Chamba, revered for its stunning natural beauty, history, literature and spiritual potency is the land of the world-famous chukh. This delightful home-made pickle is prepared from the exotic Himalayan chitrali chillies that grow in abundance in the hilly region.
The fiery Himalayan green chitrali chillies are carefully picked, sundried and then mixed with the extract of an indigenous Himachali lime called galgal. Locally grown citrus fruits are used for basting. It is cooked on wood fire for a long time till the paste thickens. Garlic, forest honey, dried fruits, spices and jaggery are also added to enhance its taste. It is allowed to cool and sold in glass bottles in the market.
The chukh is sold either as Himachali chukh sundried red chilli paste or as green chilli and citrus. What sets this chilli paste apart from the rest is the aroma, pungency, hotness and natural smokiness of the chillies making it a perfect accompaniment for parathas, snacks and main course.
A variety of local dishes are made from the spicy chukh that can be consumed in the cold weather. The Himachal Pradesh government has now sent in a request for a Geographical Indication Tag (GI) recognition for this traditional hot chutney.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian