Kashmiri food is distinguished by aromatic spices and the exquisite taste and flavour of this fabulous cuisine have won over the hearts of millions across the country as well as in the whole world. The aromatic spices like cardamom, clove, cinnamon, Kashmiri saffron or kesar and aniseed are added to bring the exclusive flavour to the delicious Kashmiri dishes. Having originated from the northern state of Kashmir Kashmiri food means the rich and royal delicious dishes usually cooked in ghee.
Today what we relish in the restaurants as Kashmiri food is not the same as it was years ago; it has evolved over the years. The food what was once highly influenced by the usual food of the Kashmiri pundits, has adopted the cooking styles of Persia, Afghanistan and Central Asia. The Kashmiri food is distinguished by extensive use of yoghurt and turmeric. It is the splendid aromatic flavor of the food and fabulous cooking that makes the dishes so much alluring that everybody is left yearning for more.
Kashmiri cuisine has more non vegetarian dishes than other cuisines and this is mainly due to the strong influence of the pundits of Kashmir who are mainly meat eaters. Although an all time favourite to the non vegetarians, Kashmiri cuisine also offers some lip-smacking vegetarian dishes that are simply worth trying out. Like many of the other cuisine of India, Kashmiri cuisine does not make much use of onion and garlic.
The creamy touch of Kashmiri dishes come from curd. The flavour of meat dishes get enhanced by asafoetida (Hing) while addictive spices like dry ginger and aniseed (Saunf) are used to add more taste to it. To make the dish pungent excessive quantity of ginger is used. Saffron, the colourful flavouring agent is used extensively in Kashmiri dishes and this region is also the leading producer and exporter of Saffron. With is amazing aroma, it makes the dishes all the more alluring.
Traditional Kashmiri thali consisting of Wazwan, encompasses around 36 dishes. Wazwan demands a lot of preparation and it requires substantial time and effort for making this special dish. Big family occasions or festivities are great way of enjoying Wazwan. In the Kashmiri dishes, especially in the curries, we see a regular use of curries. Though Kashmiri dishes are prepared using ghee, the urban population is using mustard oil as its alternative as high fat in ghee can cause health problems. Kashmiri rice pulao is famous all over the country because of its light and aromatic nature. The world acclaimed Kashmiri cuisines like Rogan Josh, Shami Kabab, Kabaab, Kashmiri Chicken, Dum Aloo are unique in taste and flavour.
The typical Kashmiri vegetarian dishes encompass Nadeir yakhean (lotus stem), Nadier Palak, the Razmah goagji, Choek vangan, Dama Oluv, Veth tsaman and Ladyar Tsaman. The non-vegetarian dishes include Rogan Josh, Matshgand, Chamani Qaliyan, Kabargah, Aab Gosht, Gushtaba, Gaad and Shab Deg Kashmiri Yakhni.
If you have sweet tooth, there are lots of lip-smacking desserts from Kashmir to delight your taste buds. The desserts like Shufta, Phirni, Panjeeri, Kasaar, Sevaiyya. Shakar Pareh and many more are worth cherishing.
Sandeep Arora is a senior chef who has been working as the Chief Chef in the top hotels of India for twelve years now. He has written many articles on south delhi restaurants. In this article he is sharing some interesting facts with us about Kashmiri food.