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The Unexplored Taste of the Kashmir Valley

India is a vast and diverse country. There are 29 states and every state has different cultural and food habits. In East we have Macher Jhol, Shorshe Illish,etc. from Bengal; Idli, Dosa, Sambar, Payasam, etc. from down South; Dhokla, Bardoli ki Khichdi, Thepla, etc from Western state Gujrat and Yakhni, Wazwan, etc from up North Jammu and Kashmir. India has loads of varieties from each of 29 states and every state has different cuisine all together. In Kashmiri Cuisine there are two types of cuisines. One being food prepared in traditional Kashmiri Muslim household and second being food prepared in traditional Kashmiri Pandit household.

Kashmiri pandits are the oldest inhabitants of Kashmir Valley and introduced Turmeric, Yoghurt and Asafoetida (Hing) to Indian cuisine. Kashmiri Pandit food doesn’t include onion, garlic, eggs, tomato, chicken, etc. Some of the main ingredients used in Kashmiri Pandit cuisine are asafoetida (hing), dry ginger powder, mustard oil, Kashmiri red chilli powder, yoghurt, whole spices to name a few. Most of the dishes are cooked on low heat. Most of the dishes are eaten with steamed rice as it is the staple food of Kashmir Valley.

So let’s go through few of the mouth-watering, sumptuous and delectable authentic and traditional cuisine of Kashmiri Pandits:

1. Rogan Josh – This dish gets its name from Persian words Rogan which means “oil” and Josh means “intense heat”. Mutton is cooked in aromatic Kashmiri red chilli powder along with other herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom mace (javitri) and bay leaves. Mutton leg pieces are mixed with curd and fried in mustard oil. Once the curd dries, it is cooked on low flame with addition of asafoetida (hing), cumin and cloves till brown. The gravy is with addition of water, dry ginger powder, aniseed powder, asafoetida and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Mutton is added to the same and cooked on low flame till tender.

Rogan Josh

Photo credit: www.matamaal.com

2.  Kaliya – This healthy, nutritious yet mouth-watering dish has unique combination. Mutton is cooked in turmeric based gravy with aromatic spices and herbs. Mutton is shallow fried in mustard oil with addition of asafoetida and cloves. Once it’s done water, asafoetida, turmeric powder, bay leaves, cumin seeds, fennel and cinnamon is added and cooked till tender. Milk, garam masala and cardamom are added and boiled at end.

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Photo credit: www.instagram.com/matamaal/

3. Kabargah – This yummy starter is mutton ribs pressure cooked in raw milk and spices and then drained out. Meat is added to boiled mix of milk and water with spices such as asafoetida, garam masala, fennel powder. All is cooked on low flame till tender and drained out. The ribs are dipped in yoghurt mix (salt and garam masala are mixed in yougurt). Then ribs are fried in mustard oil/ghee till crisp/brown.

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Photo credit: www.matamaal.com

4. Palak Nadur – Palak Nadur is mouth – watering vegetarian dish which is a unique mix of fresh spinach and lotus stem. They are cooked with spices and herbs. Boiled and mashed spinach is cooked in mustard oil with addition of cumin and asafoetida. Once spinach is blended, fried pieces of lotus stem is added and cooked on low flame for a min or so. It is garnished with Vaer Masala. Vaer masala is authentic Kashmiri masala mix which has all the spices like Kashmiri red chilli powder and all the other seven spices.

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Photo credit: www.matamaal.com

5. Chok Wagun – This is real kicker to the taste buds. It is tamarind based brinjal delicacy cooked in sour and spicy gravy. The brinjals are cut length wise, fried and then cooked in mustard oil with tamarind pulp, Kashmiri chilli powder, cloves, asafoetida and dry ginger powder.

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Photo credit: www.matamaal.com

6. Dum Aaloo – This authentic dish is named so because the baby potatoes are cooked under Dum or pressure. In this cooking method, the food is cooked under pressure in its juices. Boiled and peeled potatoes are poked all over with toothpick so that holes are visible. Once done deep fry till crisp and light. The gravy is made by adding dry ginger powder, aniseed powder, asafoetida and Kashmiri red chilli powder and water. Potatoes are added to gravy and cooked on low flame till done.

Dum Aaloo

Photo credit: www.matamaal.com

I have written articles for Food Blogger’s Association Of India. To read more on their website click here.

I am sure you would have enjoyed knowing the diversity in Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine!!

P.S. This article has been written by me with inputs from Ms. Nalini Sadhu, owner Matamaal Restaurant, Gurgaon, Haryana. Her website is http://www.matamaal.com/

Written by Ekta Agarwal

Hello everyone!! I am Ekta Agarwal from Hyderabad, India. Welcome to my blog where I share my recipes (tried and tested), interesting write ups on herbs, spices, cuisines and dining experiences.

Comments (One comment)

  • March 27, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    It’s about time somebody wrote about delicious yet relatively unexplored cuisines from across our country. Thank you for sharing this. Looking forward to the next article!

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