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Kashmiri cuisine (Kashmiri: कॉशुर खयॊन / kashmiri ; Kashur khyon) is the cuisine of the Kashmir Valley region. Rice is the staple food of Kashmiris and has been so since ancient times. Meat, along with rice, is the most popular food item in Kashmir. Kashmiris consume meat voraciously. Despite being Brahmin, Kashmiri Pandits are meat eaters.
Some noted Kashmiri dishes include:
- "Qabargaah" (Kashmiri Muslims commonly refer to this dish as Tabakhmaaz)
- Shab Deg: dish cooked with turnip and meat, left to simmer overnight.
- Dum Olav/Dun Aloo: cooked with yoghurt, ginger powder, fennel and other hot spices.
- Aab Gosht
- Lyodur Tschaman
- Matschgand, lamb meatballs in a gravy tempered with red chillies.
- Modur Pulaav
- Mujh Gaad, a dish of radishes with a choice of fish.
- Rogan Josh, a lamb based dish, cooked in a gravy seasoned with liberal amounts of Kashmiri chillies (in the form a dry powder), ginger (also powdered), asafoetida and bay leaves among other ingredients. Due to the absence of onions, yoghurt is used as a thickener, and also to reduce the heat and marry the spices in the gravy.
- Yakhni, a yoghurt-based mutton gravy without turmeric or chilli powder. The dish is primarily flavoured with bay leaves, cloves and cardamom seeds. This is a mild, subtle dish eaten with rice often accompanied with a more spicy side dish.
- Harissa is a popular meat preparation made for breakfast, it is slow cooked for many hours, with spices and hand stirred.
The Kashmir Valley is noted for its bakery tradition. On the picturesque Dal Lake in Kashmir or in downtown Srinagar, bakery shops are elaborately laid out. Bakers sell various kinds of breads with a golden brown crusts topped with sesame and poppy seeds. tsot and tsochvoru are small round breads topped with poppy and sesame seeds, which are crisp and flaky, sheermal, baqerkhani (puff pastry), lavas (unleavened bread) and kulcha are also popular. Girdas and lavas are served with butter.
Kashmiri bakerkhani has a special place in Kashmiri cuisine. It is similar to a round naan in appearance, but crisp and layered, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It is typically consumed hot during breakfast.
A Wazwan is a multi-course meal in the Kashmiri Muslim tradition and treated with great respect. Its preparation is considered an art. Almost all the dishes are meat-based (lamb, chicken, fish, but never Beef). It is considered a sacrilege to serve any dishes based around pulses or lentils during this feast. The traditional number of courses for the wazwan is thirty-six, though there can be fewer. The preparation is traditionally done by a vasta waza, or head chef, with the assistance of a court of wazas, or chefs.
Wazwan is regarded by the Kashmiri Muslims as a core element of their culture and identity. Guests are grouped into fours for the serving of the wazwan. The meal begins with a ritual washing of hands, as a jug and basin called the tash-t-nari is passed among the guests. A large serving dish piled high with heaps of rice, decorated and quartered by four seekh kabab, four pieces of meth maaz, two tabak maaz, sides of barbecued ribs, and one safed kokur, one zafrani kokur, along with other dishes. The meal is accompanied by yoghurt garnished with Kashmiri saffron, salads, Kashmiri pickles and dips. Kashmiri Wazwan is generally prepared in marriages and other special functions. The culinary art is learnt through heredity and is rarely passed to outside blood relations. That has made certain waza/cook families very prominent. The wazas remain in great demand during the marriage season from May–October.
Kashmiri Chai, Noon Chai, or Sheer Chai
Kashmiris are heavy tea drinkers. The word "noon" in Kashmiri language means salt. The most popular drink is a pinkish colored salted tea called "noon chai." It is made with black tea, milk, salt and bicarbonate of soda. The particular color of the tea is a result of its unique method of preparation and the addition of soda. The Kashmiri Pandits more commonly refer to this chai as "Sheer Chai." The Kashmiri Muslims refer to it as "Noon Chai" or "Namkeen Chai" both meaning salty tea.
At marriage feasts, festivals, and religious places, it is customary to serve kahwah - a green tea made with saffron, spices, and almonds or walnuts. Over 20 varieties of Kahwah are prepared in different households. Some people also put milk in kahwah (half milk and half kahwah). This chai is also known as "Maugal Chai" by some Kashmiri Pandits from the smaller villages of Kashmir. Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits from the cities of Kashmir refer to it as Kahwah or Qahwah.
- Bamzai, Prithivi Nath Kaul (1994). Culture and Political History of Kashmir. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 243. ISBN 9788185880310.
Rice was, as now, the staple food of Kashmiris in ancient times.
- Kaw, M.K. (2004). Kashmir and It's People: Studies in the Evolution of Kashmiri Society. APH Publishing. p. 98. ISBN 9788176485371.
But perhaps the most popular items of the Kashmiri cuisine were meat and rice.
- Press, Epilogue. Epilogue, Vol 3, issue 9. Epilogue -Jammu Kashmir.
Since Kashmiris consume meat voraciously and statistics reveals that on an average 3.5 million sheep and goat are slaughtered annually for our consumption, the skin can be utilised for production.
- Dar, P Krishna (2000). Kashmiri Cooking. Penguin UK. ISBN 9789351181699.
Though Brahmins, Kashmiri Pandits have generally been great meat eaters.
- Kashmiri Meat Shabdeg
- "Culture of Anantnag". District Anantnag J&K. Archived from the original on 2009-06-19.
- "Kashmir has special confectionary - Thaindian News". Thaindian.com. 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
- "'Shier Chay'".
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