What to Eat in Spiti

Spiti Food

Mostly while traveling you will find small roadside camp dhaba’s and small restaurants where you get tea, coffee, soup, momos, maggie, egg curry, omlette, boiled egg, rajma chawal, aloo bhaji, dal chawal (rice), chana madra and some seasonal vegetables. As the valley is very less populated, fewer travelers, fewer resources, lack of transportation & nearly no vegetation in a long stretch you may not get very fascinated with the food also there are not many restaurants with a large variety of dishes to offer in the valley, but the food at homestays is still the best of all. If you want to eat Non-vegetarian food just give an advance call to the home-stay owner so that they can arrange it for you.

Still, there are a few restaurants/Homestays in and around Kaza where you can still get a variety of authentic traditional Pahari dishes which are as follows:

  • Chana Madra – This delicacy is prepared by combining soaked chickpeas and vegetables in a thick yogurt base to form a singular, kadhi like dish. It is cooked in ghee or oil and seasoned with onion-ginger-garlic paste, cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, coriander powder, and turmeric powder. It is best served with steamed rice and kachumber salad.
  • Thenktuk – (pronounced as ten-took) is a thukpa variant, this soup noodle dish goes easy on the spices of Tibetan origin, the gravy generally consists of Yak/Lamb/Chicken & vegetables like tomatoes, onions, spinach, potatoes, radish, garlic, ginger, and cilantro. The noodles are of the pull-out variety and mixed with wheat dough chunks. This soup keeps nomads warm in long Tibetan winters.
  • Himachali Kangri Dham – is a traditional meal/thali and is served on special occasions like weddings, pujas, and festivals. A typical dham menu is a combination of chana Madra, khataa, boondi ka meetha, teliya maah and chana dal. Initially, Dham was served only as a prasad in temples and hence only a particular Brahmin community of cooks called the “Boti” were allowed to prepare them. The entire meal is “satwik”, which means even onion, ginger, or garlic is not used to prepare it. 
  • Tudkiya Bhaat – Tudkiya Bhaat is a delicious flavorful rice pulao. Cooked using spices like cinnamon, bay leaf, chili powder, ginger, garlic, cardamom, lentils, potatoes, onions, and yogurt. Best served with sprinkled fresh lemon juice on top & mash daal.
  • Bhey – Bhey is a unique dish made with lotus stems. First, the stems are thinly sliced and boiled, then, they are stir-fried with gram flour, onions, cayenne pepper, garlic-ginger paste, and mountain herbs. What emerges a distinct dish with a unique texture and taste. The people here love their Bhey. Best served with Chapati and pumpkin daal tadka.
  • Chaa Gosht – A dish which no self-respecting meat lover will be able to resist is this rich mountain delicacy – Chaa Gosht. Typically a lamb based dish, the meat is first marinated. Then, the meat is added to a gravy of yogurt and gram flour and seasoned with strong spices – red chili powder, cardamom, coriander powder, garlic-ginger paste, asafoetida and bay leaves. For the most aromatic and enticing version, eat Chaa Gosht at a local’s home.
  • Siddu – Siddu is the local bread, typically prepared with wheat flour. First, the dough is kneaded and kept aside for at least five hours so that the yeast can work its magic. Then, the fat is added to the dough and it is baked on a direct flame till it is half cooked. Finally, the dough is steamed. Siddu is slathered with butter or ghee and the warm, moist bread is eaten with mutton or daal.
  • Babru – Babru is a Himachali variation of the popular kachoris. It is made by stuffing soaked and ground black gram daal paste to kneaded dough patties. These patties are then rolled and deep-fried and served with tamarind chutney.
  • Aktori – Aktori is a sweet festive local dish of Spiti Valley. It is made by mixing buckwheat in wheat flour and then pan-fried to get a pancake-like texture. Topped dish with honey and ghee and relish the sweet flavors straight from the mountains. 
  • Trout curry – The icy rivers of Himachal are fed by freshly melting glacier snows. These waters are the favorite breeding ground for the delicious Rainbow trout.  These fish are brimming over with nutrients, so it’s hardly surprising that their curry is one of the healthiest dishes in the state.  The trout are first marinated in lime and mustard then shallow fried in mustard oil with minimal spices. This allows the original, natural flavors of the fish to be preserved. It is then combined with boiled vegetables and served with piping hot rice.
  • Patande – A popular breakfast dish of Sirmour district, Patande can rightly be called as Indian pancakes. Ladle full of smooth batter made from wheat flour, milk and sugar are poured on a ghee laden hot griddle and thin pancakes like those resembling dosa(s) are cooked to make sweet and yummy Patande.
  • Mittha – sweet as its name, Mittha is prepared by adding generous portions of dry fruits to sweetened rice. Always served on special occasions, Mittha can also be served as a dessert at the end of a Dham meal/thali.
  • Chane Ka Khatta – It is an Indian curry made from black chickpeas (kale chane) cooked in a tangy and spicy gravy flavored with tamarind (imli). Its sour taste is a perfect complement for Madra or white rice.
  • Kadoo Ka Khatta – It is a spicy, tangy pumpkin gravy that is a traditional Pahari delight. It gets its iconic taste from dried mango powder (amchur). To even out the taste, boiled potatoes are added. An impressive dish that melts in the mouth!
  • Mash Daal – It is an utterly delicious and finger-licking lentils stew prepared with Whole Black Lentils which are soaked overnight and then boiled with Indian aromatic Spices, sliced onions, and Mustard Oil. This comforting and flavourful daal is easy and fuss-free recipe hails from the Himachal Pradesh, the north Indian State that is nestled in the majestic Himalaya.
  • Chicken Anardana – It is a pahari delight dish prepared by frying chicken and cooking it in an array of spices along with yogurt and pomegranate juice; The addition of pomegranate juice is what keeps this dish on a pedestal above all others. This scrumptious recipe has a mild sweet-spicy flavor that will transport you in the wilderness of mountains. The addition of cashew paste, khus-khus paste gives it all the right flavors and will take you on a taste ride like none other. 
  • Pahadi Chicken – This dish is one of the fastest and easiest to prepare foods in Lahaul & Spiti. Chicken chunks are stir-fried with garlic, ginger, coriander, and mountain herbs. It is garnished with mint to get a full range of flavors. Pahadi chicken is best served with rice or chapatis.
  • Gahat Ka Shorba – This one-of-a-kind soup recipe is prepared by slowly cooking gahat dal and then adding a mouth-watering season to its stalk. Cooked in an array of spices, this soup recipe will be an instant hit in your household and will be loved by all members of your family. Gahat is a very healthy lentil that is known to help in removing kidney stones.
  • Alu Palda – It is a thick yogurt gravy cooked along with chunks of potato and flavored with cardamom and cinnamon. Alu Palda’s mellow taste makes it a firm favorite dish in Lahaul & Spiti.
  • Luchi Poti – This might just be the most exotic local food in Spiti Valley. The main component is the lamb intestines. Millet and wheat flour are mixed together with a wide variety of spices. The intestines are stuffed with the resulting paste and steamed. A must-have dish for every hardcore non-vegetarian!
  • Momo – No die-hard foodie can think of momo’s without salivating, and we are no exception! Of Tibetan origin, momo’s are today served in every corner of India and have a dedicated fan following. The dough is stuffed with minced meats, cheese, and vegetables and then steamed till cooked. They are then served with chutneys, chili sauce or ketchup. Momos may also be served in a soup. Incredibly, this simple dish is so versatile that the combinations of stuffings are endless. Also, every stall and restaurant has its own secret momo recipe.

Beverages:

  • Chhang and Arak (Alcoholic) – Made from barley, Chhang is consumed in every home. It also enjoyed at every festival and social gathering. Arak is a distilled form of Chhang, which is super potent. It is definitely not a drink for lightweights! Please know that it is a local alcoholic drink and Chhang is even sometimes called the local beer of the region.
  • Sea Buckthorn Juice – It is a juice made from the wonder berries of the Himalayas, also known as Leh Berries. It is highly nutritious and proven to have wonderful antioxidant and anti-aging effects. It is also used as a source of vitamins and other nutrients, and for boosting immunity, treating eye problems, reducing signs of aging, and preventing side effects of cancer therapy.
  • Butter Tea – It is a Tibetan delicacy and can prove to be a lifesaver at high altitudes. Salty, pink, and exotic butter tea really warm you up. Incredibly, this tea is pink in color, with a distinctive aroma. For a half a day, tea leaves are stewed in water. Then, boiling milk is added to this water, along with salt and fresh yak butter. The pink color is from the Himalayan salt used.
  • Chaza – It is a salty tea is made with melted yak butter. 

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