Badeel: The Healthy, Vegan Pahadi Breakfast From Kumaoni Hills
Image Credit: Have it as a snack or a breakfast dish with steamed ginger tea.

Veganism is a relatively new food trend that is increasingly gaining importance. For the unversed, vegans are those who do not consume dairy or meat products and heavily rely on plant-based food. While this is an emerging concept, we didn’t know that the remote areas of the hills also have something for the vegans. Given the harsh climate and the heavy physical labour involved in the occupation of the pahadi locals, it is natural that they begin their day with something filling and nutritious. Living amidst nature with little intervention from city life or supplies, the people residing in these areas usually rely on natural produce and eat fresh and healthy food. 

Not to say that they don’t have their own indulgent times with delicious delicacies, but a daily meal routine comprises of loads of food that has a high nutrient profile. We know how much Indians love their flatbreads, right? Parathas, pooris and desi pancakes are a top choice when it comes to meals like breakfast. They keep you full for longer and provide you with the energy to work during the day. Parathas are not always the usual aloo and onion stuffed varieties but these people include several kinds of flours in their diet too. 

Take gahat ke parathe for instance. Made with horse gram flour and a few spices, this simple dough is rolled into a paratha and served with a chutney and curd at times. Or there is lesu, a type of pancake that is commonly eaten for breakfast in Uttarakhand. You have sweet and savoury varieties of it too. On the Himachal side, you’ve got aktori, the Indian cousin of pancakes and babru, the pahadi cousin of bhatura. The list is endless. However, there’s a vegan recipe that has intrigued us to the core. It’s called badeel. 

Badeel, for those untouched by the phenomenon, is a kind of kebab made from lentils. The fact that it doesn’t use any dairy, meat or flour makes it a great vegan and gluten-free breakfast option. The yellow-coloured kebabs are stacked one on top of the other to form a tower and is usually served with pudina chutney. The dish is a specialty from the foothills of Kumaon and is eaten for breakfast, as an evening snack or sometimes, as an appetizer before a meal. Made with masoor dal or Bengal split gram dal, the breakfast dish is high in protein. 

To make badeel at home, you need to begin by soaking the dal in water. Let it sit like that overnight. Next morning, you should drain it of the water and grind it into a thick paste. Spruce up the paste with some spices like coriander and garlic paste, garam masala and more. To cook the dal, pour it into a pan with oil and heat it up. Once it is cooked, transfer to a plate and spread the mixture evenly. Let it rest for some time. 

Once it set, you can slice it into smaller pieces with a knife. The cubes are deep-fried and served hot. 

Here’s a quick recipe of badeel for you to try.