Dogras, known for fighting to the last man standing in the battle front, also relish their food to the last bite. Fond of eating plateful of freshly cooked delicacies along with seasonal pickles, mainly of fresh vegetables, the Dogras have created a space for their traditional cuisine,cooked in desi ghee, and rich in aroma, taste and nutritional value.
History books depicting life style of Royal Dogra families, who ruled the state between 1846-1947, have traced the origin of several food varieties savoured by majority of people living in Jammu province to the times of Dogra rulers and their ancestors.
As per the legend and history books, “wives of Dogra warriors teased the taste buds of their husbands by cooking special dishes on their return from the battleground and won their hearts by displaying their culinary skills”.
Pickles, specially prepared by the wives of Dogra rulers were preserved for longer durations and acquired special place in the Royal Kitchen.
Reknowned Dogri writers and lyricists have also portrayed the theme of long separation of women from their husbands in the Dogri folk songs giving detailed accounts of how tasty food brought them together at the end of long battles Dogra rulers fought to extend the boundaries of their princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
History books also reveal the long journey of traditional Dogra cuisine, which evolved over a period of time. The local cuisine clearly had an influence of the food habits of people living in the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
The reason– a sizeable population of Dogra Rajputs, Brahmins, Vaish, Mahajans and other castes live in harmony in the region and share their customs and traditions.
The Dogra cuisine, which largely consist of vegetarian dishes and few mouth watering recipes of freshly cooked ‘khatta (sour) meat’ and chicken is also known for spicy, sweet and sour pickles.
Dogra marriages and festivals are the best time to enjoy the lavish feast and full course meal with choicest pickles.
Apart from using home grown vegetables Dogra cuisine thrive on local olives and varieties of green leafy vegetables such as ‘Knol Khol’ popularly known as Kadam (Kadam (कढ़म), Kasrod(कसरोड़), Nandru (नंदरू), Lasooda (लसूड़ा), Tyou(टयोऊ), Tarad(तल्ड), Gaलgal(गलगल), Jimikand(जिमीकंद)
Duggar cuisine have incorporated local variety of Lemon, Radish, Carrot, Cauliflower, Turnip, Beans, Mango, green and red chillies to add more to their pickle basket.
A seasoned cook in Jammu claims that Dogra cuisine has a long history and is gradually evolving to suit the taste buds of visitors arriving here in the winter capital enroute Mata Vaishno devi shrine and other local getaways.
Migration of Kashmiri Pandits to Jammu region have also added to the plate of Dogra spices and pickles as the community has accommodated rich taste of Kashmiri spices in their menu and tailor made it to suit their needs.