The culture of a people is expressed through their cuisine, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the food of Himachal Pradesh. With fare as soul-stirring and soothing as the panoramic sights of its undulating landscape, it is no wonder Himachal Pradesh is called the Land of the Gods. After the renowned Himachali dham, it is the sweeter-than-ripe-apples desserts of Himachal, which even the locals hanker for, that close the deal on a good meal. Meetha, or something sweet, is a must after a meal, be it the not-so-humble wheat germ or nashashta halwa, or even the simple suji shira. And it doesn't stop at that. During festivities and when guests amble over, all meals are enriched with a dessert made quickly from easily available local ingredients. We have for you five finger-licking good desserts of Himachal Pradesh.
Boondi Ka Meetha
The modest boondi, which is a drop of Bengal gram flour or besan in hot oil, is elevated to regal levels when made the hero of boondi ka meetha. Soaked in sugar syrup and flavoured with fennel seeds or saunf, it is easy to prepare and entirely unforgettable. All you need is the skill to make a lump-free boondi batter of besan, salt, turmeric, and water and the technique to drop it into the hot oil. Let it fry, and presto Boondi is ready. Soak this in one-string sugar syrup, garnish with roasted saunf, almond juliennes, crushed cardamom, raisin, grated coconut, and melon seeds, and serve hot.
One of the most popular desserts among Himachalis, mitthaa, is consumed in large quantities and is reserved for special occasions. It is a sweet-flavoured rice dish made with either jaggery or sugar and garnished with dried fruits. Festive meals are considered incomplete without mitthaa being served to close the service.
The standard winter vegetable, the pumpkin, turns into the king of the buffet at Himachali weddings through the dessert meetha kaddu. Thin-skinned, underripe pumpkin is cubed and sauteed in ghee tempered with saunf. Melted jaggery is added with a pinch of black pepper powder and dried fruits. The concoction is slow-cooked till the pumpkin is done, but the cubes only partially disintegrate.
A variation of the crepe is had the world over, and Himachal has its very own in the form of the patande. A simple and quick dish, which can be dressed with dried fruits, etc., for special occasions. Made with milk, sugar, and wheat flour and flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon, they are cooked in ghee.
A sweet kachori-like delicacy but without filling, babru is an offering from Shimla. Wheat flour dough is fermented and rolled into small discs, deep fried till they puff up and turn crispy golden. A sprinkle of powdered sugar, and they are ready to eat. Wash these down with a bit of hot tea, and you are prepared for a walk along the ridge.