All the way through Uttarakhand we kept trying to get our hands on local Garhwali food. Almost two weeks went by and all we could get were paranthas and alu this and alu that. We were on our way to valley of flowers and thus were on the tourist and pilgrim route, so one can expect some variety in the food. even restaurants that showed Garhwali food on the menu refused to serve it. As it is the cost of a Garhwali thali was some 300 rs as opposed to a standard north indian thali for some 70 rs. We were ready to pay that 300 just to taste the food but then were told its not available. We found out later that not many people order it so they don’t really serve it.
When we got to the village of lata and went to stay with Ranaji (we’ve posted about him earlier), once again roti and alu and dal was served at which point we literally had to beg for some local food. With a lot of fear and uncertainty they decided to serve some typical Garhwali food for dinner.
Needless to say the food was excellent. The overall look and feel of the food is very north indian, but slightly different. The colours will be interchanged, the textures will be a little more on the rough and grainy side, new flavours will swim up and down like dolphins, a bitter zing here a chewy lot there. We had this yummy local spinach called Cholayi, and rotis and uttappam-like things made from local grains. What is interesting is that most of the food has no spice. They keep a bowl of this ‘salt’ that is made at home, made up of salt, red chillis, a ginger-like local root, dhaniya leaves, pudina leaves, this grass-like herb that smells and tastes like onion (you can see these herbs drying in the background on the stone slab roof), and tons of garlic, all pound up together.
Soon after this fresh batch was made we got to taste it sprinkled on cucumbers fresh from their farm, each of which was as big as a pumpkin.
The great thing is that you too can taste this without going all the way to Uttarakhand. Rana ji and Dr Sunil Kainthola have started both a community based eco-tourism venture (www.mountainshepherds.com) as well as an online store to promote and sell Uttarakhand spices, clothes, music, handicrafts etc. (www.angwal.in)
Uramili is an entirely crowd funded project and film. In the first phase of our fund raising we raised over two lakhs through individual donatiions ranging from 100rs to 20000rs. We are now in the process of trying to raise 13 lakhs by September. Your contribution will help us continue filming and sharing stories from across the country. For more information, see http://www.uramili.in and to make an online contribution, go to http://www.orangestreet.in/Projectdetails.aspx?id=1