Must Try Delights from Kashmir

Kashmir - fondly known as a paradise on earth offers alluring locations, picturesque views, unbeatable beauty and mouthwatering cuisine. Yes, we are talking about the rich and delicious Kashmiri cuisine that offers a wide selection of dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Not to mention the beverages, which compliment the cuisine and are a welcome treat in the cold weather. Kashmiri cuisine is influenced by geographical conditions and famous for the use of spices like cardamom, fennel, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and saffron that complement dishes. Kashmiri dishes also make a regular use of dry fruits, especially in the preparation of curries.

Let’s look at some must try delights from Kashmir. 

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Delicious Breads

Snacks, such as Sheermal, Baqerkhani, Tsot and Tsochvoru, which are different forms of breads, add to the vast range of delicacies in the Kashmiri cuisine. Mostly relished at breakfast time, Tsot and Tsochvoru are small round breads topped with poppy and sesame seeds. Sheermal and baqerkhani are puff pastries. Girdas and Lavas are bread varieties that are served with butter. Mostly breads are available at local bakeries also known as "Kaandar".

Click here to see the video by Chintan Gohil on the baking process

Delightful Snacks

One cannot mention the word "snack" in Kashmir without trying the delicious Kachalu Chaat. Made with chunks of arbi (taro root), spices and tamarind it is tangy and also often made with aloo. In Kashmir, people also relish various varieties of stuffed Kulchas- a type flatbread. Round flat breads are cut into two and stuffed with either potatoes, soya or chickpeas along with chopped onions, tomatoes and chutneys for added zing. A very unique snack and a famous street food eat called "Kalari Kulcha" is made with traditional Kashmiri cheese, flattened and cooked in their own fat on a hot pan and served with garlic and chili chutney. Sometimes, at home people also indulge in Tomul chhot ( rotis made with rice flour) as a mid evening snack.

Kalari Kulcha - Image Source - Cox and Kings

Unique Beverages

Kashmiri noon chai and Kahwa deserve a special mention in the cuisine of J&K.

Sheer Chai or Noon chai
The word "noon" in Kashmiri language means salt. Noon chai is a popular pinkish colored salted tea prepared with black tea, milk, salt and soda bicarbonate. Kashmiri Pandits refer to this chai as "Sheer Chai", while Kashmiri Muslims refer to it as "Noon Chai" or "Namkeen Chai" both meaning salty tea. You can have Sheer Chai or Noon Chai with breads like baqerkhani.

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Kahwah is a type of green tea made with cardamom, cinnamon, saffron and almonds. Served mostly at marriages, festivals, and religious places, this chai is also known as "Maugal Chai".

Creative Commons - Saurabh Chatterjee

Non Vegetarian Delicacies

The traditional Kashmiri thali referred to as Wazwan, a grand meal that has around 30 non-veg dishes. Chefs who cook these feasts are called 'Wazas' under the supervision of the Master Chef or the VastaWaza. Kashmiri Wazwan is generally prepared for marriages and other special functions.

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Let’s look at some of the items served in a wazwan. These items are also cooked and served separately and are gems from the Kashmiri cuisine!

Main Item - Rista
The main item to be served during wazwan is rista (meatballs). Rista are roundels made out of minced mutton, which are then cooked in gravy.

Creative Commons - Oniongas

Tabak Maz
This dish is prepared from lamb meat. The ribs are marinated overnight to allow the meat to soften and are then cooked until tender. A last-minute dip in the frying pan gives it a mouth watering taste.

Image used for representation only

Seekh Kababs
This delicacy is prepared from minced meat, which is then roasted or grilled on skewers over hot coal. The kebabs are then cooked either on direct flame or pan fried in oil.

Image used for representation only

Other Dishes of Wazwan

Other famous non-veg delicacies that are served in the Wazwan are Roganjosh, Yakhni and Gushtaba.

Rogan Josh
Rogan Josh, another lamb preparation, was introduced in India by the Mughals. Browned onions, flavored spices and yogurt lend it an exotic aroma. You can relish this delicacy with rice or naan.

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Yakhni or Yoghurt Lamb Curry
Yakhni is yet another lamb preparation, cooked in yogurt based gravy. Yakhni is flavored with mawal flowers, black and green cardamoms, onion paste and dry mint leaves with aromatic fennel seeds. The dish is usually served with rice.

Traditionally known as a “dish for the Kings”, Gushtaba is minced mutton cooked in yogurt gravy and aromatic spices.

Creative Commons - Miansari66

Vegetarian Delights

Kashmir is known for delicious preparations of Rajma Chawal - curry made with kidney beans, served with rice and the best way to have them is to get yourself invited to a someone's home. Dum Aloo, a famous yogurt based dish initially prepared without garlic and onions is another known vegetarian delight often relished with hot parathas or rotis. Nadru Yakhni, another yogurt based gravy is made with lotus root with hints of green cardamom. Khatte Baingan- aubergines cooked in a tangy and spicy curry with tamarind, ginger and chili is often served a side dish. Cottage cheese or paneer is also widely used in Kashmiri cuisine and Ruangan Chaman is a favorite. Made with cubes of soft cottage cheese in a tangy tomato gravy flavored with fennel powder and spices, this dish should be relished hot! 

Dum Aloo - Creative Commons - Vinay Bavdekar

Something Sweet?

Kashmiri Shufta, a traditional dessert is made with chopped dry fruits, spices like pepper powder, cardamom & more in sugar syrup, garnished with rose petals. Roth- sweet rotis made with flour, ghee and sugar is a dessert mostly made during Kashmiri new year. Kashmiri Bakarkhani- a sweet thick roti with a crispy crust is a must try!

Shufta - Image Source - The Grand - New Delhi