Phanu To Bhang Ki Chutney: 10 Yummy Kumaoni Dishes To Try
Image Credit: Bhang ki chutney

The Kumaon region of Uttarakhand is resplendent with picturesque landscapes, snow-capped mountains, verdant valleys, and beautiful lakes. The hills stations of Kumaon - which include Nainital, Bhimtal, Binsar, Kausani, Ranikhet, Mukteshwar, Almora, and Munsiyari - and its foothill areas, such as Jim Corbett National Park have been the favourite haunts of tourists from the National Capital Region and the plains. The weather is magnificent, and nature’s splendour is at its best, leading to the popularity of the region and influx of tourists rising every year.

Yet, and incredibly so, an aspect that stays a secret from most visitors is the cuisine of Kumaon. Most hotels and resorts offer popular cuisines such as North Indian, Continental and Chinese, and still don’t carry Kumaoni dishes on their menu. The good-old pahadi food, with its purity of ingredients and authentic flavours, remains veiled and restricted to a few local restaurants, home stays, or the homes of people of the Kumaon hills.   

If the gourmet traveller in you is piqued, and you’re thinking of a trip up north, head to Kumaon and step into an authentic kitchen to savour these delectable Kumaoni dishes.

1. Phanu

The curry dish is prepared from gahat ki daal grown locally in the hills, cooked with herbs and spices. The splendid aroma of the curry can be felt even as it’s cooked. Paired with rice, phanu is as filling as it is appetising.

2. Aloo Ke Gutke

One would presume this to be the usual aloo ki sabzi. Maybe yes, or maybe potato has an age-old culinary connection with the hills where it was grown. Whatever be the reason, the fried potatoes seasoned with spices and topped with red chillies and coriander leaves makes this Kumaoni dish in no way modest.

3. Bhatt Ki Churkani

Bhatt, a locally grown soybean, holds a fond place in every Kumaonis heart. The dal is an integral part of the Kumaoni cuisine and goes well with both rice and roti.

4. Bhang Ki Chutney

Many would find the use of bhang (hemp) seeds in the cuisine as surprising, but the Kumaoni dish is famous in the entire region. Contrary to what many believe, it is hemp leaves, and not the seeds, that are used as a recreational drug. The spicy and sour chutney serves as a perfect accompaniment to other dishes.

5. Kumaoni Dal Vada

The crispy fritter made from locally grown chilka urad dal is flavoured with spices, and the weather in the mountains makes you want more and more of its indulgence.

6. Chainsoo

Locals swear by the benefits of the roasted black gram dal recipe, which is a source of protein and warmth in the hills, and is accompanied by rice.

7. Sisunaak

Also called bichoo saag, the Kumaoni dish is made with a plant that leaves you itching if touched. However, once boiled and cooked in butter, it turns into a scrumptious affair. 

8. Singori

Made from coconut and khoya, this dessert is moulded in the leaf of trees locally called malla or mallu. The cone-shaped delicacy is as dainty to look at as it is delicious to eat.

9. Jhangore Ki Kheer

This sweet delicacy of Kumaon is made using a millet locally called jhangora, cooked in milk and topped with dry fruits.

10. Bal Mithai

This fudge is made with roasted khoya coated with tiny sugar balls. Crunchy on top and chewy within, the caramelised dessert is simply impossible to resist.