Kumaon is the land of the mighty Himalayas in the north of India, where the food is fit only for the Gods – its simple, pure and nutritious. Nature has bestowed on this land (Uttarakhand State) millions of species of herbs, edible roots, wild berries, green leave and legumes.
A heat inducing winter appetizer high in Vitamen C is ‘Sana Hua Nimbu’ made from local lemons, jaggery, paste of marijuana seeds, mint and green chilies, all whipped up with curd. All you have to do is slurp it in as the sweetness of jaggery balances the tangy lemon chunks in the mouth.
The people of Kumaon have a predominant vegetarian palate. Curries and legumes rich in iron are cooked over wood-fire for hours, infused with pungent herbs-jambu, jhakeya, gandherni and Bhanga which is marijuana seeds great as a relish- a rare experience to savour.
Gauhat is one legume that is so warm in its efficacy that it is known to melt the gall bladder stones in the human body and was used to blast rock mines. The rice grown in this region is coarse and sweet to taste.The beauty of rawness!
If you live in one of the greenest state of India, then kaapha a spinach and herbs combination,is a must to try with rice. These preparations are almost black in color after hours of slow cooking till the green takes in the iron content of the pot. Very high in nutrition to be had with piping hot rice.
A really pungent preparation is the Kheere ka raiyta – cucumber, whipped curd, crushed yellow mustard seeds and salt to taste. It’s almost like a pickle that can be had with anything.
The Kumoaoni’s share a pan Indian fetish for sweet meats. The sticky brown fudge coated with sugar balls is a hot favourite with all the tourists as well – its called “Baal Mithai.” The bread like semolina and anise flavored dessert almost like a jalebi is best had over a cup of tea or with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream for dessert.
Kumaoni cuisine is a delicate amalgamation of flavour that one develops over time. They are not strong flavours but they add the subtle zing to your food. It’s a really simplistic edible experience, which comes with a term ‘comfort food’, flavours, fragrances that one has grown up with.