Hansali organic farm (A farm stay near Chandigarh)

In a nutshell:

‘A first of its kind’ experience for us staying in a farm (plants, poultry & animals) overnight, experiencing the activities close, topped by one of the top 5 best punjabi food experiences of our life.

Conversations with the immensely articulate, enthusiastic & technically knowledgeable current owner of the farm, Pavail gave us a good understanding of the subject. A long chat with Pavail’s octogenarian dad Sukhchain Gill ji was a blessing. We look forward to going back to the farm again to just sit & talk to uncle.

Trip to Himachal Pradesh (return via Chandigarh) planned by Vana Safaris, whose unique cultural tours we have got addicted to.

Address & other details: Hansali Organic Farm

Facebook – Hansali Organic Farm

Instagram- Hansali Organic Farm

Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian

Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.

YUMMRAJ rates all the food items & then gives a final overall rating, which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster

We paid Vana safaris for the whole trip cost. They paid Hansali Organic Farm for our food & stay.

Short description- in case u r in a hurry

Over the years we have got addicted to the trips conducted by Vana Safaris. So this time our brief was as lazy as it could get – ‘we have travel dates from xx to yy. Please suggest locations & detailed plans.’

Avijit, the founder of Vana Safaris, suggested Himachal Pradesh & we agreed. We left the planning to him & the result was wow. Onway back he planned our stay at Hansali Organic Farm.

The next section gives you detailed description of the below:

1. A general overview of an organic farm (this section is only for city dwellers)

2. The farm & crops at Hansali

3. Poultry

4. Animals at the farm

5. Stay

6. Food

Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:

1. A general overview of an organic farm

this section is only for city dwellers

Both of us (me & my partner) have been living in cities all our lives & no one in our families own a farm. We go to Villages for a travel trip & return. This was the first time we met an educated city person into a full time farming business of both animals & plants.

A food is labelled Organic broadly if it has been grown without the use of:

• artificial chemicals

• hormones

• antibiotics

• Genetically modified organisms

There is a debate on whether organic is sustainable for such a large world population or whether the new age technology of chemicals & GM are better. Needless to say, I don’t have a definitive answer. No one has.

The organic farms of today use modern technology (tractors, harvesters, other machinery) , milking machines, packaging etc. They just do not use chemicals & other things mentioned above.

The animals of organic farm are usually fed food grown in organic farm to reduce chemicals in their system & hence in their milk.

Milk supplied by organic farms are usually unprocessed. Delivered as it is directly from farm to customer home within a certain time period.

2. The farm & crops at Hansali

This 17 year old farm has about 1 acre of orchard, 3-4 acres to grow fodder for the farm animals, 3-4 acres for basmati rice, 1 acre for home stay & the owner’s home.

In the animal farm they have about 90 cows (including A1 & A2), about 150 desi chicken, 30 goats

The farm sends out a vehicle to Chandigarh every morning with milk, In-house made cookies, pickles, paneer, gur, fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, rice etc. the vehicles deliver to a subscriber base that the company has.

Certain articles like milk are supplied daily to the subscribers through a third party motorbike based home delivery partner. Other articles when harvested, are notified to the customers. The orders are received on WhatsApp & shipped out in packets along with the milk supplies of the next day.

This business works seamlessly due to absence of Wholesaler. The owners do not need to depend on whims & fancies of middlemen & have directly established relationship with a large pool of final consumers.

3. Poultry

The Hansali poultry farm was a large airy cage with a high ceiling with a lot of space for the birds to play around.

We learnt this very interesting fact at the farm, which matched with what my chicken vendor in gurugram had told me a decade before.

The usual poultry chicken that we eat, grows from a 8-9 day chick to a full grown chicken in just 40 days. It takes 8-9 months for a desi chicken to grow to full size. This is how this miracle/debacle happens –

• Central Govt run organzations sell day old hatched chicken to poultry farmers.

• the poultry farms give steroids to the bird at different stages for super fast growth.

• Chicken remnants are also fed to chicken

On the contrary, desi chicken at Hansali are fed with seeds of plants grown at the farm. The birds grow at their normal pace of 8-9 months. Per chicken meat is approximately 1.5-1.9 kg. The farm is able to sell this meat at ₹950 per kg meat vs. approx. ₹300-350 of poultry chicken.

We had the Hansali farm chicken for dinner. Simply outstanding. Read more about it on the last section.

4. Animals at the farm

The farm has both A1 & A2 cows. Let’s do a simple explanation of this. A1 cows are the foreign origin ones & A2 are the pre bred Indian variety like Sahiwal etc.

Why such strange names for cows like A1 & A2? Here is an oversimplified reason.

Casein is a milk protein that makes up to 80% of the protein present in any milk

The type of casein in foreign cows is A1 beta-casein & in case of Indian cows it is A2 beta-casein.

That’s where the names A1 & A2 come from

The difference as per many (but not) experts is that A1 causes bloating & indigestion in many (not all) patients & A2 does not case the same (in most).

The cows & oxen shared the same space at Hansali farm , a covered shed standing on pillars led to open air yet protection from rain & sun. Most animals except a few were roaming free.

The fodder given to the animals had been grown at the farm.

Fodder cutting machine

The A1 cows were being milked by machines. A2 cows were being milked by hand, in traditional way.

We got to know that the farm sells off the animal at prime & buy new ones. That ensures a younger average age.

In hot & sultry weather, the yield of milk goes down as much as 30%. Milk becomes thinner at this stage. In winters it is better. That’s how any natural product is, versus a factory manufactured one.

The goat farm was relatively much smaller than the cow shed. Again, it was not covered from all sides but the ceiling. There was a brick built section in the goat farm that the goats huddle in winter though.

The farm sells goat meat once in a few weeks.

They do regularly sell goat milk at ₹500 a liter.

5. Stay

The stay at Hansali is 5 star level in terms of the rooms, furniture, cutlery & every other infrastructure.

A wash basin made from a bucher’s wood

The service is however like at someone’s home. It’s nowhere like a hotel. Things take time, like in a house. A plumbing problem or an electrical problem can’t be sorted on spot like in a hotel as there is no standby team for each such service.

Mohan ji is the senior most among the staff at the farm. He cooks food & is the ‘go to’ for almost everything. He’s been with the family for 25 years. He stays at the farm full time. We saw how the owner’s family treat him as a family member.

At a time 8-10 guests can be accommodated at the farm. 95% plus guests at this farm are from outside Punjab.

The place is friendly for elderly guests – Zero steps & Wheelchair friendly.

We were told that the farm Let’s out rooms to families / heterosexual couples only. STAGS NOT ALLOWED is their policy. They prefer to not have a guest than to have a guest outside of their criteria.

Most guests come through personal contacts of the owners & personal contacts of the guests.

When organic farming started becoming a buzzword, the Prince of England (now the king) had visited the farm (& other farms) to understand how India is approaching organic farming. A plaque commemorating the event can be seen on the wall.

The room that we stayed in had all-wood heavy traditional furniture. The ceiling was high & the air conditioning worked well.

The washroom was aesthetically made.

The jewel in the crown was a small personalised dining area attached to our room. This room also had wooden traditional furniture & fine cutlery in the glass Almirah.

We were served dinner & breakfast in this room.

Just outside the room, in the porch, were seats that we enjoyed sitting in the evening time & tgd morning as well.

Sitting areas in the rear side of the room, overlooking the farms were really nice. The patio , covered on top &!open from the side was cool without AC.

In winters, gur is made from sugarcane at the farm. That’s quite an activity. Many guests like to come, stay & experience this.

A Food festival is held at the farm in February. Hyatt Chandigarh Chef &! Team come over to the farm & do a ‘farm to table’ menu, using ingredients from the farm.

We heard that 900 people dined at this event in February 2023!!

6. Food at Hansali Organic Farm

Repeating – we had one of the top 5 best punjabi food experiences of our life at this farm. 100% of the items were really good – a feat very difficult to achieve for any chef/cook.

Freshly harvested

Mohan ji cooks the food from ingredients grown at the farm. I call him a ‘Culinary magician’.

The farm asks the guest about menu a day in advance as everything is prepared as per order. Nothing is made in anticipation.

For snack we had Pyaz pakoda with pyaz from the farm. Perfectly balanced taste. Perfect interplay of crisp outer cover & juicy crunchy onions within. Rate it 4.5/5

Dinner day 1

Lauki subzi was made from the bottle gourd green at the farm. The fresh & juicy lauki tasted excellent in the simple curry that Mohan ji made. He had also put in tiny pieces of paneer. Rate it 4.5/5

Paneer makhani was made from paneer made in-house with milk from the farm cows. Super soft, full fat milk paneer was just marvellous. We licked off the gravy on our plate to the last drop. Rate it 4.75/5

Daal was slow cooked to perfection – perfect texture & taste. Makhan for the daal was again made from milk of the farm cows. Outstanding. Polished off this as well till the last drop. Rate it 4.75/5

Chicken curry was made from chicken of the farm. Desi chicken is usually high on taste & flavours. THis desi chicken curry had robust meaty flavours & were soft & juicy, yet with an enjoyable bite. Mind blowing good. Rate it 4.75/5

Roti (phulkas) had been made from wheat green at the farm.

Long grain aromatic basmati Rice had also been grown at the farm.

What completely took us by surprise & pleasant shock was Gurwali roti. It’s a comfort food of the village folks, we were told. Immensely flavour Gur (jaggery made from sugarcane) made at the farm was put in the middle of a roti with generous amount of Makhan. Unbelievable. The sweetness (not too much) of the gur complimented the salt in the roti & together they did a tango on the tastebuds. Wah. Blown away. Rate it 4.95/5

Breakfast day 2

Aloo paratha had just right everything – even filling all over, the right amount of frying (not too much, not too less), the softness , the generous In-house made white butter (Makhan) from the milk of farm cows – it was again magic in the plate. Rate it 4.75/5

Paneer paratha was exactly as good. Rate it 4.75/5

The White butter surely did magic.

We were full after the parathas but Mohan ji insisted that we try the Omelet made from eggs of hens at the farm. Of course the eggs were excellent but what exceeded that was the passion & skill. I don’t remember any restaurant / 5 star hotel that has given us as good a masala omelet anywhere in India. Rate it 4.95/5

I almost felt like pinching myself to see if all this was real. That man is a genius.

Overall rating of food at Hansali organic farm averages out to 4.73/5

That’s a super crazy rating.

To sum up – we are looking forward to driving back to the farm in winters over a weekend.

One thought on “Hansali organic farm (A farm stay near Chandigarh)

  1. Thank you for your kind review Sir. We are really glad that you enjoyed your stay with us, and we hope to see you soon again. Since we are constantly striving to improve, we shall try to make your experience of stay even better the next time you visit is ji. Thanks & Regards. Pavail.

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