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Unifying Regions, Unifying Festivals

Alaya Resort Corbett wishes everyone a happy harvest!

A garland of sweets & the promise of a good harvest to come.

The Kyari region of Uttarakhand is easily recognisable by its expansive fields blessed with crops that contribute to feeding our great nation. One could walk miles in these never-ending fields of vegetables and fruits lounging peacefully in the fertile soil bed and still never know if it ever ends. The locals are close to nature in a way most of us may never understand, they have thumbs so green it seems as though they are sprouting leaves from their touch alone.

That is why the festival of Makar Sankranti holds a special place in their calendar. While our year 2021 began with our residual resolutions from the year before, the locals celebrate Sankranti (also known as Uttarayan, which refers to the northward movement of the Sun) with more fervor as it brings along promises of longer days and abundant sun. It marks the end of the winter solstice, in simpler terms it means that the tilt of the earth is better positioned to receive and prosper from the Sun’s rays. Meaning a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally it is celebrated by adorning your Sunday best, and burning a large bonfire. There is lightness in the air as dance and music lifts spirits and everyone indulges in flying a myriad of colourful kites. But no festival is really complete without the promise of delicacies to gorge on.

A thin crisp made of nuts glazed in boiled sugar.

The most relished is the Chikki, a nut brittle made using jaggery(gur). A thin crisp made of nuts glazed in boiled sugar. Crunchy bites of happiness. They are perfect for the season as these ingredients are healthy to snack on and can easily be stored for months, if you are able to stop after one. A word to the wise, this is often best with a kulhad of piping hot adrak chai to hit off the sweetness of the gur.
Wholesome meal made of whole wheat, lentils, dry fruits consumed on auspicious days – khichdi
A savory item that is often consumed on this auspicious day is Khichdi. It is a wholesome meal made of whole wheat, lentils, dry fruits and lots of fresh veggies from the fields. It is an explosion of flavour as they often have a variety of aromatic spices in the mix. It’s a soulful dish, a hug in a bowl some might say. Most of the Kumaoni cuisine is hearty filling food, at Alaya we often prepare the local produce in a Kumaoni way for your meals with us. A spoonful of Kumaon to remember your stay with us by.
Kneading mixture of flour & jaggery with milk – Ghughuta

Another delicacy, exclusive to the traditions and region of Kyari is the Ghughuta. In Kumaon, the people also recognise Makar Sankranti as Ghughutiya Tyar, ghughutiya is also known as ‘kale kauwa’ which means black crow. This is celebrated based on a legend about a king who was saved by a crow. It is believed there was a king who had a minister named Ghugutiya, his intentions towards the king were not pure. The minister schemed to kill the king and usurp his kingdom. However a crow warned the king, saving the king’s life. The king not only punished his minister but ordered his people to prepare sweets and offer them to the crow for his service.

The delicacy Ghughuta is prepared by kneading a mixture of flour and jaggery with milk and then shaping them into small shapes like a pomegranate flower, a sword, a spiral, damaru (a small two-sided drum) etc. these shapes are then deep fried in ghee till the exterior becomes a crispy warm brown. The sweets are strung together using a thread to form a garland with popcorn and oranges. The children then offer these to the crows while chanting “Kale kauwa kale, ghughuti mala khale” (O black crow, eat this garland made of ghughute) and seek blessings. The locals make a spare garland or two, which kids are often spotted wearing around their neck, cheerfully munching throughout the day.

During the Melange – Christmas and New Year event of 2020, we had invited local food veterans at Alaya Resorts. They brought fresh picked produce and taught us authentic Kumaoni recipes. The lunch spread on these days was like no other. This has become a regular practice for us at the resort, If your taste buds could use an adventure, come visit!

Kyari Kopal – A new leaf, get ready for the new experiences – Alaya Experience 2.0

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