A classic steamed bun with a savory lentil stuffing, this Himachali Siddu or Sidku is best served warm with ghee, during cold winters!
Most popular in the hilly regions of Shimla, Kullu, and Manali in Northern India, Himachali Siddu is made with either a sweet or savory filling. Traditionally, you make a dough with flour (refined flour or whole-wheat flour), instant yeast, salt, sugar, and water. The savory stuffing is made with urad dal (split black gram), cooked with some basic spices and aromatics, while the sweet stuffing can vary from mixed nuts to poppy seeds.
While the basic preparation of the Siddu is mostly common across regions, you can find variations in the method of cooking, shape, filling etc. It is also a great plant-based option for vegans, who can simply swap out the ghee for vegan ghee or some refined coconut oil. No matter which filling you choose, make sure to not omit the fat, for fat makes everything taste so much better!
Steaming yields a unique texture to the buns, quite different from baking. A steamed bun obviously lacks the golden crust, but makes up for it with a uniformly soft and spongy texture. In fact, you can pretty much swap out the filling for anything else you have on one hand (leftover veggies, sabzi, cheese etc.) and make steamed buns out of them. They won’t necessarily be “siddu”, but hey, we all could do with some culinary creativity every now and then!
How to make the Dough for Siddu
A typical dough consists of flour, salt, sugar, yeast, some oil and warm water.
You can use maida (refined flour) or gehun ka atta (Indian wheat flour). I often do half and half. The refined flour gives a great texture and allows the yeast to work really well, while the whole-wheat flour adds a tonne of flavor, not to mention fibre to the dough.
You don’t necessarily need to make the dough from scratch either. If you have some leftover pizza dough, you can also just use that!
How to make the Savory Filling for Siddu
The most common savory filling for the Himachali siddu is made with split black gram or the urad dal. The dal is soaked for a long time, then ground to a thick paste with some spices and aromatics, then partially cooked on a pan or steamer.
There are versions of this recipe where the filling is not cooked and is stuffed into the dough as is. While that should be okay, I personally prefer cooking the mixture for 8-10 minutes. Since lentils take a bit longer than any flour to cook, I want to be safe and ensure I give it enough time to cook.
How to cook the Himachali Siddu or Sidku
The siddu is a steamer bun so you obviously will need some form of a steamer. The buns are shaped and placed in a steamer and cooked for 8-10 minutes until the dough cooks all the way through.
But you don’t need a special-purpose steamer for it. You can use your Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker or simply a large cooking pot with a lid as a makeshift steamer.
How to make Vegan Himachali Siddu?
A siddu is a vegan-friendly dish, in that you don’t actually need any animal or dairy products for the basic recipe. You can easily make the dough and filling without any ghee or butter or milk.
The caveat though is: A Siddu is served with warm, liquid ghee during winter, and it is considered to be extremely comforting. If you’re looking to make it vegan, just skip the ghee and eat it with any chutneys you prefer. The Mint Chutney is a really great option.
Can you make the Siddu ahead of time?
Yes, you can steam the buns ahead of time, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
However, the Siddu should be served warm. So right before serving, you could add some sprinkling of water and microwave for 30 seconds or steam again for 2-3 minutes.
Here’s a video on how to make the Siddu at home –
Himachali Siddu (Lentils in a Steamed Bun)
For the Filling
- 1/4 cup split Urad Dal (split black gram)
- 2-4 pieces Green Chili
- 1 inch Ginger, minced
- 1 tsp Cooking Oil
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds (jeera)
- 1 small Onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder (haldi)
- 1 tsp Coriander Powder (or any spice you like)
- 2 cups Water (if making on a pan, refer notes)
For the Dough
- 2 cups Whole-wheat flour (Indian Chakki ka Atta) – or Refined Flour
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Instant Yeast
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Oil or Ghee
- 1/2 cup Warm Water
For the Filling – Basic Prep
- Wash and soak the urad dal in water for 4-5 hours until the dal plumps up. Discard the water completely.
- Add the Dal to a blender along with the chili, ginger, turmeric powder, salt and any other spices you want.
- Without adding too much water, grind to a thick paste, and set aside.
For the Filling: Method 1 – Stovetop Cooking (on a Pan)
- Heat a tsp of oil on a pan, add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
- Then add onions and turmeric powder and saute until translucent.
- Add the ground dal paste along with 2 cups of water. Mix well and bring to a boil.
- Simmer the heat, cover the pan and cook on low heat for 10 minutes or until the dal is partially cooked through. You're looking for a thick mixture.
- Once it's done, add chopped cilantro leaves (optional), and mix well.
For the Filling: Method 2 – Steaming
- Mix onion and oil with the dal paste. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Add to a steamer plate and steam for 10 minutes.
- When cool, add the cilantro leaves, mix well and set aside.
For the Dough:
- Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, instant yeast and warm ghee or oil.
- Add the warm water and mix until the mixture comes together. Knead for 7-8 minutes until you have a smooth and soft dough.
- Place in a large oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth or lid. Let it rest in a warm spot for 1-2 hours or until the mixture doubles or triples in volume.
Forming the Siddu:
- Divide dough into equal portions, and roll into neat balls. You can make one large siddu, cut into pieces and serve for ease, or you can make smaller, individual sized portions too. You can also make it shaped like a bun or a calzone.
- Divide the filling into portions and roll into balls too. This will ease the process of forming the buns.
- To shape like a Bun: Roll the dough into a 1/2 inch thick circle. Place some of the fillingin the middle. Bring the edges together to the center and seal. Then roll with your palm on the work surface to form a smooth bun.
- To shape it like a Calzone: Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick circle. Place some of the filling on one side of the circle, leave some gap on the edge. Fold over the other half onto the half with the stuffing. Seal the edges. Make a patter with a fork if desired.
Cooking the Siddu:
- If you have a steamer, place the formed siddu on it. Cover & rest for 20 minutes.
- If you don't have a steamer: Place the siddu on a plate lined with parchment paper. Bring some water to a boil in a pot, and place something on the bottom to raise the surface. Then place the plate with the siddu in the pan. This is a make-shift steamer for you. Close with a lid.
- Steam for 8-10 minutes or until the dough is fully cooked through. Insert a knife or tooth pick into one siddu, and if it comes out clean, it is done.
- Allow it to rest in the pan for 5 minutes. Then remove the siddu and store in an airtoght container.
Serving the Siddu:
- Siddu has to be served warm. So even if you make this ahead of time, steam it for a couple of minutes to reheat before serving again.
- Serve the Siddu with warm, liquidy Ghee or any chutney or condiment you like.
If you liked the recipe, do check out some other delicious Indian recipes –