Royal Kitchens of Jammu – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism
Priti Singh, Dr. LK Sharma
“Food is our tradition, it’s something sacred. It’s not about nutrients and calories, it’s about sharing. It’s a matter of honesty. It’s about identity” – rightly mentioned by Dutch scientist Louise Fresco.
As everyone knows India is the mainland and diversity whether in food, clothes, cultures or languages. Personified as the diverse state, India is quite widely known for its poly culinary art reminiscent of “unity is diversity”. By being verbalized on food, Indian cuisine shows its diversity according to the directions of the country i.e. east, west, north and south. It is North Indian food that constantly strikes in the mind and particularly Punjabi cuisines take hold of the top pedestal eclipsing the cuisines of other North Indian states. Besides, the variety of cuisines of Jammu and Himachal Pradesh are mostly underestimated.
Jammu and Kashmir is India’s northernmost UT. It is a mountainous region in the northern Himalayas with vast valleys, beautiful lakes and snowy landscapes dotted with temples. It follows the Himalayan and Dogri culture as in the Jammu division.
With a name that translates to “abode of snow”, Himachal Pradesh is a state in northwestern India with opportunities to experience the Himalayan mountain range. Visitors typically come to the region to experience the mountain scenery, engage with Tibetan culture, and learn about the region’s ancient past. Himachal Pradesh in general follows a Pahadi culture where Gaddis, Bakarwals, Rajputs and many others live together and have much simpler eating habits than other states in the country. The culinary arts of Jammu and Himachal Pradesh are mutually incompatible in variant cuisines but interchangeable in terms of ingredients and nomenclature either way.
First, a few sparks of light should sparkle on the variety of dishes prepared in Jammu. Illustrious dishes of Jammu culture are Ambal, Rajma Chawal, Kachalu Kulcha, Patisa, Kaladi Kulcha, Maa da madra, Kulthein di Dal and Chaap. Ambal is a dish originating from Jammu region only. It offers the amalgamated taste of pumpkin, tamarind, jaggery, fenugreek seeds and red chili peppers. This is usually done in a cast iron utensil on ‘Chulha’ with the wooden flames which add the smoky flavor to the dish. It is remarkably served during ‘Dhavats’ vernacularly known as ‘Taam’ along with chana and maah dal. One of the best rajmas (kidney beans) is said to be grown in the Dodakishtwar-Ramban belt of Jammu region. Peerah, a small village in Ramban district on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, is very famous for the Rajma-Chawal people who come doused in pure desi ghee. Rajma chawal is served with a tangy anardana chutney. The rajmas grown in the Doda district are smaller than most of the rajma grown in the plains.
Taste buds fire upon hearing the word “Street food”. Street food in Jammu is not that huge but quite admits variations like kalhadi kulcha which is given a personification of a burger which includes bread, morzerella like cheese made from goat’s milk or beef and cooked vegetables. This dish owes its origin to Udhampur of Jammu. Another great snack is kachalu chaat, which offers a combined taste of lemon, red pepper flakes, black-eyed beans, and tamarind in the best possible way. Coming to Chaap is a king of simulated meat or vegetarian/vegan meat prepared with soy chunks and flour. Malai chaap is usually preferred over other chaap vegetables like tandoori chaap, malai tikka chap, malai chaap afghan and many more.
No meal can end its existence without a succulent dessert. “Always save room for dessert” is said invariably. Jammutees’ homemade dessert is ‘Patisa’, a cuisine close to that more commonly known as ‘Soan papdi’. This is prepared by the legendary Prem Sweets of Qud, Jammu.
State the cuisines of Himachal Pradesh outright, red meat and wheat bread traditionally dominate this category. A thick, rich sauce, with aromatic spices, is used abundantly as the base of many dishes. “Dham” is the traditional food served at weddings or other functions. It is an Ayurvedic and nutritional harmonizing complete food. Ethnic foods include rajmah madra, kadi, khatta, sepu badi, etc., exhibit a treasure trove of food heritage and are an integral part of the diet of people in the state. Khatta chana is one of the most popular dishes of Himachal which forms an integral part of the traditional thali called ‘Dham’.
Another cuisine offering taste sensations is ‘Madra’, an original specialty that belongs to the ‘Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh’. The dish mainly consists of chickpeas soaked (chana) or vegetables well cooked in oil and various spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander powder and turmeric powder enhance the taste of this dish. Street food made from wheat flour, ‘Siddu’ is a local Himachal Pradesh side dish that greatly complements the main course of some vegetables. Its formulation is difficult and time-consuming, but for the taste it gives every minute of preparation is worth it. Afters include ‘Mittha’ which is prepared on special occasions. It has sweet rice mixed with dried fruits and raisins.
North India grows a lot of wheat, so breads like naan and roti are common, while rice and lentils dominate in other cuisines. These North Indian cuisines have a low calorific value, which forces our body to be automatically fit. Precisely, the cuisines of Jammu and Himachal Pradesh are similar in ingredients but have a slight deviation in terminology and the way they are prepared. Their daily food bears some similarity to other northern Indian states. They too have lentil broth, rice, vegetables and bread.
There was a time when Himachali women woke up at four o’clock to prepare authentic cuisines such as siddu for their families. But what has changed in a decade is that the whole situation has dynamically transformed. People are so busy with their daily chores that they only depend on instant food, but “food” is an experience to be explored and enjoyed by rich and poor alike.
Life is like ‘Indian food’ different spices are mixed to make food tastier just like this: – love, joy, sadness, troubles are there in life to make life more interesting. – Bismaye Barik.
(The author is Ph.D Scholar, SKUAST- Jammu and Associate Professor, SKUAST, Jammu)