Wednesday May 29
My motherland is celebrated for its stunning beauty, but the true essence of Kashmiri cuisine remains shrouded in mystery for most.
As the Great Amir Khusrau once said:
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast
“If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this”.
While the Kashmiri Wazwan is a well-known multi-course meal within Kashmiri Muslim cuisine, the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is equally exquisite and warrants equal attention. Its flavors are just as tantalizing and luxurious as its more prominent counterpart.
The food of a place is a true reflection of nature’s blessing to it, and the paradise on Earth is just as blessed as some of the other magnificent and celebrated lands across the globe.
Kashmir’s cuisine offers a variety of delicious options including Rogan Josh and Kabar Gah for meat lovers and Monj-e-Hakh and Nadur Yakhni for vegetarians. Dum Aloo is another mouth-watering vegetarian option.
This is remarkable as most of India and the subcontinent can hardly think of many other curried meat or vegetable dishes, without using this holy trinity.
Since 1989, when the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits started, the regions that Pandits have settled in have given a slightly different shape to the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine.
Even with any modifications, the rich and authentic taste of Kashmiri cuisine can still be savored when a skilled homemaker adds her personal touch to the meal.
The other specialty of Kashmiri cuisine is the use of the special Kashmiri Chilies.
Kashmiri chilies are vibrant in color and have a strong chili flavor without the heat sensation of Paprika.
The other key basic spices in Kashmiri Pandit cuisine are
These spices together with the cooking techniques, make such a strong flavor and texture profile, that the need for using onions and tomatoes to thicken the curries is eliminated.
Rice is the staple of most Kashmiris.
We do enjoy our kandur waan (the local baker) breads like lavasa (naan bread with Afghan roots), Kulcha (slightly savory or sweet hard biscuit-like bread), Katlam (Kashmir’s answer to puff pastry, a flaky crusty oven-baked bread), Tel vor (Kashmiri sour dough oven baked bagel).
These breads are usually savored during breakfast, but no Kashmiri lunch or dinner is complete without a side of rice.
Kashmiri Pulav (sweet Rice dish made with dry fruits), Tehr (rice cooked with turmeric and salt and seasoned with smoked mustard oil), Syun Pulav (savory meat-based Pilaf) are magnificent variations of rice.
This blog merely touches upon the vast culinary traditions of my ancestors. I take great pride in safeguarding these recipes and, as a tribute to my heritage, I will share my food experiences and these time-honored recipes.