Kashmir is situated at the top of India map, surrounded by some foreign countries like Pakistan, China and Tibet. Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over hundreds of years. The cuisine was then influenced by the cultures which arrived with the invasion of Kashmir by Timur from the region of modern Uzbekistan. Subsequently, it has been strongly influenced by the cuisines of the North Indian. Kashmiri cuisine is characterized by two type of cooking style- the Kashmiri Pandit and Kashmiri Muslims. Many traditional Kashmiri pundits don’t use garlic and onion in their cooking. The most notable ingredient in Kashmir cuisine is mutton (lamb), of which there are over 30 varieties.
Kashmiri food is famous all over the world for its richness. Kashmir excels in the preparation of non-vegetarian cuisine.
INGREDIENTS AND SPICES USED
Kashmir developed its own specialities in cooking. Locally grown varieties of rice are sweetly fragrant and very light. The delicious saag is made from a thick-leafed green leafy vegetable called ‘hak’ that grows throughout the year. Lotus root is also an important product for boat-dwelling people and makes a very good substitute for meat. Fresh vegetables are used in season. Morel mushrooms called as ‘guhcji’ are harvested and consumed fresh in summer.
Being the home of saffron, this colourful agent is used in the pulao and sweets. Walnuts, almonds and raisins are also added to the curries. Ghee is the medium of cooking, probably because the fat is imparted heat to the body, though mustard oil is also used.
Kashmiris drink pink salt tea nun chai (kshir chai), a bright pink beverage made with black tea, cardamom, various spices, salt and bicarbonate of soda.
This is common breakfast tea in Kashmiri households and is taken with special bakery brought fresh from the bakers (kandur). At marriage feasts, festivals, religious places and when guests are welcomed, it is traditional to serve kahwah, a green tea made with saffron, spices and almonds or walnuts. There are 21 varieties of kahwas made in different households.
Traditional Kashmiri cooking is called Wazhanwan and comprises mostly of non- vegetarian dishes. Traditional Kashmiri thali consists of Wazwan. Wazwan, a multi-course meal in the Kashmiri tradition, is treated with a great respect. Lots of labour contribute to the cooking and dishing out of a Wazwan. The traditional number of courses for the Wazwan is thirty-six, which fifteen to thirty dishes are varieties of meat.