Jammu’s provincial area is mostly hilly and mountainous one and Dogra race has been living in these areas since the immemorial times. The population of Jammu has mixed rich cultures and priceless heritage in different sects of the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other castes who have been living with the bonds of brethren and had never been any ill-will against one another. Never any communal violence erupted amongst them. Thus, the Dogras reflect their hilly style of meals revolving around coarse cereals, pulses, dairy products and meat as well. It is worthwhile to mention that strength of Jammu province is based on 62 per cent of area, its physical features consisting of ten districts- Kathua, Samba, Jammu itself, Rajouri, Poonch, Reasi, Udhampur, Ramban, Kishtwar & Doda. All being hilly & mountainous ones don’t have any good road connectivity in the remotest rural areas & where there is availability of road connectivity, these hilly roads are prone to accidents. Some examples of dangerous roads of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban & Reasi are worth-mentioning. In some areas, people are compelled to go on foot up & down the hills, even in these days of development. Therefore they require nutritive food from wholesome grains or milk obtained from cows and buffaloes. Dairy products such as milk, ghee, butter, cheese are essential parts of their diet for the sustenance to be stronger and healthier constitution of their bodies. In their traditional kitchens, the cooking style reflect long and slow cooking methods on igniting fire with dry woods to avoid loss of essential nutrients. In order to balance the nutrition staple food – rice, Chapatis provide carbohydrates, Dals, proteins, and minerals, vegetables and fruits are protective foods, leafy vegetables as source of iron, minerals & vitamins while Chutney (Shasha) increases appetite and Salad, Raita adds fibre to food. Taking Dahi (curd), buttermilk (lassi) is a source of vitamin B-12 & good bacteria for digestion. Spicy & oily foods are consumed only during occasional festivities like Kheer prepared from Desi Ghee, Babroos, Pathora, Khamira etc. The belief of the Dogras that the foods we eat have several implications on our bodies is what Ayurveda has laid down . Dogras are very strict about the hygiene and sanitation. No one is allowed to enter kitchen without cleaning & washing hands & one has to enter bare-footed. I recollect my childhood memories when I used to see my grandmother (Daadi) wearing a white dress called as Giddi/ Gidda before igniting fire in Chulha. She used to clean it & apply the Goua (cow-dung), which is said to be anti-bacteria along with Parola (local white clay) on cooking platform known as Chaunka and only then start cooking food on fire. What to talk of cities, this traditional wisdom is not practised even in villages these days. We have been westernised now & have adopted the system of English kitchen called as Modern kitchen. Just to induce tanginess for eliminating toxins food like Auria (prepared from spiced potatoes with Dahi (curd) & fermented rye. Ambal, Maani, Chutney were relished by our ancestors for increasing appetite as well as to digest coarse ingredients. During community meals, biodegradable leaf-made Pattals & Doonas were used to be prevalent & are still being used when community meal has to be prepared in big Pital Saglas on occasions of marriage or Yag in rural areas. In cities, modern stall-system is prevalent comprising so many dishes, ready to be taken by guests in rental palaces on various occasions such as marriages tonsure ceremonies or other social gatherings. If palaces are not available for such occasions, arrangements are made in hotels as an alternative. While the stalled meals prepared in kitchens of palaces are not fit for health purposes as most of people are diabetic, meals prepared in big Pital Saglas are tasteful as well as good for health purposes as it enhances flavour & aroma coupled with digestibility & health promoting benefits.The left- over meals prepared in the kitchen of the palaces go waste showing disrespect to the cooked meal as there are lakhs of poor people who sleep hungry. It this left-over food is served to those hungry people, it would be a charity work and food would never be disrespected.
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