Taste authentic Garhwali cuisine at our homestay. Garhwali cuisine is a forgotten saga and is preserved only by old garhwali people who don't want to loose on their cuisine heritage. The food consists of various traditional dishes such as arhar dal, aromatic with jumbu ka tadka, earthy tukulu (pumpkin) greens speckled with crunchy jakhiya, gheewalli rotis hot off the tava, pungent mustard infused raita, spicy chullu (apricot) chutney, a piquant achaar and steaming hot rice drenched with ghar ka ghee. Garhwali meals are healthy, with a balanced use of fats; ghee to temper lentils, mustard oil for greens and vegetable oil for other dishes. Spices used are minimal. Garlic, ginger, chillies, asafeotida are favoured. A few local indigenous spices make Garhwali food distinctive. Jakhiya, a tiny seed resembling mustard is used in much the same way to temper dishes, adding delightful, nutty crunch. And jambu aka pharan, a chive-like herb is popular for tempering dals. Bhaang (hemp) and bhanjeera seeds, are also used in some dishes and chutneys.
The starch content of the cuisine comes from traditional grains like jhangora (barnyard millet) made into savoury and sweet porridges. Mandua (finger millet) flour made into rotis (flatbreads) and unpolished red rice. Corn, wheat flour and white basmati rice came later. A staggering variety of pulse, lentil and lentil preparations contribute protein. Summer calls for light, easily digested dals like mung, arhar (pigeon pea), malka (split deskinned masoor) and channa (split chickpea). Come winter and heavier dals like urad (black gram), rajma, pahadi tor (pigeon pea), gehat (horsegram) and bhaatt (local soyabean) attributed with warming properties become prevalant. Lentils and pulses are also used to make unique local preparations like chainsoo, a deliciously textured thick smoky gravy of roasted dal and phanu, a textured aromatic gravy made from soaked crushed dal. Urad dal is extremely important to Garhwali culinary culture and urad ki pakodi (lentil fritters) are ubiquitous to all celebratory occasions.
Vegetables play an important part in Garhwali meals in the form of raitas, chutneys and subzis. Some may simply be tempered with jakhiya and chilies in mustard oil. Others cooked into simple gravy preparations called jhols. Lauki (white gourd), tori (ridge gourd), leafy greens like chawlai (amaranth), kaddu (green pumpkin), tukkulu and other regular vegetables are eaten in summer. The monsoon, brings colocassia leaves made into delicious patyud (the Gahrwali version of the patod/patra). Winter brings leafy greens like methi (fenugreek leaves), mooli ke patte (radish leaves), rai (mustard greens), and more. Pahadi palak (local spinach) is a particular favourite in the winter and is cooked into subzi and signature dishes like kafuli, a gravy thickened with rice or chicpea flour and dhabadi made with arhar dal. Thincwani is a popular vegetable preparation made of pahadi mooli (round white raddish) that is ‘thinchaoed’ or bashed up and cooked into a delicious gravy.
Meals are also often supplemented with foraged foods like kandalee/ bicchu ghas (stinging nettle), lingde/khutde (fiddle head ferns), bedu (wild figs) and more. Interestingly, JW Marriot Mussourie has kandalee on its menu. “We grow it and often feature it on our menus. It does require special handling as it causes itchiness of the skin and throat. We harvest it with tongs, char and blanch it to remove poisonous spines and cook it into subzi. But it is worth it, as it is very tasty to eat” shares Siddharth Bharadwaj, Executive Chef, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa.
Due to the problem of migration most of the Garhwali people have migrated to the bigger cities such as Dehradun and Rishikesh. The mountain community mixed with the local community and in this way their food also got changed, more north Indian. The purity, freshness and taste of the local cuisine got lost owing to the unhealthy modern ways of eating such as fast food. This is our small effort to revive our old cuisine tradition along with a feeling of eating together in a family environment.
Garhwalis have a very sweet tooth. Kheers and halwas redolent of ghee and lots of love abound. Festivals feature special foods, gujiyas for Holi, Diwali starts with keel patasha. Weddings call for balushai, chenamurkhi, rabri malpua, and piles and piles of roat and aadse. And there are sweets that come from sweetshops. All made of reduced milk, ‘Chaclate’ and bal mithai are a sort of fudge, the last is crusted with beads of sugar. And in the winter you might be fortunate enough to find singhori (sweets molded into cones made of aromatic indigenous leaves called malle ke patta).
An amazing opportunity to pamper your taste buds with pure organice and traditional dishes.