Although the culture of Indo-Chinese street food might have originated in Calcutta, it is now widespread across the nation. But what if you are introduced to a pure desi wheat and millet-based noodles variant of India? Would you like to give it a try? Sundarkala, justifying its name, i.e., beautiful art, deserves all the attention
Indian native noodles variants instantly remind us of semiya or vermicelli and the arty crafty idiyappam from Kerala. Those exposed to the country's North Eastern cuisine would be aware of a few indigenous rice noodles' variants. Almost the rest of the population visualises the street food stalls beelining across cities with old to contemporary food scenes vigorously stirring in chopped veggies, eggs, shredded meat, sauces and chow mien in oversize iron woks. But if you haven't eaten Sundarkala from Uttarakhand yet, you are certainly missing out on a huge chunk of Indian fondness for noodles. Let's untangle the mystery.
What is Sundarkala?
Uttarakhand is the home of Sundarkala noodles. The name roughly translates to beautiful (sundar) art (kala). The original recipe for these noodles calls for a mixture or dough of whole wheat and mandua atta or finger millet flour. It is said to originate in Raini village of Chamoli district. But there isn't any concrete proof to it.
Barter could lead to its origin
The root of Sundarkala remains a puzzle. Some people also call it Garhwali "pasta." The dish's inspiration most likely stems from Tibetan culinary fares. Uttarakhand has a long history of a barter system with Tibet. Ghee was sold by the Marcha community, whereas the Tholcha sold oil. In exchange, they got salt, hing, and many other things. It won't be wrong to assume that this particular culinary fare tiptoed into the local cuisine.
Sundarkala isn't a noodles meal that can be whipped up quickly. Hand-rolling the dough to make the long and thick noodles is quite a strenuous and time-consuming procedure. So, it used to be reserved as a process for the colder months. Reason? The farm work in this region hits a dip during winter. However, these days the locals have mostly switched to wheat for these hand-rolled noodles, as it is faster than the traditional recipe. This is devoured as a snack.
A serving of sundarkala with tea, Image Source: befoodie711@Instagram
Simplicity gives the taste
Its deliciousness lies in its simplicity. The dough is made using wheat flour, salt, and turmeric powder. The dough is then manually rolled into sizable logs giving the shape of long noodles or spaghetti pasta. It is followed by dropping them in boiling water and cook till done. They go into a colander to drain the excess water. The seasoning is done with mashed green garlic or garlic chives, salt, pepper and faran. Although faran is optional, it is one of Uttarakhand's most aromatic wild spices. The place and month in which faran is harvested affect its flavour.
A fun affair for the youngsters
A closer look at Sundarkala tells how it has been a part of local celebrations. Especially during Buddhi Diwali or the night after the Festival of Lights, the children and youngsters go on a village tour to collect wheat and all the needed ingredients for this dish. Often, they would craft make-shift clay ovens and unite to prepare a hearty meal of Sundarkala.