The cuisine of the North Indian state Himachal Pradesh has developed into a synthesis of Tibetan and Punjabi Cuisines – an unlikely fusion. This combining of two very differing styles has developed through the growth of the Tibetan and Punjabi subcultures found within the state.
Traditionally, Himachali cuisine is dominated by red meat and wheat bread. Thick and rich gravy, with aromatic spices, is used in abundance as the base of many dishes. Now, steamed momos (dumplings) and noodles are also readily available and popular with travellers who want to graduate to Indian food slowly.
Local delicacies include Madra, which is made from red-kidney beans or Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas) in a gravy of curd (yoghurt). Try this easy recipe for Madra of Chamba to bring a taste of North India to your home.
MADRA OF CHAMBA RECIPE
- 2 Small Bowls of Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas) or Red Kidney Beans
- 4 Bowls of Yoghurt (whipped till smooth)
- 1 Bowl Ghee / Clarified Butter (Not refined oil)
- 1 Teaspoon Aniseed
- 2 Pieces Black Cardamom
- 2 Pieces Green Cardamom
- 1 Small Piece Cinnamon
- 1 Leaf – Indian Bay Leaf
- Turmeric Powder
- Salt to Taste
- Sugar to Taste
- Additional – Dry fruits like cashews, almonds, grated coconut and raisins
- First it is necessary to prepare the beans. If you are choosing to use tinned chickpeas you can skip this step. Soak the beans in water for a duration of a tleast 8 hours (usually overnight works) before pressure cooking the soaked beans in some water for about ½ hour. Add salt to taste. Put your prepared bean base to one side.
- For the Curry, add ghee to a cooking pan and heat to melt it completely (you can also use clarified unsalted butter: Heat the butter gently until all melted and allow the milky solids to sink to the bottom. The clear top portion is now clarified and this can be used instead of ghee.) Add aniseed, black cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf and roast for till light crispy brown. After this, add the turmeric and shortly after, the beaten yoghurt. Briskly stir the concoction to mix well. The yoghurt tends to leave oil, so it is important to stir constantly with vigour so that the curd does not curdle.
- Sieve the beans and add them to the curry and cook on low flame for about 15 minutes. Add more salt to taste. A little sugar and dry fruits on top will add to the flavour of the dish. Serve with rice or chappatis.
Homestays offer fantastic home cooked cuisine for guests and hosts are happy to share recipes and even show you some of the cooking techniques. Browse our Himachal Pradesh Homestay Collection to find homestays where you are guaranteed great North Indian food!
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