This post is for my parents - my dad who was almost a Kashmiri himself, been born and brought up in Srinagar, (may his soul rest in peace), and for my mother, because of whom I am what I am today.
Most of my ancestors had lived for some time or the other in the Kashmir Valley, and as long as I can remember- despite being a typically punjabi family, kashmiri cuisine had firmly interwoven itself in the weft and warp of our lives.I made Rogan Josh for the first time when I was 11yrs old!.
As a child I remember, there used to be lavish parties thrown by my mother, who is an extremely gifted cook herself ,and for some very special guests "WAZWAN" was prepared. Let me give you a little introduction about wazwan, it is a unique concept and means "WAZ"-the chef person with the rare culinary skills passed on through generations, an artist who is obsessively and passionately involved with his art and who is one of the priveledged few flag bearers of this great Kashmiri tradition,"WAN" is the shop with the abundant supplies of meats and delicacies.
the vasta waza
My mother learnt much of Kashmiri Cuisine from the "VASTA WAZA"(head-chef) who is assisted by a court of waza's, the title conferred on a chosen few after years of apprenticeship.
The traditional Wazwan consists of 36 courses, each dish has it's own tradition and brings to mind- memories of momentous events and of special occassions.
the traditional preparation of wazwan
Thus the Wazwan is not a simple meal but a ceremony, first the "TASH-T-NARI" is passed around so that you can wash your hands, it would be sacrilege to use anything but your fingers to eat this meal.
People sit in fours to eat this meal, which is considered auspicious, I remember being a part of this meal a number of times. A large plate called "TARAMI" is used(my mom has a collection of these as well as of samovar's), which is heaped with rice and the first few courses,each successive course follows separately to allow you to savour the distinct flavors.
The cuisine of Kashmir has evolved over hundred's of years, the major influence was of Kashmiri pandit's -who use a lot of yogurt and turmeric and no onions or garlic, food is mainly cooked in mustard oil.The typical Kashmiri dishes are-
- Chaman qaliya (cottage-cheese squares in gravy)
- Dum Oluv (potatoes cooked in yogurt gravy)
- Nadir Yakhn (lotus stem in a delicate yogurt sauce)
- Hak(with nadir/vangan) (a local variety of greens)
- Nadir Palak (lotus stem with spinach)
- Mujh Chetin (a sharp radish and walnut chutney)
- Rista (meatballs in a fiery red gravy)
- Rogan Josh (tender lamb cooked with kashmiri spices)
- Tabak Maaz (ribs of lamb simmered in yogurt till tender, then fried, can be served as a snack/side-dish)
- Daniwal Korma (a mutton curry with lots of coriander)
- Aab Gosht (spicy lamb curry)
- Marchwangan Korma (an extremely hot lamb preparation)
- Kabab (minced meat roasted on skewers over hot coals)
- Gushtaba (a velvety textured meatball in white yogurt gravy,a speciality)
- Yakhni (delicately spiced yogurt curry)
- Phirni (a dessert of rice flour thickened in milk set in earthenware cups with nuts and "varq"-silver leaf)
wedding wazwan-pounding meat for gushtaba's
Phirni is the dessert served at the end of the meal,a delicious preparation of rice flour and milk, the entire meal is washed down with "KEHVA" served in the "SAMOVAR"-green tea flavored with spices and served with slivered almonds in it, truly warming!
To date all of the above dishes are prepared in my mom's and uncle's home and will be posting some authentic recipes in the coming weeks.
Yesterday we went for an authentic Kashmiiri meal to Dilli Haat(opp. INA Market),New Delhi, since this is the only place in Delhi serving Wazwan, and maybe a few others.My uncle,aunt and cousin ordered a typical meal, enjoy the pics.
the kashmiri stall
Rogan josh - lamb cooked in fiery red curry
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