Uttarakhand is a known tourist destination but is hardly known for its cuisine. So, I could not resist the temptation of discovering food from Uttarakhand when this offer came to me from the One8 commune, Worldmark 2, Aero city, Delhi. At the end of the visit, I realized that it was worth driving 100 km to and fro from Ghaziabad, where I stay, for this unique experience.
Priced at Rs 1600 for vegetarian and Rs 1800 for non-vegetarian platter, it was worth its money. The ambience was good and equally good were the gentry. Showing lots of hospitality, the staff escorted me from the reception to the restaurant. They made me comfortable with a welcome drink which had the aroma of flowers from the hill state. The vegetarian platter started with Aloo ke gutke, Kala chana masala, Pahadi raita and Urad dal bade. From the vegetarian starters, I liked the Urad dal bade the most. It was so soft that it melted inside my mouth.
The non-vegetarian platter started with Roasted bhang chicken, Kachpak and Pahadi fish pakode. The most intriguing in the non-vegetarian dishes was the use of bhang in various preparations. It started with Roasted bhang chicken — succulent chicken chunks marinated overnight in bhang marinade and served with til ki chutney. You can feel the green taste of bhang while eating chicken which was served with sik. The pahadi fish pakode was also served with bhang ki chutney. Even the Bhang mutton boti, which they served in the main course, was prepared in bhang gravy. The best part was unless you are told in advance, you cannot detect it. Use of bhang in non-vegetarian preparation was unheard of. At least I had not tasted it in past.
Another specialty of the Uttarakhand food pop-up was non-vegetarian starter Kachpak, which was made from tender goat’s skin. The skin was roasted over an open fire pit and was then marinated with Pisyoon loon. Served in small pieces, it tasted amazingly good. However, some of the tiny pieces were not as soft as others.
Bhaddu ki daal was another vegetarian preparation which One8 restaurant boasted of the most. It was an authentic lentil preparation from the lush green hills of Uttarakhand. The dal is cooked in a vessel known as bhaddu and the preparation is named after the vessel only. It was served hot by the Pahari chef Pawan Bisht himself.
Although I never liked the steep mountains and massive traffic jams on roads leading to Uttarakhand from Delhi, I did like its cuisine.
(The writer Sanjay Kumar is a seasoned journalist and is the Editor of www.msn.com)