‘Bhaddu’ is not a pulse or a legume, but a kind of vessel in which the dal is slow-cooked for hours, before it is served hot with rice or roti. Bhaddu is becoming a rarity in Kumaon, and modern vessels take over, but it is the a traditional fixture in many community feasts.
If there’s a word that best encapsulates the Pahadi cuisine for us, it is ‘wholesome’. It’s a food culture known for its simplicity and extensive use of local ingredients, and Uttarakhand is quite blessed when it comes to local produce. A range of pulses, legumes, greens, and herbs make it to the delicacies, making them dense in nutrition and energy. To survive the harsh weather conditions in the mountains, you need food that is packed with power. The dishes here are homely, rustic, and not overly spicy. The two regions in the state have different cuisines, broadly classified as the Garhwali and Kumaoni cuisines, and both are dominated by dals.
Bhaddu Ki Dal is a popular dal preparation in Uttrakhand. In India, we have a tendency to name dals after the pulses used in the preparation, for example, Moong ki Dal (made of mung lentil) and Chane ki Dal (made of chickpea). But here, ‘bhaddu’ is not a pulse or a legume, but a kind of vessel in which the dal is slow-cooked for hours, before it is served hot with rice or roti, with chutney or pickle on the side.
Along with many traditional recipes, several vessels are also becoming obsolete in the region. While it is a common saying that whoever has tried Bhaddu ki Dal can never forget what it tastes like. ‘Bhaddu’ itself is becoming a rarity in the Kumaoni region. Made of heavy bell metal, ‘bhaddu’ has been a traditional fixture in Kumaon, especially in outdoor cooking. When a feast is arranged outdoors, bhaddu (a pot with a narrow neck and heavy bottom) is placed on wood or coal fire. It is the perfect barbeque vessel, or a vessel that you want to use while slow cooking. The lentils cooked in Bhaddu for hours, acquire a rich, velvety taste.
Chef Pawan Bisht recently took to Instagram to share his recipe for Bhaddu ki Dal. This dish is made with the goodness of rajma and urad dal, and is brown in colour. Try making it in a traditional ‘bhaddu’ and you’d know why the pot was also once the ‘pride’ of Kumaoni kitchens. Here’s the recipe.
Preparation time: 25 mins
Cooking time: 45-50 mins