Traditional foods and beverages of Himachal Pradesh

Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge
Vol 6(1), January 2007, pp. 17-24
Traditional foods and beverages of Himachal Pradesh Original PDF
Savitri & Tek Chand Bhalla*
Department ofBiotechnology, Himachal Pradesh University, Summerhill, Shimla-171005, Himachal Pradesh
E-mail: bhallatc@rediffmail.com
Received 3/lugust 2006,‘ revised 28 November 2006
Himachal Pradesh presents anthropological, cultural, environmental and topographical diversity. lts reflection is seen in the variations of architecture of houses, clothing styles, food and food habits. The variations in availability of raw materials, environmental conditions clubbed with the time tested traditional knowledge and Wisdom have made the people of different regions of this hill state to formulate, develop and perpetuate the consumption of a wide range of traditional foods andbeverages unique to its places since ages. Bhatoaru, siddu, marchu, seera, chilru, manna, aenkadu, sepubari, patande, doo,b aari, doshu, malpude, babroo, bedvin roti, madruh, tchati, chmpu. sura, chhang, kinnauri, angoori, chulli, lugri. arak/am, mk, chukh and pickles (e.g. brinjal, lingri, bidana, peach, pear, plum, tomato, bottle gourd, etc.) made from different fruits and vegetables, etc. are some popular traditional products that are unique to the tribal and rural belts of Himachal Pradesh.
Some of these products, e.g. bhataoru, chilra and tchati constitute staple food in rural areas of the state while others are prepared and consumed during marriages, local festivals and special occasions, and form part of the sociocultural life of hill
people. However, the production of these foods and beverages is largely limited to household level.
Keywords: Traditional foods, Traditional beverages, Himachal Pradesh
IPC Int. CL‘: A6lK36/00, A0lGl/00, A0lGl7/O0, A47Gl9/00, A23Ll/O0, A23Ll/06

Himachal Pradesh is a state having number of communities, races and cultures intermingled together. The people of Himachal Pradesh have
developed traditional food processing technologies for preparing the foods from locally available substrates largely governed by the ethnic preference,
agroclimatic conditions, sociocultural ethos and religion. However, there may be local variation from region to region. A number of traditional foods are prepared and consumed by people in Himachal Pradesh for centuries, and these form a part of
sociocultural life of the hill people”. However, the production of these traditional foods and beverages has been limited to household level. The know-how of traditional processes and technologies involved in the production of these products has been transferred from one generation to another. The types of traditional foods and beverages of Himachal Pradesh are unique and different from other areas.
The paper deals with the indigenous knowledge of traditional foods and beverages prepared and consumed in various regions of Himachal Pradesh.
On the basis of the substrate used, the traditional *Corresponding author
foods and beverages of Himachal Pradesh can be broadly classified as (i) Cereal and legume based foods (ii) Milk based foods (m) Vegetables and fruits
(mainly pickles) based products (iv) Cereal and fruit based beverages, and (v) others.
Cereal and legume based foods Cereals and legumes meet a considerable
requirement of protein and carbohydrate of the local population. Wheat, barley, maize, buckwheat, rice and millet are the major cereals that are cultivated in
Himachal Pradesh. Traditional foods prepared from major cereals are common in almost all the parts of Himachal Pradesh. Some of them are used as staple
foods, while other are used as festive foods. Most of these traditional foods are based on rice, wheat and barley and some are also prepared from other grains.
These foods have been a part of staple diet in the rural areas of Himachal (specially the districts of Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur, Chamba, Shimla, Mandi, Kangra and Kullu). These products being highly nutritious, easily prepared and conveniently preserved are very popular among the rural populations. Following are the popular cereal and legume based foods prepared and consumed in different parts of Himachal Pradesh
(Table l).

18
INDIAN J TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE, VOL 6, No. l, JANUARY 2007
Product
A enkadu/
Askalu
Aet
Aktori
Baari
Babroo
Brrgpinni/pinni
Bedvin roti
Bhatooru
Borhe
Chhangpa
Chilru/ Chilte/ [war
Chhura
D00

Dosha
Gulgule
Khatta
Kha walag
Madrah
Marchu/P0ltu/
Pole
Mande/Manna
Malpude
Mangjangknri
Mar]n’nm’/
Mar/112
Patande
Tchhoso roll
Tchag
Tcung
Teliye mah
Th uktal
Tiskori
Warri
Siddu/khobli
Sang
Seem
Sepubari
Shunali
Table l—Traditional cereal and legume based foods ofHimachal Pradcsh
Raw material
Rice flour
Wheat flour
Buckwheat flour, buckwheat leaves, etl
Wheat flour
Wheat flour
Roasted barley flour, chhang/lasri
Wheat flour
Wheat flour
Black gram
Roasted barley flour, lassi, ghee
Buckwheat, wheat or barley flour
Wheat flour, chhang, lassi, spices
Sattu (roasted barley flour)
Wheat flour
Wheat flour
Gram, mango powder, walnut powder,
mustard oil
Sattu (roasted barley flour), tea,
ghee.
Kidney beans
Wheat flour
Wheat flour
Wheat flour
Buckwheat bran
Suttu, ghee
Rice flour
Kodra flour, fats
Roasted barley flour, chhang, ghee,
jaggery, ratanjot.
Wheat flour, fats
Black gram
Roasted barley flour, boiled potatoes
Wheat bran
Black gram and ash gourd/pctiolc of
Colrwasia.
Wheat flour, opium seeds, walnut,
spices.
Wheat grains, peas (Spiti), horse
gram, etc.
Wheat grains
Black gram
Wheat flour
Method
Made from rice flour slurry, festive dish.
Thin mties, madc during marriages.
Thick mties, staple food.
Thick paste of wheat flour cooked in water, eaten
with ghee.
Fried discs made from fermented wheat flour
sluny, festive dish.
Solid dough (uncooked) eaten during journeys.
Baked or fried roties.
Baked fermented roties, staple food.
Fried discs with hole in the centre, made from
fermented black gram.
Solid dough made by mixing sallu and lassi,
prepared during religious ceremonies.
Made from fermented wheat /buckwheat/barley
slurry, staple food.
Roties, snack food.
Solid dough (cooked), occasional food.
Deep fried spirals used as snack food.
Deep fried sweet pakoras made from fermented
wheat flour sluny, festive dish.
Cuny prepared during marriages.
Made by mixing sattu, tea and ghee; occasional
food.
Curry prepared by cooking kidney beans with
ghee and yoghurt.
Fried mties, ceremonial food.
Very thin roties, festive food.
Fried sweetened oval shaped disc, prepared
during marriages.
Thick brown coloured roties.
Sweet dish made by mixing roasted barley flour
with ghee and sugar.
Very thin Varies, festive dish.
Thick rolles, occasional food.
Hard solid balls prepared during religious
ceremonies.
Steam cooked wheat flour dough balls stuffed
with fat mixed with sattu, occasional food.
Semi solid.
Steam cooked.
Rolies, occasional food.
Sun dried solids.
Steam cooked fermented oval dish stuffed with
spiced paste ufopium seeds/walnut, etc.; staple
food.
Thick soup, prepared mainly during winters.
Starchy white solids, swcct snack food.
Sun dried solids/ deep—fried made from
fermented black gram, prepared during
marriages.
Small ball shaped solids, breakfast food
Area
Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Solan
Lahaul Spiti
Lahaul Spiti
Kullu
Kullu, Kangra, Mandi,
Bilaspur
Lahaul
Kullu, Mandi
Mandi, Kullu, Lahaul
Spiti
Kullu, Mandi, Shimla,
Kangra, Chamba
Lahaul
Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur,
Kullu
Spiti
Lahaul
Lahaul
Kullu, Kangra, Mandi
Kangra
Lahaul Spiti
Chamba
Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur,
Kullu
Solan, Lahaul Spiti
Bilaspur
Lahaul Spiti
Lahaul Spiti
Chamba, Sirmaur
Lahaul Spiti
Lahaul Spiti
Lahaul
Kangra
Spiti
Lahaul
Kullu, Kangra,
Mandi, Bilaspur
Kullu, Shimla, Lahaul
Spiti
Lahaul
Bilaspur, Hamirpur,
Mandi, Kullu
Mandi, Bilaspur, Kullu,
Kangra
Lahaul Spiti

SAVITRI & BHALLA: TRADITIONAL FOODS AND BEVERAGES OF HIMACHAL PRADESH 19
Most of the traditional foods prepared by people in
Himachal Pradesh are cereal based but some cereal
legume/legume based foods are also common.
Bhatooru, marchu and chilra are indigenous leavened
bread or roties and constitute the staple diet of rural
people in Himachal Pradesh (Figs l & 2). These are
prepared with the wheat/buckwheat flour dough or
slurry fermented with the addition of malera or treh
(which mainly consist of lactic acid bacteria and
yeasts), respectively. Siddu is a traditionally
fermented steam cooked oval or disc shaped dish
prepared in the rural areas of Kullu, Shimla and
Lahaul Spiti districts (Fig. 4). In many pans of the
state, aenkadu made of rice flour is a festive dish.
In Lahaul Spiti valley, the leaves of buckwheat are
mixed with wheat flour and made into cakes called,
aktori. Similarly tiskori and mangjangkori are thick
roties prepared from bran of wheat and buckwheat
grains. Tchog is a special kind of food prepared
during religious ceremonies (Fig. 3). Palande (a sort
of pancake) is a specialty in the Sirmaur area prepared
from rice flour. Gulgule, malpude (babroo) are sweet
snacks prepared during religious and marriage
ceremonies in rural and urban areas. Marchu /poltu /
pole are salted roties deep fried (in mustard oil)
prepared in Lahaul Spiti and Kinnaur districts,
especially during the tribal festivals of phagli, halda
and marriage ceremonies; is also presented to
relatives and friends while visiting them. Madrah of
Chamba is unique and is prepared during marriages.
For the preparation of madrah, rajmah (kidney beans)
are cooked properly and mixed with desi ghee, spices,
salt and beaten curd. It is cooked properly and served
hot with rice. Warries are also very popular in
Himachal Pradesh. Warries are prepared from black
gram and ash gourd (Benincasa hispida) / petioles of
Colocasia. These are spicy, hollow, solid balls used as
condiment in cooking with vegetables or rice‘.
Milk based foods
In addition to cereal and legume based traditional
foods, milk based foods also constitutes a vital part of
diet of people of Himachal Pradesh. Livestock are an
integral component of the agricultural production
systems in Himachal Pradesh. Traditional milk based
products (Table 2) are prepared from the milk of
several species of indigenous cattle, buffalo, sheep,
goats, and churu (hybrid of cow and yak).
In Himachal Pradesh, curd (dahi) is prepared and
consumed in almost every home in village, which rear
cattle. It is also called n00 or nuch in Lahaul Spiti and
doyang in Kinnaur. Curd is churned, butter is
separated and buttermilk (chha / boti / bot) left out is
relished as a refreshing drink. The buttennilk is
boiled, water is discarded and solids are dried to make
churpa or churpe in Lahaul valley (Fig. 5). These are
hard dried solids, Which are used in preparation of
soups. Kadi/ kadu or kheeru is a most popular dish
made in most of the parts of state. It is prepared by
cooking the buttermilk or chha with spices and a
small portion of gram flour (besan). This fonns a
carrier of main food like rice or chapatti. Nudu is a
ceremonial food prepared by cooking wheat flour in
milk with small amount of salt to be eaten with ghee
(Fig. 6). Similarly, kulu is made from buttermilk.
Tchaku cha (salty butter tea) is an indigenous drink of
Lahaul Spiti (Fig. 7). For its preparation, a special
kind of black tea is used which comes in bricks of
different shapes. Small amount of tea is added to
water and boiled for some time. Butter, small amount
of milk and salt is added and it is blended in
traditional vessels called dongmo (Fig. 8).
Vegetable and fruit based products
Plenty of temperate fruits and vegetables are grown
in Himachal Pradesh. Surplus produce of many of the
vegetables and fruits is processed for pickles.
Although pickles are produced in all regions of the
country, the pickles made in Himachal Pradesh are
unique and different (Table 3). Pickles from
vegetables and fruits like lingri (fern), bottle gourd,
pear, peach, plum, bidrzna, galgal, brinjal, etc are
prepared and consumed in various parts of the state
especially in Kullu district (Fig. 9). They are prepared
by natural fermentation of fruits and vegetables.
These pickles besides having nutritional value also act
as food adjunct and appetizers and add palatability to
the foods. Some locally available plants such as aan /
achhoka, prey, maslam, kachnar, ghandoli, lingri,
tardi and some species of mushrooms, e.g. kanifiu,
chhachi, pili chhatri, kalakra, siun, etc., which are
collected by the people from the forests during / just
after the rainy season and are used in preparing
vegetable curries.
Cereal and fruit based beverages
In some tribal areas of India including Himachal
Pradesh, the preparation of customary alcoholic
beverages and the consumption are pennitted at home
scale4. There are a number of popular cereals and fruit
based fermented alcoholic beverages prepared and
consumed traditionally in rural areas of Himachal
(Table 4). Some of the popular ones are given below:
SAVITRI & BHALLA: TRADITIONAL FOODS AND BEVERAGES OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
y \na.Iingri and peach
, £7‘; -“- ., _
Fig. 13 Dham: used in

22 INDIAN J TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE, VOL 6, No. l, JANUARY 2007
Table 2—Traditional milk products of Himachal Pradesh
Product
Churpe/churpa
Curd/dahi
./hol
Kudi/kadu/ kheeru
K ulu
Lassi
N udu
Rehru
T cha/cu cha
salt
buttermilk used as occasional food.
Ingredient Comments Area
Buttermilk Solids recovered from buttermilk, used in soups. Lahaul Spiti
Milk Thick gel used as savory. All over I-Iimachal
Buttermilk/curd Curry prepared by adding spices and boiling Mandi, Kangra
Buttermilk/dahi, hesan Dahi cooked with spices and besan. Kangra, Bilaspur
Wheat flour, buttermilk Semi solid dough prepared by cooking wheat flour in Lahaul Spiti
Milk Non-alcoholic fermented beverage. All over I-limachal
Milk, Wheat flour Semi solid dough, wheat flour cooked in milk, Lahaul Spiti
ceremonial dish.
Buttermilk, rice Rice boiled in butten”nilk4 Kullu, Mandi,
Kangra, I-Iamirpur
Milk, green tea leaves, butter, Salty non-alcoholic drink. LahaulSpiti
Table 3*Traditional pickles, vegetables and mushrooms ofHimachal Pradesh
Product
Pickles
Bidana (A rrocarpus Iackoocha Roxb.)
Brinjal (Solanum melungena Linn.)
Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea bntrytis Linn.)
Alef.
Galgal (Cirmspsedolimon Tanaka)
Ghia (Lagenaria siceraria Mol.) Sta.ndle
Lingri (Diplazium esculentum SW.)
Peach (Pmnuspersica Batsch)
Pear (Pyrus amygdalifor/nix)
Plum (Prtmus domestica Linn.)
Tomato (Lycopersicun esculentum Mill.)
Vegetables
Aan/Achhoka
(Urtica dioica Linn.)
Ambua/Khatiyai
(Mangzfem indica Linn.)
Ghandoli (Silene vulgaris)
Kachnar
(Bauhinia variegata Linn)
Lingri (Diplazium esculentum SW.)
Maslam (Burharea imernzedia)
Winter cress plant
Patrodu
(Calocaxia esculenta) (Linn.)
Schott
Prey (Eremurus himalaicus Baker) F oxtail lily
plant
T ardi (Diascorea bulbi/era Linn.)
Potato yam plant
Mushrooms
Chhachi /mogsha
(Lacmrius deliciasus Fr.)
Chhunchhuru
(Morchella esculenta) (Linn.) Pers.
Raw material
Bidana fruits
Brinjal
Inflorescence of
cauliflower.
Galgal fruits
Bottle gourd
Fresh fems stem.
Peach fruits
Unripe pear
Unripe plum
Unripe fruits.
Leaves of nettle
plant.
Unripe mangoes.
Leaves
(Cow bells)
Flower buds
Fresh ferns
Leaves
Leaves
Leaves
Tubers
Fruiting bodies.
Fruiting bodies of
morel.
Comments
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Semi solid mass
Leaves as vegetable.
As vegetable.
Tender leaves as vegetable.
Flower buds steam cooked and
roasted with oil and spices.
Fern used as vegetable.
Tender leaves as vegetable.
Leaves rolled with slurry of grz
flour steam cooked and then fri:
This fried preparation is used
snack food / eaten with roties.
Tender leaves as vegetable.
Vegetable curry.
As vegetable.
Fresh and dried fruiting bodies as
vegetable.
Area
Kullu
Kullu
All over Himachal
Kullu
Kullu
Kullu
Kullu
Kullu
Kullu
Kullu
Kullu, Lahaul Spiti
Kangra, Una
Lahaul Spiti
Bilaspur, I-Iamirpur
Kullu
Lahaul Spiti
Mandi. Bilaspur, Kullu,
Kangra, I-lamirpur, Solan
Shimla
Lahaul Spiti
Mandi, Kangra
Kullu, Kangra,
Chamba, Mandi,
Lahaul Spiti
Kullu, Kinnaur, Chamba
Contd.

SAVITRI & BHALLA: TRADITIONAL FOODS AND BEVERAGES OF HIMACHAL PRADESH 23
Table 3—Traditional pickles, vegetables and mushrooms of I-Iimachal Pradesh—C0ntd.
Product Raw material
Kant‘/”ru Fruiting bodies.
(Humaria hemisphaeria)
Peeli chhatri Fruiting bodies.
(Cantharellus cibarius) Fr.
Siun Fruiting bodies.
(Ramaria botrytoides)
Comments Area
As vegetable. Kangra, Mandi, Kullu,
Chamba, Kinnaur
Mandi, Kangra,
Chamba, Kullu,
Kinnaur
Kinnaur, Kangra,
Mandi, Kullu, Chamba
Vegetable curry.
Vegetable cuny.
Table 4*Traditional cereal and fruit based beverages of Himachal Pradesh
Product
A n goori/kl nnauri
A V/r/ara
Chhang/lugri
Chulli
Rak Wild almond (Behmi) apple, Darkbrownalcoholic beverage.
chu/Ii, etc.
Sm Chhang Distilled clear alcoholic beverage.
Sura Millet flour Brown coloured alcoholic drink.
Raw material Comments
Grapes Dark brown liquid, alcoholic beverage.
Apple, chulli, barley, pear, etc. Distilled clear alcoholic beverage.
Rice/barley Cream coloured alcoholic beverage.
Wild apricot Orange coloured alcoholic drink.
Area
Kinnaur
Kinnaur
Lahaul Spiti, Kullu, Kinnaur
Kinnaur
Kirmaur
Lahaul Spiti
Kullu (Lug valley), Mandi
Table 54Other traditional foods and beverages of Himachal Pradesh
Product
Chakti
Raw material Form
Jaggery Brown coloured alcoholic beverage.
Area
Kullu
Chukh
Geri/shukhal
Juma
T chat! Mutton pieces, churpa Soup.
Red chillies Red chilly source prepared in mustard oil.
Mutton Large boiled pieces
Sheep intestines Wheat/millet flour dough stuffed in sheep intestines.
Chamba
Lahaul Spiti
Lahaul Spiti
Lahaul Spiti
Sura is a millet (Eleucine coracana) based
fermented beverage mostly prepared in Lug valley of
Kullu district. It is prepared by natural fermentation of
finger millet (kodra/kached) flour. Flour is knead in
the form of dough and is kept for 10 fays in a
container. After l0 days half-baked roties are made,
put in to container and water is added. After two days,
dhehli made from traditional herbs is added and it is
kept for 8-10 days for fennentation. Sura is consumed
during local festivals like shoeri saja and marriages in
mral area in Kullu especially lug valley.
Chhang is an indigenous rice beer made in the tribal
belt of Lahaul & Spiti. It is a very popular traditional
alcoholic drink consumed during marriages and other
local festivals. It is offered to the deities and also
exchanged as an important gift during weddings and
other auspicious ceremonies. Chhang is an
indispensable hospitality beverage among tribal of
Lahaul valley, and is considered to provide protection
against cold during Winter months. The preparation of
chhang involves solid-state fermentation of cooked
rice and phab (the traditional inoculum) for 4-5 days.
After 4-5 days, it is filtered and filtrate is called
chhang (Figs ll & 12). Distilled form of chhang is
called sra. In Sikkim, similar kind of beverage is
prepared which is called bhaatejaanrs.
Apart from these, various fruit based fermented
beverages made from a number of local fruits are
popular in Himachal Pradesh especially in Kinnaur
district. Chulli, zmgoori / kinnauri, arak/ara and rak
are prepared by fermentation of Wild apricot, locally
available grapes, apple / pear and Wild almond
respectively. These beverages have been a part of
socio-cultural life of people in Kinnaur.

24 INDIAN J TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE, VOL 6, No. 1, JANUARY 2007
Others
Traditional foods and beverages (Table 5) using
meat are very limited, Juma is a favorite dish of
Lahaul Spiti prepared in winters. Wheat flour/millet
flour is mixed with spices and this paste is stuffed in
sheep intestines (Fig. 10). This is then steam cooked
and eaten hot with chutney or tchati (mutton soup).
Geri or shakhal is large mutton pieces mixed with
spices and cooked in water. It is also consumed
during Winters especially in local festivals (phagli or
halda).
Traditional community meals
In some regions of Himachal Pradesh (Kullu,
Kangra, Mandi and Chamba) during functions and
marriages, traditional community meal is prepared
which is called dham (Fig. 13). Dham is a traditional
festive meal, cooked only by botis (a particular caste
of Brahmins who are hereditary chefs). Preparations
for this elaborate mid-day meal begin a night before.
Food is cooked in big brass utensils and everyone sits
on the ground in rows to have food. It is served in
courses on pattals or leaf plates. The typical menu for
a dharn would start with rice and rnadrah of rajma
(red kidney beans) cooked in yoghurt in Chamba,
sepubari in Mandi district and mash dal in Kullu. This
is followed by kadi and a moong dal (green lentil
broth). Topped by khatta (sweet and sour sauce), the
dham ends with the mittha (dessert) — sweet rice,
liberally mixed with raisins and dry fruit.
Conclusion
A large number of traditional foods and beverages
are prepared in rural and tribal areas of Himachal
Pradesh. These traditional products are unique to
Himachal and some of the traditional foods still form
a staple diet of sizeable population of the state. Some
foods and beverages are also prepared during special
occasions and constitute an important part of culture
and tradition of the state. Cereal and legume based
foods and beverages are most popular followed by
fruit, vegetable and milk based products. The
preparation of most of these foods and beverages
involves fennentation of raw materials available in
the region. The prevalence of traditional foods in the
state is largely linked to availability of raw materials,
geographical barriers, enviromnental conditions, and
different ethnic and tribal groups. Traditional starter
cultures like phab (consortium of microflora), treh
(left over fermented wheat flour slurry) and malera
(left over fennented wheat flour dough) are used as
inocula/starter cultures for initiating fermentation.
Many of these traditional foods need to be analyzed
for nutritional and nutraceutical values.
Acknowledgement
The paper is a part of research work supported by
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
Extra Mural Research Section, New Delhi vide
sanction no (F. No. 9/237/80/2003 EMR-I). Authors
gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the
CSIR, New Delhi.
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