It is very difficult to separate ‘Kangri Dham’ from Himachali traditions, as Dham is an integral part of Himachali tradition. Dham, in the local language of Himachal Pradesh, is the word for an elaborate lunch, often served during celebrations such as weddings, birthdays and other joyous occasions. It provides an excellent opportunity to taste some of the best Himachali cuisine.
Kangri Dham is usually a vegetarian meal, carefully prepared by Brahmin cooks known as ‘Boti’ on special occasions. The dishes served in Himachali Dham vary from one district to another.
In Kangra district, Rajma Madra, Chana ka Khatta, and Sweet Rice stand out as popular favorites. The key to the uniqueness of Kangri Dham lies in the precise mixing of the spices and the special utensils used for preparation. This feast, known as Dham, starts around noon and continues till 4 pm.
Kangri Dham Menu
Notable dishes prepared in Kangri Dham include –
- Madra of Mukand Badi
- Peas and Cottage Cheese
- Madra of Rajmah (Kidney Beans)
- Bengal Gram Lentil
- Dates Sweet and Sour Raita
- Urad Dal
- Khatta (Chana/boondi)
- Sweet Rice
Cooking Recipe in Kangri Dham
Kangri Dham is traditionally cooked in mustard oil and most dishes are served with curd.
The cooking process for Kangri Dham begins a day before the feast in copper vessels, known as ‘Charoti‘. These utensils, with their unique blend of spices, hide the secret of the aromatic and delicious essence of the food.
Onion, tomato and garlic have no place in Kangra Dham; Instead, Curd is used to make gravy. Curd aids digestion, making it a favorite ingredient.
A distinctive aspect of Kangra Dham is the way of serving. Food is enjoyed sitting in rows on the floor and eating from handmade leaf plates. Food is usually served by ‘Botis‘. Everyone is served equally, and everyone gets up together when the meal is over.
The meal of Kangari Dham starts with Plain Rice and Green Chillies, followed by several side dishes.
One of the most interesting dish is Sepu Vadi, where small pakodas made from white lentils are boiled and then deep fried in mustard oil before being cooked in spinach gravy.
For me, the star dish is ‘Khajoor ki Kadhi’, which is made from Dried Dates. Roasted walnuts further enhance the taste of Dates Curry.
Finally, the meal concludes with “Sweet Rice” mixed with copious amounts of ghee, saffron and dry fruits. In some cases red or yellow color is also used.
Kangri Dham Utensils
The utensils used for cooking in Kangri Dham are called ‘Charoti‘. These are compact, round copper utensils that help keep food hot for a long time. It is slow cooked over a wood fire in a kitchen (Rasiyalu). For which generally a trench of 6x2ft is made.
History of Kangri Dham
The history of Kangri Dham dates back to about 1,300 years when Jaistambh, the then ruler of Himachal Pradesh, was so fond of Kashmiri cooks that he ordered his cooks to prepare balanced meals without using meat. This led to the development of a new menu in Himachali cuisine, which eventually became known as Dhaam.
Initially, Dham was served exclusively as temple offerings. Therefore, special Brahmin communities were allowed to prepare it. The entire meal is completely vegetarian, meaning no onion, garlic or ginger is used in its preparation. With time, the Dham became a major center for celebrating unity and tradition at weddings and family functions.
Kangri Dham FAQs
1: What is the importance of Kangri Dham in Himachali culture?
Kangri Dham is the cornerstone of Himachali festivals. It symbolizes communal harmony and is often served during weddings, festivals and other special occasions.
2: Is Kangri Dham popular only in Himachal Pradesh?
While its roots are in Himachal Pradesh, its fame has spread far and wide. It is now recognized and appreciated by culinary lovers all over the world.
3: What is Kangri Dham?
Kangri Dham is a traditional ‘Vegetarian Food‘ of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is prepared on special occasions by Brahmin cooks, called “Boti”.
Kangri Dham goes beyond the scope of food; It is a symbol of tradition, culture and culinary expertise. This Himachali masterpiece invites you to take part in a sensory journey that celebrates the flavors and heritage of the region. Experience its magic and let your taste buds take you on an unforgettable adventure.