After ages of waiting for a book on Himachali food, I finally found one. I would have almost missed it if my uncle, who loves to cook, hadn’t saved an article from the Tribune about this new find. The book unfortunately is not available in bookstores anywhere in India and must be ordered directly through the author/publisher. I am not sure how that business model works, since one is sure to miss out on the casual browsers in bookstores who are the ones who tend to do impulse buying. And what of all the Himachalis spread out all over the world who are not so sure about the recipes from back home and have no access to the Tribune – how does one tend to tap them? One thing is for sure, the price of the book will deter most local Himachalis to invest in it – we are a much too frugal race for that you know.
The book is beautiful with some wonderful food photography. (Although the introductory photograph taken from the top of a valley of what I presume is the Neugal Khad manages to make a crematorium its focal point. Talk about being unfamiliar with the local customs and prejudice.)
The dishes are mostly simple ones that an average Himachali would recognize immediately and, knowing the culinary skills of a lot of my friends, would be most appreciated. I immediately turned to my favorite, the Mandra, and was a bit surprised by the recipe, not boiling the chickpeas – which is a first for me, but maybe I will give it a try one of these days. I think it is safe to assume that each dish will give you the basics and must be tweaked according to individual tastes and preferences. There are no non-vegetarian dishes here, which is a big drawback when you consider the love of chicken and mutton in the average Himachali heart.
A sample can be viewed here:
All in all, it is an excellent effort and is most commendable. Now to just market it properly and give all those Himchalis starved for a flavour of home a chance to try and make these wonderful recipes in their own kitchens all over the world.