Katlambe – Dehradun’s unique street food

While reminiscing the memories of places we visited, we usually tend to picturize bits of it (or all) in our minds. I always wondered how people picturize Dehra (Dehradun) in their minds. What intrigues them the most about this place? – Is it the landscape (valley), or the mountain ranges of Mussoorie that stands like a wall in front of it, small town feel (well it is no longer a town now and is a bustling city with lots of people and cars), great salubrious weather (residents would surely argue that as well, times have changed) or it’s food?

Well, for a change, I wish to take you through a gastronomy tour of Dehra and share an experience of a unique cuisine that was brought here almost 7 decades ago (approx. around or just after the Partition in 1947).

What do the residents of Dehra take pride in when it comes to food? And I often get this question from my friends planning a trip to Dehra | Mussoorie. And for most of the times, the visit ends up at one of the known Tibetan restaurants, proudly relishing a plate or two of hot steaming Dumplings (Momos). Well, the bakery shops have a certain strong pull factor too.

But here, on this post, let me explain you about a unique delicacy (originally from Pakistan) that has been here for 70+ years. ‘Katlambe’ is a Peshawari dish (from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan).

What is Katlambe?

It is a deep fried bread with multiple layers of ghee rolled into it. The dough is made of 1. Maida 2. Salt 3. Ghee 4. Semolina 5. Salt 6. Curd

It is prepared in refined oil and cooked thoroughly inside and out. They make a hole so that the inside area is also well cooked (this is the key difference from Bhatura and that it is not fluffy too).

Katlambe is served with a chickpea (Chole/Chana) curry, and this is also uniquely prepared. There is NO usage of Onions, Tomatoes, Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric and/or Red chilli powder, typical ingredients for any spicy curry. The chickpea served here is called ‘Pindi Chana’ . Raw onions, green chillies and/or pickle are served separately on the plate.

Surely a high calorie meal (plus filling) but worth an experience.

How did the dish land up in Dehra?

Post partition, Mr. Kishan Lal Sethi (a resident of Peshawar) left home and boarded a train to India. He had no destination in mind and kept going and somehow arrived in Dehra, as this was the last stop for the train he was travelling in.

Once in Dehra, Mr. Sethi decided to set-up a road-side stall and serve Katlambe. This is a popular dish in Peshawar , however, instead of being served with chickpeas curry, it is served there with Halwa. For a change (given too much of oil was anyways there in Katlambe), Mr. Sethi decided to give a slight twist and replace Halwa with Chana.

Cut to today, Mr. Sethi’s 3rd generation is still serving ‘Katlambe’ to the customers. The road-side stall continued until 8 or 9 years ago when the family set-up a small restaurant (Sethi’s Food Corner), just across the road.

Where is this located?

Sethi’s food corner is located in the old part of Dehra , i.e. close to the Clock tower. Situated right at the Moti Bazar Chowk, it is hardly a 6 minute walk (approx. 600 metres) from the Clock Tower. You can use this Google Map link to arrive at this place (click here for the exact location)

There are a few other road-side stalls that serve Katlambe in the area but Sethi’s a brand plus the quality is excellent and the staff is quite friendly.

It is not a regular (common) food that you will find in India and I can (with some amount of confidence) say that Dehra is one of the very few places in India where you can savor Katlambe.

Well, the train terminated at Dehra with Mr. Sethi seated in it, I wonder if the mountain rail from Dehradun to Mussoorie or beyond existed then, would Sethi’s food corner have been founded in the mighty mountains of Garhwal? We may not have an answer to that, but we can surely thank Mr. Sethi for bringing Katlambe to Dehra.

Hope you enjoyed the post.

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One comment

  1. Well I was introduced to this unique preparation by a foodie a few months back. It tasted good. I did not eat at the venue you have mentioned but will now try it someday. Good that we have something other than bakery that has a historical journey and can be referred to visitors coming here. Thanks for reminding me about this dish. Will try at Sethi’s

    Liked by 1 person

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