How Different Are Himachali And Bengali Luchis?

If you’ve ever had Bengali-style luchi, you’d probably be somewhat confused by Himachali luchi, which is usually served with chhole and as part of the popular pairing luchi-poti. But did you know that the Himchali luchi has a Bengali connection too? 

Luchi is essentially a deep-fried bread made from unleavened dough, typically prepared using wheat flour, although variations using other grains like maize or millet are also common in different regions. In Himachal Pradesh, the wheat-based version is prevalent owing to the abundance of wheat cultivation in the region.

The process of making Himachali Luchi is relatively simple, yet, much like the Bengali luchi, it needs gentle kneading to perfect its quintessential texture and flavour. The wheat flour is usually kneaded with water and a pinch of salt to form a smooth, elastic dough. The dough is then divided into small portions and rolled out into thin, round discs using a rolling pin. These discs are then deep-fried in hot oil or ghee until they puff up and turn golden brown, lending it a crispy exterior with a soft, airy interior.

In many Himchali households, fermented savouries like traditional luchi, siddus, bhaturus, etc are popularly made during festivities. Himachali luchi is perhaps the most popular in Mandi, the Himachali town, often referred to as ‘chhoti Kashi’ which hosts the week-long Shivratri fair between February and March. Luchi is a mainstay at the Mandi fair, where it’s usually served alongside chana masala and some meat delicacies. 

The Bengal Connect

The luchi served across Mandi is thinner and much larger than standard Bengali luchis which are made across India and Bangladesh. Though it’s white, flaky and airy and shares the same consistency with Bengal-style luchi, Mandi-style luchi is stretched out with hand before being dropped into the oil, similar to a rumali roti. 

There is enough data to suggest that the Bengali rulers of Mandi brought the tradition of luchi to the small town. The lineage of Mandi’s chiefs can be traced back to Bengal’s Sena Dynasty. Ajbar Sen was the first prominent ruler of Mandi and was most likely the first to assume the designation of Raja. It was Ajbar Sen who built the famous Bhoothnath Temple in the 1500s which is the focus of the famous seven-day Shivratri fair at Mandi. Some of his other popular descendants were  Raja Gur Sen and Raja Sidh Sen and it’s said that the luchi was first introduced to Mandi by the clan of Bengali rulers.

How Is The Bengali Luchi Different?

The luchi made across Bengal is typically made from refined wheat flour or maida, and it is soft, fluffy, and usually deep-fried in oil or ghee. It usually features no added leavening agents. The dough is kneaded with water and a pinch of salt to achieve a smooth texture. It's then divided into small portions, rolled into discs, and deep-fried until it puffs up and turns golden brown. It tends to be light, airy, and mildly sweet in flavour and pairs well with aloo dum or chholar dal and even halwa.

Himachali Luchi, on the other hand, is made from whole wheat flour, and at times it also incorporates spices like cumin, coriander, and ajwain, giving it a distinct flavour profile. Owing to the use of whole wheat flour and spices, Himachali luchi has a heartier and more savory profile which complements the spicy curries it’s usually paired with.