Himachal Pradesh is known to have several scenic spots, magnificent views and delightful things to do but what few people know is that the food in Himachal Pradesh has its own allure. With influences from Punjab and Tibet, the food here comprises an interesting cuisine known as Pahari cuisine. This is a unique sort of cuisine, focusing on the usage of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and chillies and dairy products such as buttermilk, ghee and yoghurt. The result is that the food here is delicious and unforgettable.
Whether you’re eating in restaurants in Himachal Pradesh or grabbing a quick bite from roadside vendors, you will certainly enjoy the different tastes and textures of the food here. Since the terrain in the state is hilly and quite cold, fresh vegetables for cooking becomes a challenge and hence most of the dishes tend to be non-vegetarian or based on lentils. There are several restaurants here where you can get a taste of authentic Pahari food. Here are some of the must try dishes when you are in Himachal Pradesh.
If you are eager to taste the delicious food in Himachal Pradesh, it’s a great idea to book your trip through the SOTC website which has some splendid deals on Himachal tour packages.
Restaurants in Himachal Pradesh
Shimla’s Mall Road has several restaurants such as Cecil, serving Indian cuisine or Qilaa which serves Chinese, Italian and Lebanese food. Manali has restaurants such as Café 1947 or Drifter’s Inn and Café and most of these are geared towards pleasing the traveller who is looking for comfortable and familiar food.
However, for a taste of authentic Pahari food, do try Himachali Rasoi in Shimla or Mani Ram Dhaba in Manali. The latter is run by local village women and the food here is sourced locally, prepared fresh and absolutely delicious.
Dham is one of the festive dishes that can be enjoyed in Himachal Pradesh. It is a complete meal, often served on a plate of leaves and comprises of a dish of dal, rajma, curd, a sweet and sour sauce made from tamarind and jaggery and it is one of the dishes that must be served during festivals. Dhaam is made only with lentils and dairy products.
This is a local bread, made with wheat and kneaded with yeast and left to ferment. Sometimes, it is stuffed with boiled green peas, roasted nuts, paneer and it is sometimes par-cooked on an open flame and then steamed to complete cooking later. Sidu can be eaten with ghee or butter on its own or served with dal or mutton.
Some people consider the best food in Himachal Pradesh to be Madra, a curry made with cooked chickpeas and yoghurt. Assorted spices are sautéed in ghee or oil and then yoghurt is added to it. When that comes to a boil, the soaked and boiled chickpeas are added to it. The delicious gravy is served with roti or chapati.
A popular dish in Himachal Pradesh is Bhey, a dish prepared with lotus stems. Thinly sliced stems are washed, boiled and then stir fried with onion, ginger garlic paste, spices and gram flour which adds a crunchy texture to the dish.
The rainbow trout thrives well in the cold waters of Himachal Pradesh and it is no wonder that this is one of the famed dishes from the state. Marinated fish is shallow fried in mustard oil with minimal spices to retain the original freshness and taste of the trout. This is often garnished with a lemon sauce and served on rice or with boiled vegetables.
Most people concur that a list of food in Himachal Pradesh would be incomplete without mention of Aktori. A dish that originated in Spiti Valley but is enjoyed all over the state, this is a pancake or cake made with buckwheat leaves and wheat and often prepared during festive occasions.
This Pahari version of pulao uses lentils, potatoes and yoghurt along with the other ingredients that go into making a pulao. A spicy rice-based dish, this is often served with mash daal and a squeeze of lemon juice.
A common accompaniment to most other Pahari dishes, mash daal is made with split black lentils that are soaked overnight, cooked and then simmered with thinly sliced onions, ginger garlic paste and spices and tempered with mustard oil.
This is a Himachal favourite, especially for those who love non-vegetarian options. Marinated lamb is cooked in a gravy of gram flour and yoghurt. Plenty of Indian spices such as bay leaf, cardamom and chilli powder are used to add flavour to the dish. It is best served with rice.
Food in Himachal Pradesh has a lot of Tibetan influences, especially in places such as McLeod Ganj and Dharamshala which has a lot of Tibetan presence. While people can’t seem to get enough of momos, there’s also thukpa, tingmo, thentuk and luchi poti which is enjoyed in several roadside kiosks and restaurants in Himachal Pradesh.
Ever wondered if the kachori could be made better? Try the Babru, the Himachali version of the kachori which uses black gram dal as a filling and served with tamarind chutney. The crunchy babru will make you wish you’d known of its existence all your life. It’s often served with chana madra as well.
A popular dessert, this is sweetened rice mixed with raisins and dry fruits.