Himachali food varies from region to region. The cuisine of Himachal Pradesh is largely based on the climate and topography of the state. While the everyday meal is the usual dal-chawal-subzi-roti, special dishes are cooked during festive occasions. Amongst festive food, the traditional meal, Dham (lunch served in traditional occasions) finds instant mention. The traditional Dham is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The dham offers one with an opportunity to be acquinted with the various delicacies of the state.
Dham is cooked only by botis (a particular caste of Brahmins who are hereditary chefs). Preparation for this elaborate mid-day meal begins the night before. The utensils used for cooking the food are normally brass ones. It is served in courses to people who sit on floor. The food is served on leaf plates called pattlu( in local himachal kangra language). The Dham includes plain aromatic rice, fried pulses or dal, spicy vegetable curry of red kidney beans and many desserts to satisfy one’s appetite.
The traditional dham differs in every region of the state. The typical menu for dham would start with rice, moong dal and a madra of rajma(red kidney beans) or Chole ( chik pea) which is cooked in yoghurt which is prepared in unique style by adding approximately twenty spices . This is followed by mash dal, topped by khatta (sweet & sour sauce) made of tamarind and jaggery, the dham ends with the mitha bhatt (dessert) (Bhatt means rice in himachali language) – sweet rice or mithdee (made of boondi or bread crumbs etc.).
Dham is a mid day meal served to the people in himachali culture on the occasions of marriage, birthday party, retirement party or any religious days. In dham firstly cooked rice and a type of dal called moong dal is served. After that a kidney bean shaped pulse known as rajma (madra) is also served and then palda, khatta, maa ki daal and At the end meetha bhatt which means dessert is served including kheer made up of rice, milk and sugar.
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