Food in Chamba
Most residents in Chamba are vegetarian by choice. Their day to day food consists of rice, chapatti, lentil and vegetable curry. However, the food prepared in a typical Chamba home is unique in ingredients and taste. The cooking method is also different. The paranthas and momos served in different eateries across the town do not represent the true Chamba cuisine.
Gaddi Food in ChambaAt the same time, one must understand that food habit is not same all over the district. For example, Gaddis living in the Bharmour Tehsil are equally fond of non vegetarian dishes. However, their staple food consists of cakes made out of maize and wheat and this they take it with mah, a kind of black lentil and Rajmah (kidney bean). In addition, they also take limited amount of vegetables and fruits. Nonetheless, one dish that is common among all communities of Chamba is Rajma Madra, also spelled as Madhra or Madrah.
Rajma Madra of ChambaOf all the food items in Chamba if one can be called the most favorite, it is Rajma Madra. No celebration is complete without it. The dish is unique to Chamba and has a very ancient origin. According to hearsay, Raja Jaistambh, the son of Raja Maru, was very fond of Kashmiri dishes and so he invited a few cooks from neighboring Kashmir and asked them to prepare a unique dish using all kinds of ingredients harvested in Chamba Valley. This was to be offered to the local deity.
At that time, the main produce of the state was rajma, different kinds of spices and milk. So, madra was created by using rajma, thirty one different types of spices and lots of yoghurt and ghee (clarified butter). Today, however, one does not use so many types of spices; it has been modified to suit the modern palate.
Other Varieties of Madra
It is to be noted that Madra is also available in other districts; but they use different types of ingredients. For example, in Kangra, they use chick pea instead of red kidney bean; in Hamirpur, they also use black eyed beans etc. The spices are also different in different areas. It is said that a bride from Chamba introduced this dish to Kangra and from there it spread into other regions. Each region adopted the dish, but molded it by using the locally available ingredients. Therefore, if you want to sample true Chamba Madra, you must come here.
More Chamba Dishes
While Rajma Madra is a specialty of Chamba, there are few more Himachali dishes, which are equally popular. Among them we can name Sidu, which is prepared from wheat and Patande, which is sort of a pancake. Then there is the hot and spicy Chouk. Bhagjery, Kali Dal, Aloo palda, Auriya Kadoo, khatta, chutney made from til etc are few more must try dishes in Chamba.
Where to get Authentic Chamba Food?If you want to taste authentic Chamba Madra, you must get yourself invited to a dham (community feast). Meals in these feasts are cooked by hereditary Brahmin cooks known as ‘boti’. Each boti has his own secret madra recipe, which has been handed down from father to son. Otherwise, you may also visit Jagan Restaurant located on Museum Road and Chowgan Restaurant in Moholla Sapri.
Dham in Chamba
Before we precede any further it is essential we talk about ‘dham’ in Chamba. As we said, it is a community feast cooked by hereditary cooks. In general, a typical dham menu starts with rice, moong dal and rajma madra. This is followed by boor ki kari and mash ki dal, topped with a sweet and sour sauce known as khatta. The dham ends with the mittha; it is made from sweetened rice and is mixed with lots of dry fruits and raisins.
Restaurants in Chamba
Chamba also have a number of restaurants, which offers typical Chambali food. However, a great majority of them also serves different Indian and Chinese dishes to cater to the need of the tourists coming from all over the world. Following a few of them:
Jagan Restaurant in ChambaJagan Restaurant, located on Museum Street, is a good place to try Rajma Madra. They also serve many other vegetarian and non vegetarian food items. There is nothing flashy about this place; but the food is good and the price is reasonable. The restaurant remains open from 11:30 AM to 10:30 PM. To know more you may call at +(91)-1899-226691.
Chowgan Restaurant in ChambaChowgan Restaurant, located inside Hotel Iravati in Mohalla Sapri, is another good place to try authentic Chamba dishes. Apart from Chamba Madra, you may also try Chasnidar, a sweet and sour fruit dish, made with dried fruits. However, in most cases, these dishes require preordering. The establishment is run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and offers most of the pan Indian dishes. It remains open from 7:30 AM to 9:30 PM. For more details you may call at 01899-222671 and 9418122628.
Café Ravi View in ChambaCafé Ravi View, located in Jansali, is another establishment run by HPTDC. It is housed in a pretty wooden hut and offers wonderful view of the River Ravi. The restaurant provides different kinds of Indian and Chinese dishes. Moreover, it offers both indoor and outdoor eating facilities. However, many people go there in the afternoon just to sit in the open and enjoy good food along with chilled bear. For more details you may call at +91-1899-222294.
Park View Restaurant in ChambaPark View Restaurant on Museum Road is another good place to try. It is located close to the Bhuri Singh Museum inside a commercial building and therefore unless one is careful, he/she may miss out on it. The restaurant offers different kinds of Indian and Chinese dishes. However, it is famed for its chicken preparation; you will find around one dozen of them on their menu. Also try jeera rice; you may have it with curd and dal served in copper bowl.
More Restaurants in ChambaDesa Chicken Corner, located on the backside of Museum Road, offers sizzling tandoori dishes and delicious chicken curry that go well with hot chapattis. The USP of this restaurant is that the food is cooked right in front of you.
Besides, Olive Green Restaurant in Dogra Bazaar is another good place to try. Otherwise you may visit Neelkanth Restaurant in Aroma Hotel, Khattir in The Hotel City Heart and Zaika in Hotel Ashiana Regency. For more details on them, you may refer to our page on Accommodations in Chamba.
Apart from these, there are many more small time restaurants and dhabas that offer equally good food. Many of them are located around Chowgan; you may drop in there any time for a refreshing bite.
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