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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Taste of the Valley :)

Rajma Chawal :)
When I told my friend that I love Kashmiri food this is what she said, Sure you would love it since you love sweet food.  I could totally understand why my friend said that because just as her even I thought Kashmiri food was sweet, until I really tasted my first ever home cooked Kashmiri dish which was Rogan Josh.  It not only blew me away but I was trying hard to look for onions and tomatoes and did not find a trace of it.  Also knowing how much I love eating and this passion is not confined to a particular territory (anything that does not threaten to eat me... I eat), it is really surprising that I have not done a post on food :) :)and what better time to post it with all the festivities around.... so here it goes.  For all those who think Kashmiri Pulav served in restaurants is a representation of Kashmiri cuisine you are in for a change of mind and a treat with this post.

Kashmiri cuisine similar to all cuisines is influenced by the climate of the land and availability of local produce.  The food was primarily influenced by the Hindus living in the valley i.e the Kashmiri Pundits.  This food then went through stages of evolution and in course was influenced by Persian & Middle Eastern culture.  Kashmiri cuisine is known as Kashur Khyon and Hindus and Muslims in the valley have a different style of preparing it. Kashmiri Pundits are both vegetarians and non-vegetarians and Muslims are mainly the meat eaters though some might not be as a matter of choice.

Wazwan is a very ceremonial Muslim cooking.  It is restricted to special occasions and functions.  A Wazwan consists of more than 36 items out of which atleast 30 are non vegetarian dishes.  It is served in a group of 4-5 people.  The Kashmiri Pandit cooking uses yoghurt and spices like turmeric, asafotedita with almost zero use of garlic and onions, but Muslim cooking uses onion, garlic and ginger extensively.  Though both cultures use meat for cooking, there is a distinction between parts of the meat used.  Mostly dishes in both Hindu and Muslim cuisine are same and the difference is spotted in the cooking and serving styles.  

Dishes with chilly & turmeric
Since Kashmir is extremely cold during winters with heavy snowfall, it is common to have dried food.  Usually certain vegetables or fishes are dried during the summer and stored underground to be used in winters (this process is also something done in NORDICS region).  Traditional vegetarian dishes include Paneer (the paneer is mostly if not always home made), Dum Aaloo(there is no cream or nuts involved here, only spices), Lotus stem and not to forget the famous Rajma Chawal :) :).  Greens or leafy vegetables are also included in the vegetarian menu.  Non-vegetarian dishes include the famous Rogan Josh, Kabargah(lamb ribs marinated and fried in Ghee), Yakhni(veg/non-veg dish prepared in yoghurt), Gaad(deep fried fish curry) etc., Kashmiri cuisine uses mainly mustard oil in their cooking but at the same time dishes are also made using vegetable oil or ghee.    Cooking is done using the famous Kashmiri Chilly.  The common spices used are dried ginger powder, turmeric, asafotedia, cardamom, clove and bay leaves.  Fenugreek in powder form or whole is a very important component of Kashmiri cuisine.  Talking about spices a very interesting fact is that, Kashmiris do not use turmeric and chilly powder in the same dish.  They are used seperately to give different colours.  Either chilly powder or turmeric powder is used.  In dishes where turmeric powder is used, it is common to use few spoons of milk to give that soupy flavour.

Sheer Chai
If you think it is only the food that is exotic wait till you hear about the kashmiri tea :) :).  Kashmiris drink a lot of tea probably because of the cold weather there.  There is a salted tea which they have(I can see you expression, I had the same :D :D), it is called Sheer Chai and is pink in colour.  The pink colour is because of the soda bicarbonate.  It is a mixture of tea leaves, milk, salt and the soda.

Then there is Khaiwa, it is similar to our green tea prepared with sugar, cinnamon powder, cardamom, almonds and walnuts...and take my word for it...it is the tastiest tea I have ever had :) :)

Because of migration one may expect some changes to the cuisine, but no that is not the case.  There are local dealers who supply the Kashmiris with their array of spices.  Kashmiris keep their culture and cuisine very close to their heart.  In all my visits to Kashmiri homes I am yet to eat something non-kashmiri :) :), unless ofcourse if you visit our home you may find some Keralite dishes now :D :D.  Do not be surprised if you are transported to an entirely delicious world while savoring Kashmiri food, afterall Kashmir is called the Paradise then should the cuisine not be heavenly :) :)


  1. wow...
    beautiful post... unable to say about the food, due to fast... otherwise my taste buds will be activate... ;) :P
    but honestly... thank you so much fro sharing all the such... :)

  2. I love kashmiri cuisine like rajma gogji, rajma chawal, nadru yakhni....
    its navratras and i am on fruit diet leave aside normal food and going through your post just made me yearn for this food more :P

  3. Yummm!! Rajma Chawal is one of my favourites. Khaiwa looks inviting.On my way out to check out for its recipe:)

  4. Ok, I am happy that you posted about kashmiri food but I am totally broke because I LOU Kahwa :'(

    When I was lil, there was this kashmiri teacher in our school and since we lived in a small teachers colony (mum-dad teaching) I used to visit them quite often. She wore those looong kashmiri earrings. I tasted Kahwa for the first time in their house, I tasted dum aloo too and loved it.

    Then flash forward, in 2009 I tried Kahwa at Cha-Bar in bangalore leela and that's so orgasmic.

    My mum cooks the best rajma chawal and now I am missing all of the above >:< if it was an obligatory read, I would have skipped, but I read because its yours and NOW I DEMAND KAHWA RIGHT NOW :'(


    Chintu Singh

  5. @ Pooja: welcome to SuKupedia :)glad u liked the post

    @ Skywalker: aapki tapasya mein bhang dal diya iss post ne :D :D

    @ Pooja: mine too luv Rajma Chawal and Kashmiri recipe does not involve onion nd tomatoes yet it is so tasty :) :) Have given the recipe for Khaiwa below...dekh le..

    @ Chintu Singh: thank u hai ji for reading :) best option is come to stockholm :D :D or else just try this receipe....put some elaichi powder, crushed badam and kesar in a big coffee mug. Add a pinch of green tea to boiling water with sugar. when it becomes light green in color pour it in the cup and sip it :) :)

  6. Very insightful Sunita! :-) I wasn't too familiar with Kashmiri cuisine, but this was a treat to read! :-) Also, thanks for your comment on my blog. Great to know that you to are a fan of Steve Jobs! :-)

  7. Thanks for the recipe Sunita:) I'll try it out and let you know how it turned out to be:)

  8. Thrilled to see your post on Kashmiri Cusine....Thanks for bringing this to light that whatever the various restaurants serve on the name of "Kashmiri cusine" it is no way even close to it...

  9. Very informative post sunita, I have eaten some home cooked kashmiri foods, because one of my good friends is married to a kashmiri guy and also my ex-neighbor was kashmiri, and the food that I've eaten at their homes was always delicious...
    I think fennel seed powder and dry ginger powder are both used extensively in kashmiri cooking, if I'm not wrong...
    I'm very interested in cooking and always on the lookout for new and interesting foods, so feel free to pass along an authentic kashmiri recipe...or maybe even keralite will do... ;-)

  10. Sunita, I can't read this post, Indian food pictures that too Kashmiri, I'm starving now...Now, I have to eat panjeere which I made this week and on wednesday, I will cook something nice for myself (Navratras are over then)...

  11. @ Rohan: glad u liked my post.. and talking about Steve jobs I could practically have an extra marital affair with that guy.. i just love him :D :D :D
    @ Pooja u r welcome dear
    @ Ritz: coming from a hardcore Kashmiri like you..I am certainly humbled :) :)
    @ Anjali: ya u r right fenugreek and dry ginger as I already mentioned in my post.. and will send u some recipes ok..:)
    @ Saru: i cannot get To Kalon out of my mind...and this is a revenge.. this food pix will torture you... mmmuuuhhhaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahah

  12. anything that doesnt eat you - hahaha
    we are similar :)

    i havent tried any authentic kashmiri food & i dont think kashmiri pulao served in bangalore restaurants counts as one

    kashmiris hold their cuisine dear to their heart - liked reading that

    are yet to serve anything non-kashmiri in their homes??!!! hmmm

  13. @ Suju: ha yaar they are very protective when it comes to their dishes, probably because they had to leave their own land now they dont want to be deprived of their culture. And about trying Kashmiri food ...hello u r welcome to my house anytime :) :)


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