Decoding The Himachali Cuisine With Chef Rajkumar
Image Credit: An array of Himachali cuisine / Pic- Ayandrali Dutta

Himachal, the pristine land in the northern part of the country is not just known for its natural beauty but also for its cuisine. The aroma, texture, taste, spices in Himachali cuisine is what makes it so unique. The uniqueness of this cuisine comes from the process of it being slow cooked along with the heavy use of yoghurt and cardamom in its dishes. 

On recent trip to Mashobra in Himachal Pradesh, I chose jüSTa Cliffend Resort & Spa as my resting place. Surrounded by hills and greenery dispersed, this property gives the best of modern-day amenities and world-class facilities. Here I happen to meet and interact with Executive Chef, jüSTa Cliffend Resort & Spa, Rajkumar,. Rajkumar who is back in India after his stint in Seychelles, but is a local at heart when chit chatted about Himachali cuisine said that the cuisine sees a huge influence from the state of Punjab and Tibet, especially in its northern regions of these state. Talking about dishes from Madra to Kaale Channe Ka Khatta to Khatte Gosht to the Himachali trout he says the cusine is an absolute delight as spices like cloves, cardamoms, turmeric etc. do their magic 

He even pointed out that even within Himachal, there are many kinds of ‘Dham’ like from the Kangra district has its own way of preparing and serving and this would be different from the Mandi Dham or a Chamba Dham.

Here are few of his top pick from the cuisine. 


Siddhu which mostly happens to be a breakfast item is made with wheat flour. The preparation is time-consuming and needs expertise to make this stuffed dish. Mostly stuffed with paneer or poppy seeds paste, the  wheat flour is kept for 4-5 hours for it to ferment. This gives Siddhu it’s unique aroma too. Paired best with of mutton or some vegetables, the dough is partly cooked in steamed to keep the taste and nutrients intact. Made in most home Siddhu, it is commonly eaten with ghee in winter to boost energy and a special pudina chutney.


Madra, the main dish of Chambiyali and Kangri Dham represents the food culture of Himachal Pradesh. Dham was earlier a temple feast reserved for royalty, but with passing years, it began to be prepared during weddings and special occasions for commoners too. Madra mainly consists of yogurt gravy, few whole spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and turmeric powder. Chana Madra, Mutter Paneer ka Madra or Rajmah ka Madra are different forms of Madra

Chha Gosht

This mutton speciality from Himachal is favourite of non veg lovers. Chef Rajkaumar adds in this delicious dish the lamb is marinated lamb and is then cooked in the gravy of gram flour and yoghurt. Spices like coriander powder, cinnamons, cardamoms, asafoetida, bay leaves, cloves, and red chilli powder along ginger-garlic paste, green chillies, and onions gives this dish a much rich taste and texture. Great on your taste buds this dish that is a native to Chamba, goes best with hot steam rice.

Kullu Trout Fish

Fish lovers swears by a fresh Kullu Trout Fish. One of top Himachali delight, marinated Kullu trout cooked with minimal spices helps to retain the natural taste and nutrients along with being a great dish. The dish goes best with some boiled vegetables, and is one of the healthiest delicacies from the state. 


No meal is complete without sweet and in the same way, Mittha which is important part of Dham, is a sweet dish that sees sweetened saffron rice cooked good raisins and cashew nuts, topped with sugar and saffron milk. This one is surely a sinful indulgence. Combination of dry fruits with sugar and saffron milk makes this a real delicacy.