When you explore the cuisine of a place, you not only learn about the culinary habits of its people, you also learn about their culture and traditions. When you are in Uttarakhand trying different recipes, you find two types of cuisines, namely Garhwali and Kumaoni that are similar and different at the same time. Since Rishikesh lies in the Garhwal division of the state, you get to feast on Garhwali dishes, known to be delicious as well as nutritious. However, you will definitely find many restaurants and dhabas offering delicacies from the Kumaoni cuisine as well. While there are a number of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes that the people of Uttarakhand love to have, it is rare to find a meat-serving restaurant in Rishikesh
, since the city is considered sacred. Keep reading for an insight into the dishes of the locals and what makes them so special.
Garhwalis use gahat or kulath ki dal in many of their recipes. One such delicacy is the simple yet savoury gahat soup. It is prepared with ginger, garlic, black pepper and garam masala. During the winter season, locals also like to have gahat chapattis that are essentially flour chapattis filled with gahat paste. Gahat rasmi badi or koftas are also quite popular in the entire state of Uttarakhand. In Rishikesh, you will find many restaurants serving their unique versions of this Himalayan delicacy. Though phaanu can be prepared with a variety of grams like arhar and green mung, the local people prefer to make it using gahat.
An all-time favourite among locals, aalu ka jhol is something you will find in almost every restaurant here. Though it is a simple dish and can be prepared in about 15 minutes, it still tastes amazing with herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin seeds and coriander leaves. Prepared using black gram, chainsoo is high in protein. It is usually eaten with bhaat or boiled rice.
There is a host of condiments in Garhwali and Kumaoni cuisines, and the one item you will often find complementing your dish is bhang ki chutney. It is made by grinding red chillies with pre-roasted cumin and hemp (bhang) seeds together. Later, lemon juice and salt are added to the paste to accentuate the taste. At times, you will also find a hint of tamarind in it. Kacche aam ki chutney is a spicy, tangy dip made with raw mangoes.
If you have a sweet tooth, then again you will not return from your Rishikesh holiday dissatisfied. Among the popular sweet dishes in the city is jhangore ki kheer, made with jhangoras, sugar, milk, cashews, raisins and chironji. In it, soaked jhangoras and sugar are added to boiling milk. Kewra essence may be added for aroma, and various kinds of dry fruits are used for garnishing.
Though mostly same ingredients are used by the people of Garhwali and Kumaoni regions, many differences can be found in their dishes. One dish often seen in Kumaoni households is aloo ke gutke. While they are often served with rotis or chapattis (Indian bread), the dish can also be had as a snack. Another traditional dish in the region, bhatt ki churkani is made from black beans. If you are coming here in the winter season, you will also be offered sana hua nimbu and muli as salad, which is a mix of lemon, curd, radish and paste of bhang seeds.
Between meals, you can also gorge on dal bade, a popular snack in Uttarakhand. You can enjoy these crispy, appetising and gluten-free food items with a cup of tea. These are light and airy, quite similar to the South Indian vadas. Puas or kele ke puas are deep-fried dumplings of bananas. You can have these as snacks, or sweets after meals.
After you have savoured the various soups and snacks, you can relish singori – a traditional sweet in the state. It is made with khoya, which is thickened milk, and served wrapped in a maalu leaf. In case you are still craving for sweetness, you can have bal mithai. Made with roasted khoya, it is chocolate-like fudge covered with sugar balls. It is often served during the festive season.
These are some of the dishes that you can enjoy with Rishikesh packages
. A few good restaurants that dot the map of Rishikesh
are Little Buddha Cafe, Chotiwala, Oasis Cafe, Maa Cozy, Madras Cafe, Bistro Nirvana, The Sitting Elephant and Ayurpak.