Secretary Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, said, “The post-pandemic travel behavior analysis has brought Health & Wellness into the limelight, and the state sees a huge potential of immunity-boosting cuisine tourism in our state. The Uttarakhand government too has taken cognizance of it and is working towards developing the state as the hub of ‘Himalayan Immunity Cuisine’ by combining the rich heritage of Kumaoni and Garhwali cuisines.”
Some of the Garhwali and Kumaoni cuisines are:
Kafuli –One of the famous vegetarian dishes of Uttarakhand, Kafuli is a delicious dish enjoyed mostly in the winter season. It is made with spinach, lai, and fenugreek leaves. Generally prepares in an iron cauldron, the dish is complemented with hot steaming rice and also known as Kapaa. It is nutritiously enriched with nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamin C & E.
Pahaadi Masoor Ki Daal – Masoor ki Dal is another famous local cuisine of Uttarakhand. In terms of health benefits, it controls blood sugar levels, strengthens bones, and increases vision. The delicacy is generally accompanied by Desi Ghee, Chapatis, and Rice.
Bhatt Ke Dubke – Bhatt Ke Dubke is a traditional recipe of the Kumaon region. Enriched with high protein and fiber content, it is made with Bhatt or black soybean. Apart from its mouth-watering taste, it helps in healthy digestion, lowers blood pressure, and is a great source of vitamin E and amino acids.
Jhangore Ki Kheer – Jhangora is one of the types of grains found in Uttarakhand. It is used in the Garhwal region to prepare a delightful dessert. It has a rich texture with the goodness of milk and a unique taste to die for.
Bhaang Ki Chutney – Bhaang Ki Chutney is one of the most savored cuisines of Uttarakhand. It is prepared with roasted hemp cumin seeds with lots of lemon juice, chilies, and green coriander leaves. Served with other snack dishes to enhance the taste, Bhaang Ki Chutney is enriched with proteins. It has a fresh aroma and lingering tangy taste.
Kandaali Ka Saag – Kandaali Ka Saag is one of the popular Garhwali cuisine prepared in Uttarakhand. Kandaali, one of the famous local plants of Uttarakhand is used in preparing this cuisine. Kandali Ka Saag is enriched with iron, formic acid, Vitamin A, and fiber.
During the COVID era, the Home Stays have become an ideal destination for tourists as most of them are located in the remote locations of Uttarakhand and offer budget-friendly accommodation amidst the mesmerizing view of forests, hill, meadows, and starry night skies. These days the Home Stays in Uttarakhand are attracting a lot of tourists by showcasing their inventory to serve the delicious immunity-boosting home-cooked food and local cuisines prepared with the locally grown vegetables that are being served to the guests in a traditional style by the host family.
Anshul Bhatt, the owner of Forest Eco Resort in Rudraprayag, said, “Since the resumption of tourism in the state, people have started to demand healthy food. We have included the healthy ‘Maddue Ki Roti’, ‘Gulthiya’, ‘Jhangore Ki Kheer’ in our menu, and even serve local drinks prepared from traditional local herbs. We are using the local homemade ghee and pahadi salt ‘Noon’ to prepare our dishes. Tourists are more conscious about this now.”
The ongoing buzz around the immunity food has led many restaurants in Uttarakhand to prominently place the local cuisines of Uttarakhand in their menus. Local foods are finding their way to all kinds of different restaurants from fine dining to casual sandwich shops. These local cuisines are making these restaurants truly stand apart from the competition and offer exotic variations of immunity-boosters to the tourists.
Saakshi Bahuguna Raturi, the owner of Café Dindyali near Dehradun Airport, said, “We have the authentic Garhwali menu at our café where we serve local cuisines like ‘Kandaali Ka Saag’, ‘Kafuli’, ‘Meetha Bhaat’, ‘Chaisu’. We are promoting our traditional Garhwali foods and culture through our café and homestay. People are enjoying it and even thank us to serve them the real authentic food of Pahad since in other cafés of the city they have been bored of eating regular meals.”