Otherwise known as ‘the Land of the Gods,’ the north Indian state of Uttarakhand sits at the foot of the Himalayan mountains and is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. With such wonderful surroundings, it’s little surprise that the typical diet of Uttarakhand people is healthy, wholesome and nutritious. Most inhabitants are vegetarian, and consume an abundance of vegetables, pulses, soybeans and a coarse grain called mandua, which is high in fibre.
Two regions make up Uttarakhand – Garhwal and Kumaon – and both have their own unique take on the local cuisine.
In the Garhwal area, one of the most popular dishes enjoyed in many homes is Kalufi – a dish made with spinach and methi (fenugreek leaves), cooked in a thick gravy. The spinach and methi are mashed together and combined with green chillies to add an earthy warmth. Garlic and ginger are fried together in oil, before being added to the paste along with rice powder, cumin seeds and dried coriander. This is covered and cooked for ten minutes, before being garnished with ghee and served with rice.
Another delicacy in the Garhwal region is Phaanu, a lentil-based dish that is packed with vitamins and minerals. The traditional cooking method involves soaking gahat or arhar dal lentils overnight, before grinding into a paste with garlic, ginger and chillies. This is placed on a tawa (a griddle-like pan) over a medium-high heat to make pancakes, which again are finished with ghee and served with rice alongside.
In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, another widely eaten dish containing lentils is dubka. To prepare dubka, pre-soaked lentils (either Moong or Urad) are made into a paste, then warming ingredients such as green chillies, turmeric powder and mustard seeds are added. This is made into a soup-like dish with the addition of water, before being brought to the boil and simmered until the desired consistency is reached.
One dish that unites both regions in its popularity isRus, another lentil-based dish. Rus is actually made from a variety of different lentils and is mostly eaten as a comforting dish during the colder months. To make the dish, rice and lentils are soaked in water overnight. After this stage, the lentils are boiled until tender while the rice is ground to a paste. A separate spice paste is made with garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, cloves and black pepper, and this is combined with the rice paste, lentil stock and some other spices before being cooked for a further 15 minutes. To serve, fresh coriander leaves are scattered over the dish to add a fragrant, aromatic note.
It’s not always easy to find a range of vegetarian Indian dishes in your standard high street curry house. For a taste of authentic vegetarianIndian cuisine that’s exciting, delicious and packed with nutrients, cooked according to age-old recipes and techniques, make sure you get down to one of London’s high-end Indian restaurants from the Fine Indian Restaurant Group. The regional chefs at these establishments – including Amaya, Chutney Mary and Veeraswamy – create an exciting of array of dishes using the freshest of ingredients, served up in modern, stylish surroundings.