Being a traveler, love for beautiful places, photography, different cultures, people from different regions & religions and last but not the least the local food, all bundles up and adds to your travel diaries in form of stories.
I was browsing my phone pics when I suddenly came across a food pic which I clicked recently on one of my trips to Manali, it was of a Himachali dish called ‘Siddu’. This triggered old memories way back, maybe a decade or so, when we were traveling to Manali for the first time and a friend mentioned you must have ‘Siddu’. As we were in a hurry we did not ask what ‘Siddu’ was. The thought kept coming while travelling to Manali as we had a light meal due to our travelling in a bus. The hunger pangs did not let us forget and ‘Siddu’ was highly on my mind. Had no clue as to what Siddu was but as a foodie friend recommended it so highly, one thing I was sure of, It had to be worth.
Coming from an Uttar Pradesh town which is so famous for its chat papri and kachori’s, all kind of tastes were buzzing and exploding in my mind. Finally we reached Manali, got off and went to our Hotel. Husband was filling the form and I could’t wait and started with my rapid fire round:
Me: ‘Bhaiya yahan Siddu Kahan Milega?’ (Where will I get Siddu?)
Receptionist: ‘Madam, market main, Mall road par mil jaega’(You will get on the Mall Road)
Me: ‘Mall road kitni dur hai?’ (How far is mall road?)
Receptionist: ‘Bas 10mins walk’(Just 10mins walk)
Dumped our bags, had a quick shower, with a grumbling & growling tummies we rushed to Mall road. Our lon awaited ‘Siddu’ hunt began, asked a dozen people and finally we reached a small shop selling tea and snacks where they were selling it. Smile played on our faces, mouth watering with the thought, and we asked if they had some, when the shop woman said,’we have some fresh ones made and are hot to eat’. It was like YEZZZ… and on a plate we were given some steamed momos like thing, a little bigger, like a steamed calzone and some chutney and ghee.
I shot a look at my husband, disappointed. That’s it?
The expectations were of a samosa like fried delicacy, here was a steamed dough, something died inside, was weighing if we should taste it or look for something else to eat. Disappointment was way too much and then the smiling face of the shop woman disrupted the thoughts and she said sweetly, “Khao Khao, Garam hai”,(Eat, its hot).
Not wanting to break the woman heart, picked a small piece dipped it in chutney and took a bite. It was mild, the flavor delicate, fermented steamed dough and some mild seasoned filling inside. The woman asked us to pour some ghee on top and then have it. It further enhanced the taste a bit. At first did not find it too great, it was mild & delicate. But then the taste of it started to grow. Like the mild people of hills and the beauty of it, it kept growing. There was something addictive about it. And hence ‘Siddu’ found a new fan.
That’s the story of Siddu which found it’s way to my heart and taste buds and now the craving keeps pulling me back to it.
Siddu: A fermented dough steamed snack which looks like a calzone or a momo and has a mild filling of poppy seeds(khus khus), walnut and some spices paste. Usually served and eaten with Ghee and at times when you give that spoilt north Indian look they will serve chutney along. Few local people savour this with Dal or mutton as well. It’s mainly a winters snack but now available throughout the year. Shimla, Manali, Kullu, Mandi and Rohru are some regions where it is eaten mostly and also called as ‘Khobli’ as some places, however popularly known as ‘Siddu’.