dr. om sharma

Himachal’s researcher proves traditional Mandiyali dham a satvik & complete food, contains all 6 rasa defined in Ayurveda

SHIMLA– Delicious Mandiyali dham – a traditional feast of Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh has been assessed by a Himachal researcher as a complete food from Ayurvedic perspective. A team headed by Dr. Om Sharam at the Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Nutritional Disorders, Mandi spent about six years to study Mandiyali dham. Dr.Sharma, who is also Assistant Director-cum-in charge at the institute, assessed everything from methods of cooking, nutritional values, medical properties of ingredients, serving style, season, geographical and climatic characteristics to Ayurvedic benefits.  He also published a research article in the February edition of the International Journal of Advance Research under title “Dham (Traditional Feast of Mandi in Himachal Pradesh) a Complete Food with Ayurveda Perspective.”

Dr.Sharma, a native of Banrotu, Mandi, said he will file a patent for the dham in order to preserve its importance in times when traditional values are vanishing into urbanization. The patent of Himachal’s traditional dham will include every step followed from preparation, exact quantity used to properties of each individual ingredient.

Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Nutritional Disorders

Recently, Dr. Sharma, was joined by a botanist, Deepshika Arya, and four research officers, namely Vineeta Negi (Kinnaur), Vikas Nariyal (Kangra), Prashant Shinde (Maharashtra),Deepshika Arya (Haldwani), and Sumeet Goel( Haldwani). 

What Makes Mandi Dham a Complete Food?

Other than carefully going through the research article, Himachal Watcher talked to Dr. Sharma to know more about their motivation behind carrying out this extensive study to establish correlation between ancient knowledge of Ayurveda and tradition of dham.

He told HW that while onion and garlic are central to contemporary food, Mandi’s dham doesn’t use either of them, at all. That makes the dham a ‘satvik bhojan’.

Botis-cooking-Dham

Dr. explained that Ahar (food) holds an immense importance in Ayurveda.

As per Ayurveda, a good diet consist of six rasa when taken in a proper sequence starting from Madhura (food sweet), followed by Amla, Lavana, Katu, Tiktaand Kashaya. As per the study, traditional dham of Mandi is an example of food with all six rasa or complete food (shadrasaahara) when served in sequence.

As per the study, diet in Mandi dham also considers influences of Mana (psychological factors) on digestion. As per Ayurveda, negative emotions can influence digestion of food. An individual afflicted with grief, fear, anger, sorrow, excessive sleep and vigil would not be able to digest even a complete diet properly. That is why the dham is served on festive occasions where people gather, sit on ground, and eat in uniform plates made of leaves.

Sequence of Serving

Mandiyali meetha
The food is served in bio-degradable plates made from leaves. The starters begins with madhur rasa (sweet dish), Boondi ka Meeta (chickpera floor dipped in sweet syrup along with dry fruits).

Sepu Badi Mandi Dham

Sepu Badi, prepared from fresh spinach leaves and badi, comes next. In this dish badi is made from Masha (black lentil) and Chana (Bengal gram) that are deep fried with the gravy of coriander and spinach leaves. It provides a Madhura-Amla rasa (Sweet-Sour).

kaddu ka khatta

Sepu Badi is followed by Kadu ka Khatta that makes Amla-lavana Rasa (sour-salty). The dish is prepared from pumpkin and taste like a blend of sweet and sour.

Kol ka Khata (makushtabheda-Vigna aconitifolia) that is prepared from pulse called kol follows khatta. It’s sour and brings a grimace on face.

himachali-Mandyali-Dham-maa-ki-dal

Photo: Koyna Singh.Blogspot

After Khatta comes Mah ki Daal (black tentrils). It is prepared with Fennel seeds, two three bay leaves, green Cardamoms, Black Cardamoms, small stick of Cinnamon, Clovers, Coriander seeds, Bay leaves, Curd, Spinach, pinch of Asafetida, red chili powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder. The dish makes tiktapradran (bitter dominant) dish.

jholJhol comes last in this sequence. It is prepared from curd and water in mud pot. Jhol is believed to help in digestion of food that is taken in dham. As per Ayurveda, itsrukhsaguna also help in cleansing of esophagus and gut from Ghrita rich food. 

Eaten With only Hands

People eat with hands in traditional dham. A person eating with his hands knows the exact temperature of food before the morsel hits his mouth. It prevents blisters in mouth due to consumption of hot food, says the research article.

Medicinal Benefits
The dham is believed to be useful in throat problems, blood disorders, bronchitis, skin disease and liver or gall bladder related problems. Other than that, the diet boosts blood enrichment, help in treatment of ear infections and liver and spleen disorders. The diet also offers vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, folate and the Vitamin A precursor, β-carotene. Pumpkin contains potassium that is good for heart.

Natural Preservation

Traditional Himachal dham
People use natural methods for preservation of main food including rice by drying in sun. Instead of chemical preservatives like sodium benzoate, people use rai as natural preservative. To preserve the pulses, people rub them with mustard oil. It protects them from pests and fungus. Smoke of red chilli is used to treat the vessels in which the pulses are stored.

Favorable Season

Winters are considered favorable season for serving dham as it is believed that digestive powers are higher during this time due to low temperatures. 

Social Equality

Mandiyali Dham Patent

Unlike modern methods of serving food and eating at marriages, all people sit on ground and eat in one type of plate. It promotes message of equality and uniformity in the society, said the research article.

Eco-friendly and employment to traditional plate (pattal) makers

plate made of leaves

Dr. Sharma told Himachal Watcher that the traditional alternative to plastic plates used in dham is clean Taur –bauhinia vahli leaves. The leaves posses anti-microbial effect and antioxidant properties. Moreover, the leaves are 100 percent bio-degradable so no waste left behind.

Dr. Sharma and his team claims that the ingredients of traditional dham are not chosen haphazardly. Rather, its a proof that Himachal’s culture is also rich in terms of ancient wisdom. He stressed upon the need of conservation of this traditional feast as well as other traditions that are unique to pahari culture. He wants the dham to gain popularity so the people may understand the importance of traditional food, and the method of traditional preservation. He said he will continue to work on the research and will refine it. 

He also expressed concern over adulteration of original tradition as some new dishes or ingredients are being included into dham by new generation. Changes or additions would prove detrimental to the benefits which traditionally made and served dham provides. 

As popularly said in Ayurveda,

If one eats pathya(Proper food) then there is no need of medicine and if one don‟t eat pathya(takes improper diet) still there will be no need of medicine.

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