Soon, savour the taste of Himachali ‘dham’ at tourism eateries
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation restaurants and hotel will introduce the brassware-cooked meals, “dham”, to their menus
Tourists will soon be able to relish the flavours of the traditional “dham” feast at Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) restaurants and hotels across the state, with the state set to introduce the brassware-cooked meals to their menu.
Speaking of the move, aimed at popularising Himachali cuisine and drawing more people to the hill state, HPTDC and tourism development board vice-chairperson Raghubir Singh said, “I feel that there is a need for fresher branding of foods in our hotels, to keep up with the pace of the growing restaurant industry. Foodies are always looking for something different.”
“Traditional Himachali cuisines will be available at almost all the hotels,” Bali, a legislator from Nagrota Bagwan, added.
While HPTDC’s flagship hotel in Shimla, Holiday Home, prepares a select few traditional cuisines for the visitors, a separate menu specialising in Himachali food will be introduced multi-cuisine restaurant.
“Dham”, a traditional multi-course meal prepared by a “botis” or head chefs and comprising different elements including rice, lentils, curries cooked in large brass “charotis” or brass cauldrons, sits atop the corporation’s list of new menu items..
Different parts of the state champion their own recipes, ingredients and rituals associated with the meal. The annual celebrations to honour the village deities are traditionally the days when “dham” is prepared, as are birthdays, death anniversaries, weddings.
“‘Dham’ is synonymous with the important days of a Himachalis’ lives, and we wish to take the same to restaurants so that the tourists also get a taste of Himachali food,” Bali said, adding that all the tourism-owned restaurants will now have separate corners or space for serving Himachali food under the name of “boti dham”.
The food catalogue will also display Himachal’s best-kept secrets when it comes to traditional recipes. As per the plans, there is a proposal for adding more continental and Himachali food items at popular tourist destinations like Dharamshala and Manali, which witness huge tourist rush throughout the year.
Story of ‘dham’
The beginnings of the Himachali “dham” are storied and go back over a millennia to the time of King Jaistambh of Chamba. As per folklore, impressed by the wazwaan feast of Kashmir, Jaistambh asked his botis or cooks to prepare a similar course, albeit without meat, back home. Their endeavours made way for the “dham” as we know it today — a meal comprising seven to eight dishes, made sans onion or garlic and served on a pattal or leaf plate. Today, it has gone from being temple fare to finding its way into banquets and other celebratory tables.