The Dham – A Famous Traditional Festive Meal.


By: Isha Sharma

Himachali food varies from region to region. The cuisine of Himachal Pradesh is largely based on the climate and topography of the state. While the everyday meal is the usual dal-chawal-subzi-roti, special dishes are cooked during festive occasions. Amongst festive food, the traditional meal, Dham (lunch served in traditional occasions) finds instant mention. The traditional Dham is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Himachal is credited with many lip smacking and mouth watering dishes. The dham offers one with an opportunity to be acquinted with the various delicacies of the state.

Dham is cooked only by botis (a particular caste of Brahmins who are hereditary chefs). Preparation for this elaborate mid-day meal begins the night before. The utensils used for cooking the food are normally copper ones. It is served in courses to people who sit on floor. The food is served on leaf plates. The Dham includes plain aromatic rice, fried pulses or dal, spicy vegetable curry of red kidney beans and many desserts to satisfy one’s appetite.

Himachali Dham

A Himachali Dham in progress at Dharamshala, Kangra

The traditional dham differs in every region of the state.  The typical menu for dham would start with rice, moong dal and a madra of rajma which is cooked in yoghurt which is prepared in unique style by adding approximately twenty spices . This is followed by mash dal, topped by khatta (sweet & sour sauce) made of tamarind and jaggery, the dham ends with the mitha (dessert) – sweet rice or mithdee (made of boondi or bread crumbs etc).

Other references on Himachali Dham: DevbhoomiHimachal

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  1. Its still very refreshing to see the villages back home in HImachal following the traditional custom. Dham is a beautiful example. The traditional ‘pattals’ should not be replaced by the paper plates and cups.

  2. This is mouth-watering occasion, but you have to be invited by the groom’s side to take pleasure of these delights. The menu mentioned pertains to Kangra-Hamirpur distts.
    In Solan distt. the style of serving is same but we are served first with deep-fried sweet roti (poordey) along with spicy chutteney made of ginger, sesame seeds tamarind or ‘anaardana’ and cauliflower sabji (without gravy). This festival is held next day to the bride’s arrival in her groom’s home.

  3. Every time I visit home(India) I make sure to attend 1 or 2 dhams. I really enjoy eating in dham as compared to so called receptions. I got the opportunity to attend dhams in upper & lower himachal and have to say both have their own unique way & traditions but core is same. Sit down on floor and eath on pattal with your hand…Wah maza aa gaya 🙂

  4. A very cute info about Himachali Dham.
    मुँह में पानी आ गया |
    Missing Home food here at Pune.

  5. The traditional dham is worth enjoying. all dishes are generally taken with rice which is offered again and again during dham .The food is light and easy to digest. The message of Equality and fraternity is also conveyed. , as all sit on the floor and enjoy whatever is on offer ! In some areas dham is also known as bhatti !

  6. Sitting in a line on the floor and enjoying whatever is on offer are the peculiar feature of a dham . The message of equality and fraternity is amply put across. In some areas, dham is also known as bhatti

  7. the most appreciated and ambrosial…delectable and flavoured …toothsome and tasty..cuisine of himachal..especially dist.kangra..:) really refershed up…nicly pen…

  8. Missing India & yeah my home town palampur. Here in so called developed countries, one cant explain the innocent traditions we have in way back in Himachal. I am somehow still against bouffet (standing system) for dham. Pattal and dounas are biogradable and best for environment.

    Good to see the article. May these traditions always remain fresh. imaginary fragrance of madra and khatta is getting me nostalgic.

  9. Boti the back bone of Dham & the delicious of sweet dish called Mitha with mixture of horse gram (chana dal with maani or rentha) Oh my god a different feel!! Thanks Isha for such a nice Article & infact thanks Himvani.

  10. Its strange when i was studying in Dsala i wanted to go out, work, earn money and see different places. Now i am living outside India and miss Dharamsala so much , g8 article but i think there is a place in Kangra not sure where tourists can pay and eat dham, can add that information also. G8 article brought back lot of good memories.Keep it up

  11. My Dear Himanchali Friends ….Just a thought….DHAM@tricity
    How about experiencing your local cuisines away from native place in Tri city ….(Chandigarh)
    How about giving an opportunity to your “taste buds” for the Delicious “DHAM of Mandi” @ Chandigarh
    No need to wait for Marriages/Functions & travel to your native to refresh your taste buds with your local cuisines relished since childhood……

    PS:-Request Himachali friends for genuine likes/Comments. Pass on the message to your friends …..
    Join Facebook Group to vote…& make this event successful…
    Mandi POP @ Chandigarh

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