“We all may not be good cooks but who said we don’t love good food?”
It is the desire to satiate our taste buds that takes us places. Whether it’s the street food or fancy restaurants, every place has some uniqueness of its own. And what to speak of those delicacies which are cooked with some local and unusual ingredients. A visit to a place is incomplete if you don’t eat such a speciality.
I am from Himachal and there are countless endemic cuisines which you can’t experience at any other part of the country. ‘Sidhu‘ is one of such exquisite name.
Sidhu: The Local Bread Of Himachal
It’s a kind of bread made in inner hilly regions of Himachal for ages. Best thing is that the mandatory ingredients are found locally which is obvious as you can well imagine these hills used to have hard life in the past and had to depend on what was available. Though things have changed with time, and the process of Sidhu making has also evolved. This is the era of experimentation, and ‘Sidhu‘ is all set to cross the countryside and, has already made it to the main menu of some selective restaurants in Hill Towns.
The very basic things that one needs is to make Sidhu is Wheat flour and Yeast. In the earlier time, the pre-fermented bolus was used to raise more dough instead of yeast. These two ingredients are used to make the simplest type of Sidhu which are eaten with dal especially black dal (urad). Local people call them ‘shudhne‘ meaning plain. You can add any favourite flavour of yours like garlic if you like.
For those who would like the their bread with stuffing, we have lot of options. I mean Sidhu can be salty or it can be sweet. It depends upon people’s preference.
Sidhu with Salty Stuffing:
It is generally done with black dal. To save time dali-dal (ground lentil) can be used. For this, it is soaked over night and then ground. Salt is added to taste. Green chillies and spices are added as per liking.
Sidhu with Sweet Stuffing:
People here generally use Afeemdana (poppy seeds) or Bhangzeeri (I don’t know the english word for it, and remember, it has nothing to do with bhang, I mean cannabis!) However, Himachalis don’t spare poor cannabis also which grows naturally in unattended lands. The seeds of the plant are used for the same purpose.
Any or all of the above seeds are roasted and ground followed by addition of sugar. All the ingredients are mixed well. If someone likes to experiment, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg powder can also be added to it. A thick paste is made by adding little butter.
Sidhu is very flexible. If you replace sugar with salt, voila! You have another variety of salty Sidhu.
Other options for filling are walnuts, apricot seeds, sesame and likes.
Now let’s make some Sidhus…
The process is simple like making stuffed parathas, but you just don’t roll them after filling.
- Take wheat flour
- Add yeast
- Let it stand for 5 hrs minimum
- Make any of the filling mixtures
- Make small balls of the raised dough
- Roll them a little
- Take two spoonfull of stuffing material and paste it inside the slightly rolled dough
- Fold and press the sides firmly to make a ball again
- Pat with your fingers to flatten a little
- Keep it aside and Repeat
- Steam in a Sidhu Maker for 15 minutes
Take out and serve hot with Ghee (clarified butter).
Pull a hole in the centre of the Sidhu and pour Ghee in there. Don’t be a miser, and feel free with ghee.
Remember! Sidhu tastes best with Ghee.
Sidhus loaded with nutrients are good source of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins for hill people who have to live an active life in a cold environment.