The snow-clad mountains, the lush green valleys, the freshness in the air, tranquillity in the environment, these are few things that describe Himachal Pradesh at its best. And, there you go missing a big surprise that Himachal has got for its loyal travellers. The scrumptious food. From the road vendors to the authentic cafes and restaurant, the Himachali people will pour their heart out in their dishes. So, on your next trip to this beautiful state do not miss out on some of the mouth-water dishes that they have to offer you.
Where to find? Chamba and Kangra
Madra is originally a delicacy that belongs to the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The dish mainly consists of the soaked chickpeas (chana) or vegetables. Cooked well in the oil and various spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, cumin, coriander powder and turmeric powder enhance the taste of this dish. Madra is one of the dishes that represents the food culture of Himachal Pradesh. Every restaurant, every occasion, and the festival will have Madra offered to you with utmost love.
Where to find? Manali and Chamba
Dhaam is a complete food that along with a great taste promises a healthy dose of nutrients. The dish includes dal, rajma, rice, curd, boor ki Kadi and is very well complemented with gur (jaggery). Dhaam is a plate full of delicious delicacies that are a must-serve on the occasions and festivals. The distinctive feature about this dish is that it is prepared by special chefs known as ‘botis’. To grab the best taste of Dhaam you must visit Himachal during festivals.
3. Tudkiya Bhath
Where to find? Chamba
Tudkiya Bhath is the authentic pulao of Himachal Pradesh that pahadi people cook in their own very style. What’s unique? The dish is not only cooked with Indian spices but an extra add up to the lentils, potatoes and yoghurt along with onion, tomatoes, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom provides this dish such a great taste that will make you want it again and again. For the best taste, Tudkiya Bath is complemented with mash dal and few drops of lime juice.
4. Bhey or Spicy Lotus stems
Where to find? All over Himachal
A famous dish of Himachal Pradesh that is fondly eaten in the households of the Himachali people. Bhey is a delicious dish which is prepared with the lotus stems. Thinly sliced lotus stems are then cooked in the ginger-garlic, onions and gram flour which adds the unique and great taste to the dish.
5. Chha Gosht
Where to find? Chamba
If you are a hard-core vegetarian then nothing can serve you better than Chha Gosht. A typical Himachal delicacy, Chha Gosht is a scrumptious dish prepared with the marinated lamb which is further cooked in the gravy of gram flour and yogurt.The taste of this dish is highly enhanced when it is well cooked in the Indian spices such as cardamom, red chili powder, coriander powder, bay leaf, asafoetida and ginger-garlic paste.
Where to get? Kullu
Made from wheat flour, Sidu is a local side- dish of Himachal Pradesh which greatly complements the main course of mutton or some vegetables. The preparation of Sidu is difficult and time-consuming, but for the taste that it renders, every minute of preparation is worth it. The wheat flour is kept for 4-5 hours for the yeast to settle down. Later, the dough is filled with fat and put on the direct flame to get the half-cooked dough. This partly cooked dough is then steamed to keep the taste and nutrients of the ingredients intact. Sidu can easily be found in the local restaurants of Himachal Pradesh to give tourists a flavor of Himachali cuisine.
Where to find? Shimla
Himachal have added a unique twist to popular Kachoris of North India. Babru is a flat bread which is prepared with the stuffing of black gram paste which is added to the kneaded dough. The crisp and the scrumptious taste that this dish has to offer will make you forget the conventional Kachoris of North India. Babru is best enjoyed with Tamarind chutney and it also complements the famous Chana Madra of Himachal cuisine.
Where to find? Lahaul- Spiti
Aktori is a festive dish which is very much enjoyed by the people of Himachal Pradesh during their festive time. Aktori is prepared in the form of a cake or pancake made with the buckwheat leaves which is further cooked in the wheat flour. Although, the dish originates in Spiti Valley but it is frequently prepared and fondly eaten all over Himachal Pradesh.
9. Kullu Trout fish
Where to Find? Kullu
Himachal Pradesh promises a great number of non-vegetarian delicacies. Kullu trout is a famous dish of Kullu region which is prepared with trout fish. The marinated fish is cooked in the minimal spices to keep the nutrients and the original taste of Trout intact. The dish is best coupled with the number of boiled vegetables, and hence it remains one of the healthiest delicacies of Himachal Pradesh.
10. The Tibetan dishes
The food talk of Himachal Pradesh cannot be completed without including the Tibetan cuisines. Being an important Tibetan colony, the regional food of Himachal Pradesh is highly inspired by the Tibetan culture. The best of which can be found in Mcleodganj and Dharamshala. Momos remains the all the time favorites of Himachali people that. Apart from that, Thukpa, Tingmo , LuchiPoti, Thentuk, Naizha Cake are some of the dishes that can be enjoyed in the kiosks of Himachal Pradesh.
Mittha is the sweet dish of Himachal Pradesh prepared on special occasions. It has sweetened rice mixed with dry fruits and raisins.
12. Kaale Channe ka Khatta
Where to find? Kangra
It is a traditional Pahari Dish which is sour in taste and is usually served with rice. This dish is usually served with Madra.
Now, you know what not to miss when in the region of Himachal Pradesh. These delicious delicacies just add an extra perk to your travelling experience. And isn’t traveling about experiencing the culture?
About Simran Gill
A Spanish student of Delhi University, who is always in search of gaining new experiences in life. Her love for traveling lead her to write travel blogs for holidify
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Himachal Pradesh, state of India, in the extreme northern part of the Asian subcontinent. It is bounded by the state of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, by the TibetAutonomous Region of China to the east, and by the states of Uttarakhand to the southeast, Haryana to the south, and Punjab to the west. Himachal Pradesh occupies a region of scenic splendour in the western Himalayas, offering a multitextured display of lofty snow-clad mountains, deep gorges, thickly forested valleys, large lakes, terraced fields, and cascading streams. Indeed, the name of the state is a reference to its setting; Himachal means “snowy slopes” (Sanskrit: hima, “snow”; acal, “slopes”), and Pradesh means “state.”
The city of Shimla was the summer headquarters of preindependence British viceroys; it is now the state capital and, at an elevation of about 7,100 feet (2,200 metres), one of the largest and most popular mountain resorts in the country. Formerly a union territory, Himachal Pradesh became a state of India on January 25, 1971. Area 21,495 square miles (55,673 square km). Pop. (2011) 6,856,509.
Relief and drainage
Within the diverse terrain of Himachal Pradesh are several parallel physiographic regions corresponding to the northwest-southeast-trending ranges of the Himalayan mountain system. The region adjacent to the plains of Punjab and Haryana consists of two stretches of the Siwalik (Shiwalik) Range (the Outer Himalayas) separated by long, narrow valleys. Elevations in the southern tract of the region average about 1,600 feet (500 metres), while in the northern tract they range between 3,000 and 5,000 feet (900 and 1,500 metres). To the north of the Siwaliks are the Lesser (or Lower) Himalayas, which rise to about 15,000 feet (4,500 metres). Within this region are the spectacular snow-capped Dhaola Dhar and Pir Panjal ranges. To the north again is the Zaskar Range, which reaches elevations of more than 22,000 feet (6,700 metres), towering over the other ranges in the region. Many active mountain glaciers originate in this area.
Himachal Pradesh has many perennial snow-fed rivers and streams, in addition to four major watercourses. The eastern portion of the state is drained primarily by the Sutlej River, which rises in Tibet. Draining the western part of Himachal Pradesh are the Chenab (Chandra-Bhaga), Ravi, and Beas rivers, which have their source in the Great Himalayas.
The Siwalik region has hot summers (March to June), with temperatures rising above 100 °F (38 °C), cool and dry winters (October to February), and a wet season (July to September), with rains brought by the southwestern monsoon. As elevations increase farther north, the climate becomes wetter and cooler. In the Great Himalayas, winters are bitterly cold and snowy, with temperatures dropping below 0 °F (–18 °C).
The population of Himachal Pradesh is composed of a variety of distinct ethnolinguistic groups and social castes. Among the most prominent communities are the Gaddi (Gaddi), Gujari, Kinnauri, Lahuli, and Pangwali. Many Punjabi immigrants have settled in the major towns and cities since Indian independence in 1947.
The vast majority of the population is Hindu, although Buddhists form the dominant group in the sparsely populated districts of Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur, both of which share a border with Tibet. The state also has small minorities of Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians.
Although every former princely state within Himachal Pradesh has a local dialect named after it, Hindi (the official state language) and Pahari are the principal languages. Both are Indo-Aryan languages. In Lahaul and Spiti and in Kinnaur, however, the most widely spoken languages belong to the Sino-Tibetan family.
Himachal Pradesh is one of the least-urbanized states in India. In the early 21st century its urban population accounted for less than 10 percent of the total. There are more than 50 towns, and the capital, Shimla, constitutes a city of reasonable size. The capitals of the former princely states, including Bilaspur, Mandi, Chamba, and Kullu, are now district headquarters. Dalhousie, Kasauli, and Sabathu are hill resorts of British origin. Kangra, Palampur, Solan, and Dharmshala are other notable towns in the state.
Agriculture and manufacturing
Most people in Himachal Pradesh depend for their livelihood on agriculture, pastoralism, transhumance (seasonal herding), horticulture, and forestry. However, the government of Himachal Pradesh has encouraged the development and dispersal of manufacturing, with different towns—mostly in the southern part of the state—often specializing in the manufacture of particular goods. The town of Nahan, for instance, is known for its production of agricultural implements, turpentine, and resin, while television sets, fertilizer, beer, and liquor have been among the major manufactures of Solan. Meanwhile, Rajban is identified with cement production, and Parwanoo is recognized for its processed fruits, tractor parts, and electronics. Shimla is also known for its manufacture of electrical goods, while paper and hardboard products generally have come from Baddi and Barotiwala. Alongside the growth of heavier industry, thousands of artisan-based small-scale manufacturing units have remained in operation across the state.
Resources and power
The state has implemented a series of development plans based on the utilization of its abundant hydropower potential and mineral and forest resources. Himachal Pradesh produces a significant portion of India’s hydroelectric power. Existing hydropower plants include a station on the Ulh River at Jogindarnagar, the massive Bhakra Dam on the Sutlej River, the Pong Dam on the Beas River, and the Giri Dam on the Giri River. Himachal Pradesh also has embarked on joint-venture hydropower projects with the central government, such as the large Nathpa Jhakri project in Shimla district. To combat a serious soil-erosion problem in the Siwaliks and to protect the fragile Himalayan ecosystem, the state has launched a reforestation program. It also has instituted stricter enforcement of environmental laws.
Despite its remote location, Himachal Pradesh has a reasonably well-developed infrastructure that not only has aided domestic mobility but also has helped in the promotion of tourism. Scenic narrow-gauge rail lines run from Kalka to Shimla and from Pathankot (in Punjab) to Jogindarnagar. There also is a railhead in Una. Roads, however, crisscrossing through the ranges and valleys, serve as the communications lifeline of Himachal Pradesh; the state operates many bus routes throughout the network. Regular domestic air service is available in Shimla and Kullu.
Government and society
The basic governmental structure of Himachal Pradesh, like that of most other Indian states, is determined by the national constitution of 1950. The state government is led by a governor, appointed by the president of India. The Council of Ministers, headed by a chief minister and responsible to the directly elected Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha), assists and advises the governor.
The state is divided into a number of districts, each of which is headed by a deputy commissioner. The districts, in turn, comprise several subdivisions, which embrace several more levels of local administration. The smallest (and most numerous) administrative unit is the village.
Since the late 20th century, Himachal Pradesh has made great efforts to expand education. Consequently, there has been a remarkable rise in the number of primary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions and a corresponding increase in enrollment at all levels.
Himachal Pradesh University, founded in 1970 in Shimla, was the state’s first institution of higher education; it now has dozens of affiliated or associated colleges. Other major tertiary institutions include a medical college in Shimla, an agricultural university in Palanpur, an engineering college in Hamirpur, a university of horticulture and forestry near Solan, and a university of information technology, also in Solan district. In addition to its universities and colleges, Himachal Pradesh has some important research centres, most notably the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla and the Central Research Institute in Kasauli.
The fairs and festivals of the rural communities provide many occasions for song, dance, and the display of colourful garments. The Kullu valley, known as the valley of the gods, provides the setting for the Dussehra festival held each autumn to celebrate the defeat of the demon king, Ravana, by the prince Rama (as recounted in the ancient Hindu epic the Ramayana). During the festival, the various temple gods are carried in procession in covered palanquins, accompanied by bands of singers and dancers. Participants in this and other such celebrations are typically decked in vibrant attire, often accented with exquisitely designed shawls from Kinnaur district, finely embroidered handkerchiefs from Chamba, or distinctive woolen caps from Kullu.
Pilgrims from neighbouring states and from within Himachal Pradesh itself converge in large numbers to worship at shrines of legendary antiquity. The town of Dharmshala has more recently emerged as a sacred site, particularly for Tibetan Buddhists; it was in Dharmshala that the Dalai Lama settled after he fled from Tibet in 1959 in the wake of China’s occupation of Lhasa.
Aside from their festivals and sacred sites, the Shimla hills, the Kullu valley (including the town of Manali), and Dalhousie are popular tourist destinations, especially for outdoor recreation. Indeed, skiing, golfing, fishing, trekking, and mountaineering are among the activities for which Himachal Pradesh is ideally suited.
The history of this mountainous state is complex and fragmented. It is known that a number of so-called Aryan groups filtered into the more productive valleys during the Vedic period (c. 1500 to 500 bce) and assimilated the pre-Aryan population. Later, successive Indian empires—such as the Mauryan (c. 321–185 bce), the Gupta (c. 320–540 ce), and the Mughal (1526–1761), all emerging in the Indo-Gangetic Plain—sought to exercise varying degrees of control over trade and pilgrimage routes into the area and between India and Tibet across the Himalayas.
The remote, predominantly Buddhist area that is now the district of Lahaul and Spiti was controlled by Ladakh from the decline of the Mughal Empire (about the mid-18th century) until the early 1840s, when it briefly came under Sikh rule. Also during this period, warring semiautonomous petty rulers controlled the trade routes, as well as desirable segments of agricultural and pastoral land, in the other areas of present-day Himachal Pradesh. British domination of this region followed the Sikh Wars of the 1840s and continued, directly or indirectly, for the next 100 years.
Around the time of Indian independence in 1947, there was a popular movement to end feudalism in the region, and the princely state of Suket virtually surrendered to peaceful demonstrators. Subsequently, Himachal Pradesh was constituted as a province in 1948. It consisted of 30 princely states and was administered by a chief commissioner, who represented the government of India.
Between 1948 and its achievement of statehood in 1971, Himachal Pradesh went through various changes in size and administrative form. It became a substate under the Indian constitution of 1950. In 1954 it joined with Bilaspur (a former Indian state and then a chief commissioner’s province), and in 1956 it became a union territory. Himachal Pradesh was enlarged in 1966 by the merger and absorption of numerous Punjab hill areas, including the regions surrounding Shimla, Kangra, and Kullu; the district of Lahaul and Spiti; and parts of the districts centred at Ambala, Hoshiarpur, and Gurdaspur. Early in 1971, Himachal Pradesh became the 18th state of India; Y.S. Parmar, who since the 1940s had been a leader in the quest for self-government in Himachal Pradesh, became the state’s first chief minister.Chakravarthi RaghavanSurinder M. Bhardwaj