/body> >

Monday, 29 January 2018

Dham - Traditional food of Himachal Pradesh

Dham is a traditional vegetarian festive meal of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is a mid-day meal prepared on auspicious occasions , festivals , weddings, and other religious functions. Traditional Dham is served to people in Himachali cuisine on all such occasions typically on the floor in pattals (plates made of leaves). Himachali cuisine has a unique aroma and flavor due to use of lot of yogurt and spices like chilies, cardamom , cinnamon , turmeric and coriander powder. The food is typically cooked in mustard oil and on low flame. As availability of vegetables is a challenge in the hilly and cold region , the traditional dham has no vegetable dish in it and most of the dishes are made with different lentils and dairy products like curd, ghee, buttermilk , paneer (cottage cheese). The dishes served at a Himachali dham varies from one district to another , here i am sharing the dishes of the dham of Kangra District.


  I believe the people surrounding us do influence our lives with their thoughts, their way of dressing and their food too. I have learnt a lot of south Indian dishes from my neighbours during my stay in Hyderabad. Here in Mohali i have a dear friend , Garima staying in my society who is from Himachal Pradesh. I first tasted a typical Himachali food at her place. My hubby too loved the humble food full of flavors. I always found a mention of dham in her food talks .The foodie in me could not settle with just tasting the food, i kept on bothering her to tell me about all the dishes served at their dham. I jotted down all the dishes she mentioned with their recipes she could recollect ( for some recipes i referred to google and about a dozen of sites on Internet) , got the required ingredients and in her supervision cooked this utterly delicious festive meal at my place :)

The dham dishes included here are
  • Madra - a thick yogurt based gravy made from chickpeas
  • Kale chane ka khatta - A tangy soup made with black chick peas  
  • Maa ki daal - A creamy gravy of black lentils
  • Chawal - steamed rice
  • Mukund wadi curry - Sundried lentil squares cooked in onion tomato gravy
  • Matar Paneer - Cottage cheese and green peas curry
  • Kaddu ka khatta - A tangy dry Pumpkin vegetable curry
  • Bhey - A spicy Lotus Stem dish
  • Meethe Chawal - Flavorful sweet rice with saffron and dry fruits
  • Salad

I had prepared this dham 2 months back and was struggling to find time to write about it .I have about 30 recipes in my drafts , as i just love cooking and shooting but i feel writing is just not my cup of tea :(  Need some suggestions to work on this ...anyways, finally when the theme for #129th #FoodieMondayBlogHop was decided as  #Himachal Recipes , i could not delay this post any more. At first i thought i could pick up just one dish from this dham and write a blog post on it , but  then i settled with the the entire dham. ( the reason behind this is that , i am constantly learning and trying to improve my food photography , as a result of which after few days , the pictures i have clicked earlier fail to appeal me and i feel i could have done better and then i do not feel like posting it). I feel many of my blogger friends can relate with me on this feeling. So lets begin our culinary journey of Himachali Dham from Kangra District !

Chana Madra - Chickpeas in thick yogurt based gravy. 

Chana madra is a flavorful and lip-smacking rich yogurt based dish of Himachali dham. This popular dish is an onion garlic free chickpea preparation, cooked in ghee , curd , spices and dry fruits. Chana madra goes well with both chapati and steamed rice and makes for a delightful lunch. 


Preparation time: 8 hours
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 1/2 cup Chickpea (Kabuli Chana) , soaked overnight and boiled
  • 1 cup curd
  •  2 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick ( dalchini)
  • 4-5 black pepper corn 
  • 1-2 pods of green cardamom (elaichi)
  • Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder ( i have not used)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoon golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoon cashew nuts
  • Salt to taste

  1. Beat the curd using a whisker very well until it is creamy ,smooth and lump free. Heat a heavy bottom sauce pan and add ghee to it. Once the ghee melts , add pinch of asafoetida followed by cumin seeds and whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom , black peppercorn). Stir for 30 seconds.
  2. Next on low flame add turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder. Stir fry for few seconds. Now add the boiled chickpeas .
  3. Stir fry the chickpeas on medium flame for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Now again lower the flame and add the beaten curd while stirring continuously.
  5. Do not stop stirring or the yogurt will curdle. (Even if it curdles slightly don’t worry as the gravy will even out as the dish thickens eventually)
  6. Stir continuously for 7-10 minutes on medium flame .
  7.  Add sugar followed by raisins and cashew-nuts. Stir the mix well and cook until ghee separate outs.
  8. Now add 2 cups of water and allow the mix to boil.
  9. Now simmer for another 7-10 minutes. Keep stirring in between  to ensure it does not catch the bottom.
  10. Serve the delicious madra with steamed rice and enjoy with your loved ones !

Chane Ka Khatta : Tangy Black Chickpea Soup from Himachal Cuisine

Chane ka khatta is a traditional and very popular Himachali dish made from black chickpeas . Khatta  is a mildly sweet and tangy soup that is served with rice and is a part of the Kangri Dham ( Festive meal of Kangra District ) The dish is very flavorful and the recipe is very simple.


Preparation time: 8 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 cup black Chickpeas, soaked overnight , boiled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • Small piece of Jaggery ( gooseberry size)
  • 2 Tablespoon rice flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon dry mango powder
  • 1 teaspoon carom seeds
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 6 -7 cloves of garlic
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves
  • Salt to taste
  1. Take carom seeds and garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle , crush them with a pestle and coarsely pound the mix, to it add the green chilies and finely chopped onion, keep pounding the mix , now add fresh mint leaves to this mix and pound again until all the ingredients blend well. Add little salt while doing so. Keep this crush aside until use.  
  2. Heat a sauce pan. Smoke mustard oil ,allow it cool down a bit. Now add cumin seeds.
  3. Once the seeds crackle, add the pounded mix and salute for about a minute or until the raw smell of garlic and onions goes off. 
  4. Add turmeric powder and saute for few second. Next add the boiled chickpeas along with the water used while boiling them. Saute for few seconds.
  5. Now mix 1/4 cup water little by little in the rice flour in a bowl. Mix well to get a lump free slurry. Add this slurry to the sauteed chickpeas.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cup water and stir well.
  7. Allow the soup to boil.
  8. Season it with salt to taste ( be careful as we have added salt to the crushed mix) ,jaggery and dry mango powder. Give a quick stir and allow the soup to simmer for 7-10 minutes so that all the flavors blend very well with each other.
  9. Do a taste test of the soup , add more dry mango powder or jaggery as per your preference. The soup is more on the tangy side. Give it another boil and put off the flame.
  10. Serve the flavorful kale chane ka kahatta with steamed rice.

Meethe Chawal / Meetha Bhaat -  A flavorful and rich sweet rice dish from Himachal Pradesh loaded with dry fruits and ghee.

Meethe chawal or zarda pulao is a sweet dish made from boiled rice , sugar and is loaded with dry fruits and ghee. Saffron lends a rich flavor and golden yellow color to this dessert. Meethe chawal is usually prepared on festivals and special occasions and is a must in the dham of kangra valley. Traditionally first the rice is cooked till al dante and then sugar and nuts are added into it and simmered till done. I have followed the same method. 


Preparation time: 15minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

  • 1 cup any long grain fragrant rice / Basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 2-3 tablespoon ghee
  • 10-15 Almonds
  • 10-15 Cashew Nuts
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 4-5 green Cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 inch Cinnamon stick
  • Few strands of saffron 
  • Pinch of Turmeric powder 
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Rinse the rice and soak for 10 minutes . Add saffron strands to Luke warm milk. Keep aside until use.
  2. Cook rice in 3 cups of water in an open vessel until it is al dente. ( the rice should be 80 % cooked , but should retain its shape and should give a bite on chewing)
  3. Drain the rice in a colander and allow it cool down .
  4. Heat ghee in a wok. Add fennel seeds to it. Stir fry the seeds on low flame until fragrant.
  5. Now add the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Fry for few seconds
  6. Next add in raisins and nuts . Fry the dry fruits on low flame for about a minute or two taking care nit to burn them.
  7. Now add sugar and allow it to caramelize a bit . The sugar should not change its color to brown. Add 1/4 cup water and allow the sugar syrup to boil. 
  8. To this boiling syrup add the cooked rice followed by pinch of turmeric and saffron milk.
  9. Mix everything very well, taking care not to break the rice grain.
  10. Cover cook the rice on low flame for 8-10 minutes or until all the moisture dries up.
  11. Serve the flavorful meetha bhaat warm or cold.

Kaddu Ka Khatta  : A scrumptious tangy spicy preparation made from Pumpkin.

Kaddu ka khatta is a lip smacking pumpkin dry curry served as a side dish along with steamed rice. It goes perfectly well with phulka or chapati. The curry is cooked in mustard oil and whole spices like red chilly , cinnamon , cloves, fenugreek seeds , mustard seeds , bay leaves and cumin seeds.  Dry mango powder adds in the required tangy flavor to the dish. The dish is onion garlic free and very simple and hardly takes any time to cook. 

Bhey: A unique dish made from lotus stem , bhey is spicy and flavorful.

It can be served as a side dish with chapati or steamed rice. here thinly sliced lotus stem is washed, boiled and then stir fried with onion garlic and other spices to give a flavorful dish. Click here for the detailed recipe with step wise pictures.

Maa Ki Daal : A simple yet flavorful lentil gravy where whole black gram , soaked overnight are cooked in mustard oil with minimal spices and simmered until it blends well and gets a creamy gravy consistency. Serve Maa ki Daal with hot steamed rice or phulka and some salad for a soulful comfort meal.

Matar Paneer : Cottage cheese (Paneer) and Green peas cooked in a spicy Onion Tomato Gravy. Matar Paneer needs no introduction , this delicious dish pairs very well with both Jeera Rice and chapati. Click here for the detailed recipe with step wise pictures.

Mukundwadi , is the name given to sundried lentil squares . These lentil squares are pressure cooked in a onion tomato based gravy and is mildly spiced using whole spices. Adding little cream to the curry gives it a rich flavor .

Sending these flavorful Himachal Dham recipes to #129Th #FoodieMondayBloghop with #HimachalRecipes as theme for this week. Do check out my fellow bloggers post on this theme for some lovely Himachal recipes .

  I hope you would love to try out some of the dishes shared in this post. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us. Follow me on #Facebook , #Instagram , #Twitter and #Google+ for more recipes and new updates. 


  1. Simply superb, Poonam. I love how you take to the spirit of the theme. I was blessed to take part in a Dham and it was just fabulous!

    1. Thank you Aruna..lucky you to have been able to be a part of the Himachali Dham :)

  2. Oh, wow! The spread looks so delectable I'd love to grab a bite of it right away. :)

    1. Thank you Priya..i just wish i could send this platter to you :)

  3. Great Poonam...that's was the dishes I want to learned​ from you before leaving from ggn....u remember...thank you so much .... keep sharing.... always miss that time when we are together..

    1. Miss you too Harsha..thanks for the lovely feedback. I am glad you loved the post

  4. Amazing spread Poonam :) u just naiied it...totally dedicated to foodiemonday bloghop :) lovely

  5. As usual every step perfect and a beautiful thali setting!Kudos!Delicious recipe!

  6. Wow Poonam, superb share for the theme. Love all your thali preparations. You're so right how different people from different states influence our cooking.

  7. Awesome spread Poonam. Every dish looks superbly delicious.

  8. Simply amazing spread. So delicious. Awesome . Loved the way you presented.hatsoff

  9. What a brilliant collection, Amazing. truly outdone yourself dear.

  10. my neighbor is from himachl pradesh.. I tried madara and khatta at their home and trust me they have a brilliant chickpea recipe collection.. I am glad to see that you have shared dham recipe collection which is rare to find..thanks for sharing..

    1. Hi Priya !
      Thanks for stopping by my space to leave such a lovely feed back :)
      Yes Himachali food is full of flavors .

  11. You have done total justice to this theme. Such a wonderful and yummy spread Poonam.

  12. simply amazing pooonam.. .loved it ! :)

  13. A typical Himachali Menu consists of 5,7 or 9 famous dishes in himachal pradesh .The Menus served in lower parts of Himachal are different from the ones served in the higher tracts.Meat is usually avoided in traditional Himachali dhams.

  14. What an amazing spread...and a commendable effort !!

  15. I have no idea about these regional dishes. Looks delicious. I would love to try...

    1. Do give it a try ..I am sure you will love the flavors of this Cuisine

  16. What a detailed and elabroate post about the traditional Himachali meal, just loved every bit of it .

  17. Omg, this thali is just breath taking, so many delightful dishes. How rich and nutritious this thali looks. I dont mind inviting myself to your place Poonam, you have put loads of efforts, well done.

  18. Oh wow! That's a lovely platter and so great to read about another culture. Keep it up.

    1. I am glad you like the post ..thank you Nandita

  19. Simply superb Poonam, what an awesome post..all in one..loved it...I can related to what you said, even I have many drafts and when it goes to writing I feel no sometimes, and even for pictures it's like the same

  20. What a party for eyes and tastebuds! I love all the components of this amazing platter. 😍😋 I could eat this every single day and be very happy. 😊

    1. Absolutely Maria..we literally had a feast with this platter.

  21. What a perfect menu. All dishes looks so perfect and delish. Awesome share 👌

  22. OMG Poonam, how long did you take to make all this. Looking absolutely finger licking thali and super yummy.

    1. Bhavana .the whole platter was ready under 3 hours with just 2 burner gas stove. I feel if do a little bit of pre-planning and time management. We can work out such elaborate meals very easily.

  23. Wish I was there too enjoy this platter! What a great looking and delicious dishes, just beautiful!

  24. I never knew how delicious a veg Himachali platter would be. All the dishes looks so yummy.

  25. Always exciting to know more of our vast Indian cuisine!! Lovely spread; delicious and tasty!

    1. Thank you . You are right , Indian cuisine has so much to offer.

  26. Amazing... such a lovely spread of delicious dishes from Himachal..

  27. Very Nice blog....truly impressive

    Haisue Food

  28. I am really happy with your blog because your article is very unique and powerful for new readers.

    Bike Rent in Manali
    Bikes On Rent in Manali

  29. मुझे आपका कंटेंट बहुत ही ज्यादा पसंद आया है जिस तरह से आपने लिखा है एवम बारीक से जानकारी भी दी है