Himachal Pradesh has the traditional community feast, dham, starting with rice and servings of lentils and beans, sour and sweet. It gets the top place in the cuisine of the region. Food is generally spicy, greasy and while yogurt, mustard, cinnamon, cardamom, chilly are commonly used, there are subtle variations in the preparations to suit the local palates.
Most part of the west south Himachal faces extreme winters and to beat the cold, meals are centered on meat and abundance of ghee because it is general belief here that the two items give energy to the body and so warmth. In the rugged cold desert terrain of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti Districts, bordering Tibet, where live the tribal, paucity of wood for warming the pot has necessitated the people to feed themselves on pieces of raw meat of mountain goat sprinkled with salt and dried in open within the four walls of houses. Different preparations of locally grown coarse grains-buckwheat, millet and barley-supplement the menu besides the above delicacy. Moravian missionaries, came to Lahaul-Spiti around 1860. These missionaries introduced potatoes, tomatoes, and cabbage in the valley that considerably improved the economic conditions of the natives. Saffron, hops and seabuckthorn are later addition to the cash crops of the area.
Himachal Pradesh despite its variation in topography is truly rural agrarian. Rural areas, today, account for 91% of the population whose mainstay is agriculture. Farmers here reside upon their own farms and build sun-friendly, wind-sheltered cottages with sun-dried bricks on selected spots and cultivate the terraced fields.
It is now opening up. Roads, electricity and water have reached the last village. The produce ol the land makes way to market quickly. Horticulture, floriculture and off-season vegetables are gradually replacing the age-old agricultural activities. The lile style is changing. Something that has not changed in the humble eats, a treat for the peasants even today, making entry to the board of heritage and other holt as well-heeled gourmets to tickle the taste buds of urbanites too.