Saturday, 4 April 2015

D for Dham

This post is written as a part of April 2015 A to Z challenge. 

Where all across India, the western impact and urbanization has curbed the local culture, Himachal has still survived to preserve its customs and maintain the flavour of its culture especially visible during festivals and celebrations. The same can be easily seen in the traditional dresses, the antique jewelleries, the local dances, the regional songs, the customary greetings, the local festivals …. everything.  And in all these ceremony one thing is common i.e. the collective  fooding or luncheon called DHAM
Today being the fourth day of the challenge I devote D to this special luncheon Dham instead of Dalhousie or Dharamshala.
Dham is the traditional way of honouring food to all guests who have come in the celebration or function in HP. The guests are made to sit in queue (just like pangat in some parts of Bihar & UP) on the ground and then the food is served. The food generally contains Rice and then 8 to 10 varieties of Dal and Sabzi and ends with sweet which is generally meetha chawal (sweet rice). It includes plain aromatic rice, fried pulses or dal, spicy vegetable curry of red kidney beans, curry of chhole,  variety of matar paneer etc. and dessert to satisfy one’s appetite.
Best part is all these are not served at once, but in sequence. The food is served on leaf plates.  First the rice would be laid, then one dal (pulse) would be poured over a part of it. You would finish this and then the other dal or sabzi in the sequence would be poured. Like-wise the whole list is laid. The last of the item is Khatta – which means a sour dal. Finally Meetha is served. ( At some places like Hamirpur Ras wala Bundi is served as meetha)
People enjoying Dham
Dham is cooked only by BOTIS – who are a particular caste of Brahmins who are hereditary chefs. Preparation for this elaborate mid-day meal begins in the night before. The utensils used for cooking the food are normally of copper. It is even served by BOTIS.

Botis preparing Food for Dham

The traditional dham differs in every region of the state. The typical menu for dham would start everywhere with rice, moong dal and a madra of rajma(red kidney beans) or Chole ( chik pea) which is cooked in yoghurt which is prepared in unique style by adding approximately twenty spices . This is followed by mash dal, topped by khatta (sweet & sour sauce) made of tamarind and jaggery, & ends with the dessert – sweet rice or mithdee (made of boondi or bread crumbs etc.).

In Himachal the traditional Dham is celebrated with great enthusiasm and offers an opportunity to devour with the various delicacies of the state. So if you are in Himachal don’t miss to participate in Dham.

Next would be E. Stay Tuned.

For other posts on Himachal written as part of Ato Z Challenge : List of post on Himachal Pradesh written as part of A to Z challenge.
Aditya Sinha

For other participants in the challenge visit : A to Z Challenge