In a land where hospitality and warmth are key defining factors of happiness, could you expect a feast to be anything short of it?

Welcome to Himachal Pradesh, where centuries of camaraderie amongst them has spawned a rich culture and heritage. One such influence that lives on has an interesting anecdote attached to it. 1300 years or so ago, Jaistambh the King of Himachal, was invited by his counterpart in Kashmir. There he was lavished with the Kashmiri Wazwan feast. Jaistambh was so impressed with the fare that he wanted to recreate it in his homeland – and thus was born the quintessential Himachali feast, the Dham. Ready to hear more?

Traditionally prepared in the Royal household by the Brahmin castes of the Himachal valley, it is now a custom practiced in marriages, festivals, birthdays and other such special occasions. Since its roots lie in the fact that it is ‘temple food’, it is prepared in ‘satwik’ style and avoids any garlic, garlic or onions – or vegetables! But that shouldn’t deter you – for its prolific use of lentils and dairy products is just way too magical!

Prepared on a slow wood fire using narrow-mouthed copper vessels, the Kangri dham served in the Kangri valley deserves special mention. Here, a dozen different dishes are prepared meticulously and served on plates made of sal leaves and banyan called ‘pattals’. Organic lovers, rejoice!

Start off your meal with rice, moong dal and rajma or chhole, cooked in yoghurt, prepared in a unique style by adding approximately 20 spices known as madrah. Move on to a 1500-year old recipe called the ‘Maash’, prepared with 3 kinds of lentils and topped off by a sweet and sour sauce, called ‘khatta’. To conclude this elaborate journey of the palette, savour the Mitha Bhaat or Mithdee. And that’s when you realise, food can be a divine journey to heavenly bliss!

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