It’s in recent times that a lot of regional dishes have been getting a platform to showcase their dishes through Pop-ups. Many such pop-ups are held in Mumbai be it the Bohri, Assamese and so many more among them. When we think of Himalayan Food, the first which comes to mind is those of either Jammu or Kashmir. The Wazawan and Kashmir Brahmin food has been getting its due but the idea of Himachal food hasn’t struck yet with the masses. That’s when the #HimalayanPopUp at Bidri comes of utmost importance. To be honest I’d heard of some of the Himachali dishes earlier while reading through articles, but never really got a chance to taste them personally.
The Himalayan Pop-up at Bidri, Marriott is being curated by Sherry Malhotra and Chef Yogendra Pal. With my first tryst with Himachali food, a lot of the dishes came out as simple and refreshing. High on flavor, low on spices and more so to do with fresh produce. I found that a lot of the dishes on the menu are made using Yogurt and upon enquiring with Sherry she said that each household has their own cattle, hence the abundance of milk and yogurt across seasons which is used in the food.
The menu is a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Both the sides have options aplenty. We started with the Channe ki Tikki. The pan-fried tikkis made of chana or chickpeas were delicious to munch on with a filling of fresh fenugreek and tomato relish. The Patode makes for a great snack before a meal. Made of Arbi (colocassia) leaves, these were delicious especially for a person like me who enjoys arbi.
Moving on to the non-vegetarian side of starters, I can easily say that the Dahi ke Chaap floored all of us at the table. The lamb chops had been braised in buttermilk and fennel seeds and were full of flavor. It was rustic and easily one of the best stuff I’ve had in a long time. You definitely have to get your hands tucked in to relish the chaap, with the meat having been cooked beautifully with the flavor of mustard oil standing out with each bite. The Macchi Fry is made originally using trout but at the Himalayan Food Festival made use of Seer Fish and was pan-fried with freshly ground spices that you got it uniformly over with each bite.
Like stated earlier, most of the Himachal food makes uses yogurt and buttermilk. They sure do like their food tangy and that aspect of cooking was inherent in every dish we had that night. The Chaa Gosht is made with buttermilk added to the mutton gravy best had with Babru. The Babru is similar to the bature and real heavy. I had like one and I had been complete full by then.
Among the vegetarians dishes were Channa Madra where the boiled chickpeas are cooked in a tangy gravy along with lotus seeds. Replace the chickpeas with potatoes and you have the Aloo Palda with the gravy a little dense compared to the Madra.
Sepu Vadi was the one dish with left me with a lot of memories from the Himalayan Pop-Up at Bidri. It was simple yet heavenly and one I couldn’t stop telling the others at my table to try. These Urad Dal dumplings are first steamed and then cooked in a spinach puree. I couldn’t control myself from taking a little extra helpings of the vadi.
Among other dishes that night were the Bhey (Lotus Stem cooked in yogurt), Kaale Chaane ki Maani and Methi Macchi.
The dinner ended on a sweet note with Meetha Baath, a popular dessert which is sweetened basmati rice flavored with saffron and garnished with dry fruits. The Khus Khus aur Makhane ki Kheer had the flavors beautifully blended and the perfect end to a glorious meal.
It takes passion to come up with such a unique menu and kudos to Chef Yogendra Pal and Sherry Malhotra for bringing the food of Himachal Pradesh to the city of Hyderabad. Regional cuisines of India is where some of the most interesting dishes lie and it’s time they come out at the forefront. The #HimalayanPopUp for me was just not only about the food but the unique insight into a cuisine yet unknown.
The Himalayan Pop-Up is on at Bidri till the 28th of February, 2016
Address: Marriott Hotel, Tank Bund Road, Necklace Road, Hyderabad
Phone: 040 27522999