گر فردوس بار رو ا زمین است ہمیں است-و ہمیں است-و ہمیں است
‘gar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast- Amir Khusrao
The couplet by the famous poet- Amir Khusrao means, “If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this” and its truly said so. The beauty of the state is incoherent with the seasons and changes every day with the rising sun.
I present a brief Gourmet’s list for a short stay at Srinagar, the capital city of J&K.
In the Kashmiri language, waz means ‘cook‘ or ‘cooking’ and wan means ‘shop‘. It comprises of numerous meals but usually has an upper limit of thirty-six courses that may vary between fifteen and thirty can be preparations of meat, cottage cheese and lentils, cooked overnight under the supervision of a master chef called a vaste waze. Guests are seated in groups of four and share the meal out of a large copper platter called the traem. For Kashmiri Muslims, the meal begins with invoking the name of Allah, for Kashmiri Brahmins the name of Lord Rudra and a ritual washing of hands in a basin called the Tash-t-naer, which is taken around by attendants.
The major meals in a Wazwaan are:
- Maithi maaz
- Rista (meatballs in a red gravy)
- Lahabi kabab or Moachi kabab (mutton shami kababs cooked in yogurt)
- Waza kokur (two halves or two full chicken cooked whole)
- Daeni phoul (mutton dish)
- Doudha ras (mutton cooked in sweet milk gravy)
- Rogan josh (tender lamb cooked with Kashmiri spices)
- Tabak maaz (ribs of lamb simmered in yogurt till tender, then fried)
- Daniwal korma (a mutton curry with coriander)
- Waza palak (green spinach cooked with small mutton balls known as paliki riste)
- Aab gosh (lamb cooked in milk curry)
- Marchwangan korma (an extremely spicy lamb dish)
- Kabab (minced meat roasted on skewers over hot coals)
- Gushtaba (a velvety textured meatball in white yogurt gravy)
- Yakh’n (delicately spiced yogurt curry)
- Ruwangan chhaman (cheese squares with tomato gravy)
- Dum aelva (potatoes cooked in yogurt gravy)
- Dum aloo
- Muji chetin or Mooli akhrot chutney (a sharp radish and walnut chutney)
- Phirni (Sweet Dish)
There are many places to try Waazwan but the best place in Srinagar is Hotel Grand, near Pick and Choose, Polo View Road.
The Waazwan served here consists of Tabak-Maaz, Goshtaba, Rista, Roghan Josh, Maithi Maaz, Seekh Qawab served with Kashmiri Rice in a platter for one. The cost is pretty reasonable and the preparation is mouth-watering. Ambience is warm and cozy and a must dine in place for Waazwan.
Kanti literally means small pieces. Chicken kanti is a very famous snack- meal in Kashmir. It may seem like a variant of Chilli-Chicken but is a lot different. It is taken with Naan or toasted bread slices.
I tried Chicken Kanti at many places but the best is served at the Canteen of Kashmir University. The canteen usually operates near lunch time.
This is one of my favourite Kashmiri snack. Tujj is a variant of mutton tikka with a variety of spices and served with pita bread along with different types of chutney. It is served on the seekh itself. The best place to eat Tujj is Imran Cafeteria near Dal-gate.
The Moonlight Bakery, near Hatrick Restaurant- opposite to Sir Syed Gate of Kashmir University, Hazratbal.
Harissa is a thick paste like meal. Cooked overnight usually and considered a very effort taking dish is the tastiest ever. It comprises of slow cooked mutton with rice-lentils paste in lots of spices and flavours and not to mention-Safforn.
The best harissa is available in the down-town area. This dish closely resembles Haleem- a North Indian cuisine.
Kashmir is incomplete without Qahwa- The safforn tea. One may find it anywhere in Srinagar. A fine blend of saffron with cardamom, cinnamon and sugar topped- up with finely sliced Almonds and Cashew. An aroma that soothes the soul and strengthens the immunity at the same time.
The perfect medicine for the cold weather here.
A very crisp, deep-fried, gigantic sized Paratha is served with rich flavoured, dry fruit laden Sooji Halwa soaked in Ghee. This delicacy is not a Kashmiri Signature dish but is widely popular among locals. Although Kashmiri natives have very less affection to sweets but this very thing is enjoyed a lot.
One may find it in the street markets near Hazratbal Shrine. The famous one is located on the main entrance of the Shrine.
The Nu’n Chai or the Kashmiri Chai is a Salty & Pink milk tea. The taste cannot be imagined just by reading about it, one has to try it. It takes a while to accustom to the new taste but once its done, it tastes better. Usually served with Bakarkhani- a loaf of sweet &salty bread.
Apart from these, Lal Gosht is also one thing thats needs to be tasted by your buds.
The Kashmiri Cusine is derived from the Arabian cuisine and shares a lot of similarity to its ancestor- from the method to the taste nearly everything is similar. It is the best of what I have ever had.