While flatbreads are common in most parts of India, it is lesu which is a staple in Uttarakhand.
Haven’t we all heard that India is a carb-rich country at least once in this lifetime? There are people who say that roti ke bina unka kaam nahi chalta (they cannot live without roti). Well, in India, mornings start with something related to carbs, especially in the northern region. You’ll find people hogging on parathas in Punjab and Haryana early in the morning before leaving for their daily chores. Since most of them are farmers, their occupation requires them to have energy-giving foods like carbohydrates. Topped with a slice of butter, their day starts on a heavy note.
Similarly, the hilly terrains of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand also require a lot of toil. Since the weather is harsh and cold, you need something to keep your body warm for longer. In such a scenario, carbs work well. Grains that are locally produced are often made part of the meals. I remember living in a homestay in the Garhwal region for a couple of days during the lockdown. I had taken the trip to enjoy the peace ad serenity of nature and ended relishing their local food too.
It was during this time that I made accomplice with something known as gahat ke parathe. The old lady would always bring these for breakfast with a tangy achaar or pickle on the side and honestly, I liked them so much that I kept eating them for days without asking. It was only a few days after that I inquired and got to know that it was made from horse gram flour. The simple yet fresh coriander in the dough added to the taste of the dish.
However, there is something more that you should try in the hills of Uttarakhand i.e. lesu. Sounds funny right? Well, that’s another flatbread from the region which is popularly eaten for breakfast. For the unversed, lesu is an amalgamation of two kinds of flatbreads, a regular atta roti and an Uttarakhand special mandua roti. The classic breakfast dish, mandua roti is a preparation of finger millet seeds. The dough doesn’t require any elaborate arrangement and can be eaten with a side of yoghurt.
Lesu brings together the goodness of whole wheat roti with the mandua roti. The dough of mandua or finger millet seeds is prepared and then whole wheat is added to it. The dough is kneaded to roll out a flatbread called lesu. Did you know that lesu doesn’t need any additional seasonings apart from a few carom seeds?
To make lesu at home, you need to prepare a thick dough of finger millet seeds. Then add some salt and carom seeds to it. Stuff the wheat flour dough with the prepared mandua dough and roll out a round roti with the help of a rolling pin. Finally, toss it on a griddle when it’s hot. This Garhwali dish is a winter specialty but you can eat it throughout the year too.
Here’s a recipe of mandua roti which is super easy to make and can help you make lesu too.