Kangri Dham: The Food Festival of Kangra

Each district has its own culture and food. And the same is with Kangra. It is famous for its tourist destinations, world-famous temples, valleys and “Kangri Dham”. Kangri Dham is a traditional food festival (feast) celebrated in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Dham means lunch/meal served during ceremonies. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Dham is cooked and served during every joyful function in the family such as marriage functions, birthdays, religious occasions, etc. 

Kangri Dham History

It is believed that Dham was initially served as ‘Prasad’ in temples but now it is served as an entire meal during festivals, marriages, etc. It is said that King Jaisthamba, one of the Kings of Chamba, was so fascinated by the Kashmiri food that he decided to recreate those dishes among Chamba locals and to offer it to their local Goddess. During that period, Chamba was famous for its spices, Rajma and milk. Hence, the cooks came out with a new dish called “Dham”. 
Kangri Dham (Source)

Kangri Dham Menu

Dhaam is only cooked by “Bootis”, which is a particular caste in Brahmins, who have been following this practice for years. During the feast, around 7-9 dishes are served which includes Rajma Madrah, Kadi, Khatta, Sepu Badi, Rice, Dal etc. are cooked for the meal. What makes this feast different from others is that the whole meal is cooked without using onion, ginger and garlic. In addition to this, no vegetables are used. Only lentils and dairy products are used. The utensils used for cooking are made of brass. 

The mid-day meal is finally served in leaf plates (Sal or Banyan tree leaves) called “Pattlals”. Sweets like Halwa, Fereni and sweet rice are also served at the end of the meal.

The menu starts with-
  • Rice, Moong dal, Rajma (Red Kidney Beans), Chole (Chickpea) is cooked in Desi Ghee which is known as ‘Madrah’.
This is how 'Madrah' looks like (Source)
  • It is then followed by preparing ‘Maash dal’ which is mixed with three types of dals- Moong dal, Urad dal, Masoor dal. 
  • It is then topped with Khatta, which is prepared by Jaggery and Tamarind in an iron vessel.  
  • Finally, ‘Mitha Bhaat’ is served which is a sweet made of either sweet rice or bread crumbs in yoghurt. 
The dishes are a perfect blend of spices which are important and healthy for our body. The traditional way of having Dham is sitting on the ground, in a row and enjoying your meal with your hands (without spoon). These dishes were selected after keeping your health and requirements of your body in mind. Every dish has its own advantage. Say, for example, Sweet rice is served at the last because it supports digestion. Similarly, Khatta is topped on Maash daal because it removes excess fat from Madrah.

Kangri Dham is not just a feast but it is a blend of flavours, spices mixed together with lots of love after which a complete dish is formed!

This post was published by Jahnvi Sharma

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