Jharkhand, the east Indian state is known for its large forest covers and ethnic and tribal cultures. Unsurprisingly, its cuisine and traditional foods stand out for its connectedness with rustic, earthy and local flavors. Also, the traditional foods of Jharkhand are simple, yet packed with local ingredients and delightful flavors. From sweets to savories, the traditional food of Jharkhand is delicious, warm and homely. Below are some of the best traditional food and dishes of Jharkhand, that are a must-try if you happen to visit the state.
Popular traditional dishes of Jharkhand
Most of the people of Jharkhand enjoy basic foods, such as dal, chawala, vegetables and achar (pickles). Using local ingredients, here is a list of traditional foods that are cooked on special occasions, as well as those that are eaten regularly.
1. Litti Chokha
Litti Chokha has to be one of the most loved dishes of Jharkhand and Bihar. Litti is prepared with wheat and gram dough roasted on coal. These balls are then dipped in ghee and served with Chokha or a semi-gravy prepared with either brinjal or potatoes. The dish is often accompanied with papad.
Usually eaten as a breakfast dish, Dhuska is made from lentil and rice batter. The batter is fried and is in the shape of puris. It is eaten with chutney or sauce or with the traditional chickpea stew called ghugni. It is a snacking and breakfast dish.
Rugra are mushrooms that are found in Jharkhand during the beginning of the monsoon season. These mushrooms are found under the Sal trees and have high protein content. Rugra is usually cooked in the form of a stew or semi-gravy dish that is eaten with chapati and rice. One must try this seasonal local food, for its nutrition and unique taste.
Handia is a refreshing local drink that takes almost a week to prepare. Made from rice that is boiled with more than 20 herbs, the handia is in fact, a fermented rice beer. It is made especially on occasions, such as Karma Puja which is a paddy harvesting festival. It is also a sacred drink for the Munda and Santhal tribes.
5. Chilka Roti
Chilka roti is made from fermented Bengal gram, urad dal and rice. The lentil and rice is soaked for a few hours before being grinded into a batter. The batter again is left to ferment and then cooked on a pan like a dosa. The chilka roti is eaten with sauce or different types of chutney. Besides, it is also served with the locally prepared oal curry from yam or mutton curry.
Pittha finds its origins in West Bengal, but is an extremely popular dish of Jharkhand. It is prepared during Makar Sankranti or other special festive occasions. But it is also a dish that is found easily in restaurants and made in homes regularly. It is essentially a dumpling that can have both sweet or savory stuffing. The outer layer is prepared from rice or wheat flour. The savory stuffing may have a preparation of potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, dals etc. On the other hand, sweet stuffings include thickened milk, khoa, dry fruits and nuts.
7. Bamboo Shoot
Bamboos are commonly found in the forests of Jharkhand and it is no surprise that they are hence incorporated in the state’s cuisine. Bamboo shoots are edible and are used in various dishes by the locals. They are also highly nutritious and rich in fibre. Slightly sweet, it is often prepared as a vegetable dish and has a wonderfully unique flavor and taste.
The most popular dish from Chhat Puja, the Thekua is a yummy snack made from wheat flour, sugar or jaggery, fennel seeds and more. It smells divine and the deeply fried sweet discs are crunchy and absolutely mouth-watering.
9. Chana Ghugni
Made from white dried chickpeas, the chana ghugni is a well-known street food snack in Jharkhand. It is a simple dish, prepared with the chickpeas cooked in spices and garnished with onions, tomatoes, lime and coriander. It is a healthy and delicious snack for all times.
Kalaadi is made from fermented milk and has a distinct cheese type texture. It is dried, and then either fried or grilled and is included in various dishes, such as different curries or snacks.
11. Til Barfi
Another Makar Sankranti delight, the Til Barfi though a sweet dish is highly nutritious too. Made from sesame seeds as its main ingredient, it is also popularly known as Til Bugga. It also includes sugar or jaggery and dry fruits. Easy to prepare at home, this sweet dish is one of the most ubiquitous delicacies found in the state.
12. Arsa Roti
A sweet dish, the Arsa Roti or Anarsa is especially relished during festivals, such as Diwali and Holi. Made from rice flour and sugar or jaggery it is also a symbolic dish for a good harvest.
13. Jharkhandi Thecha
The people of Jharkhand enjoy their food with achar or chutney. The Jharkhandi Thecha is a spicy chutney prepared from green chillies, mustard seeds, garlic and other ingredients. It is a standard chutney that is accompanied with any snack or meal.
14. Murgi Chakri
Also, called Chicken Chakri, this non-vegetarian dish is made from chicken pieces marinated in curd and local spices. The chicken is then roasted and tastes heavenly due to the heavy influence of local flavors.
15. Koinaar Saag
The Koinaar tree is often grown in the forests of Jharkhand. It is a locally grown tree that ripens in monsoon. The flower of the tree, also known as the Kachnar Phool is rich in iron, calcium, vitamins, protein, zinc and more. It is used to prepare fritters, chutney, vegetable curry and as a flavoring agent for meat.
Similarly, Sanai flower is another flower that is used to make curry and stews. The Jute Flower or Sanai flower is also rich in vitamins, iron and calcium and is a delicious local dish.
Jharkhand’s food is traditionally rich, but at the same time it is not about opulence and luxury. Most of its loved dishes are in fact, from locally sourced ingredients of the forest, made in simple, hearty ways. The meals and dishes are wholesome and healthy, and undoubtedly, unique in flavor and taste.