I discovered the authentic mouth-watering dishes from the north-western areas of Himachal Pradesh ( Bilaspur, Una, Hamirpur, Kangra and Chamba districts) during my visit to the ancestral village of my in-laws. The food, mainly vegetarian, is prepared keeping in mind the geographical and climatic conditions. Simple and nutritious, the food includes dishes made from locally available pulses, cereals, tubers, vegetables and fruits. Milk is also used in the form of curds and buttermilk in many of the dishes.
Some of the indigenous dishes include, babroo, bhaturu, lasaure ki sabzi, ratalu ki sabzi, sarson ka saag and other leafy greens of the season, kadhi, mah ki daal, khatta, mahni, kehru or rehru, pahari madra, rotis made from maize or wheat flour, rice, chick peas, black gram, red kidney beans (Rajmah), rot ( a sweet deep fried wheat bread), gulgule, bated (steamed or fried pedrode) to name a few. I will post the recipes as and when I make them.
Mahni is a delightful semi liquid dish made from raw or half-ripe green mangoes and is usually eaten with plain boiled rice as a side dish.
To make Mahni you will need :
Raw or half-ripe mangoes – 2 large
Onion – One large
Roasted Cumin seed Powder – 1 Teaspoon
Salt – To taste
Sugar – If required (depends on how sweet or sour you like the dish)
Red chili Powder – 1/2 Teaspoon
Fresh Crushed Mint Leaves – 1 tbsp
Fresh chopped coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
To prepare :
Wash and boil the raw mangoes. ( you can steam them too)
Let them cool a little and take out the pulp in a bowl.
Mash the pulp to make it smooth.
Finely chop the onions.
Wash the fresh mint leaves and crush them a little. Save a few for garnish.
Add cold water to the pulp stirring it gently till it makes a nice semi liquid preparation.
Add the chopped onions and spices.
Add a little jaggery or sugar if the preparation is too sour. I like it tangy sweet.
Taste to adjust the amount of sweetness or spices.
Garnish with mint leaves and keep it in the fridge.
Tip – you can add a few Moong pakodi, boondi or handful of boiled black gram to it. I like it just simple. Never use metal to stir, serve or store sour preparations.
The first version is with slightly ripened ambi (those which start turning light yellow) with sugar.
This is with absolutely raw ambi and organic jaggery. Don’t go by color. The gud is dark but I’ve used very little in it. The taste is perfect spicy sour n sweet in that order. The one in small bowl us without jaggery. No meetha for mom coz of slightly high blood sugar.
I prefer this version to the sugar one. We add boiled kala chana too to Manhi. Tastes divine.
I first had Manhi at Mandi bus station. There was a waterfall after the bridge and a small dhaba opposite it. They served Mahni with boiled bengal gram or kala chana, simple Kali daal and rice. Tea was made in one corner. Mostly the driver’s stopped there. One of the best meals I ever had. I was thirteen at that time.
To make with boiled Bengal gram or kala chana – Soak bengal gram or kala chana overnight in water. Throw the water in the morning and wash the chana. Pressure cook or boil in minimal water and then let it boil so all the water gets absorbed and dried up. Cool the chana is a bowl and once it is at room temperature add it to the basic manhi recipe.
Enjoy this tangy sweet dish with hot steamed rice or hot fresh phulka.