Some time back we had shared about Mandi Dham with detailed information about what it is and why it's it's so special in Himachal Pradesh state of India. This Photo Journey emphasis it's preparation process, which was also touched in THIS Photo Journey. So check out some of these mobile clicks and know more about it.
So as mentioned in our earlier Photo Journey, it's completely a different system where most of the members of a particular village or small town come together in morning and handle basic stuff related to food to be cooked for all the guests in a particular celebration. Since trend is changing in towns, that's why I have mentioned villages & small towns specifically. It will be hard to see such things in towns like Shimla, Dharmshala, Hamirpur or any other dense city of the state.
Usually this day starts with all villagers come together and help these chefs (Boti) in cutting vegetables and arranging other stuff like spices etc. It's usually a session of 2-3 hrs when everyone keep raw material in place for chefs to do their job in better way. Most of the folks are trained and can take care of this work independently. Many times, some of the vegetables are arranged within the villages, depending upon the season. Pumpkins are used is some of the dishes and mostly fresh out of village-farms. Various other fresh vegetables are used in this preparation.
Leaf plates are utilized to serve the food, although plastic plates are also being used these days. Dishes include plain rice, Madra (Sepu badi or Mukand badi, kidney-beans, White grams, Paneer etc), Palda (a curd based dish or curry), jhol (curd rice), mustard based raita or pulses, pulses and sweet rice or Mithdee (made of boondi, Bread crumbs etc). Dishes vary from one region to another as per local culture. Dhule maah (dhuli Urad dal) cooked in desi ghee is a specialty of Mandi Dham while Chambayali Rajmah is the specialty of Chamba dhaam and Kaale chane ka khaata (Sweet and sour sauce) of Kangra dham.
Here are some of the senior folks who have done this for many years and now gradually promoted to a level where they have to just motivate others and guide them about right ways of doing things to keep up with the pace of chef. Since work-load is not much with them, it's allowed to get busy in cards :) ...