“If there’s heaven anywhere on the earth, It’s Kashmir”, that’s how legends describe Kashmir’s beauty that earns its charm from snow-clad mountains, snowfall in winter, lush green valleys, series of deodar and oak trees guarding the valley and the enchanting view of shikaras on the beautiful Dal Lake. But there are more reasons that make Kashmir heaven on earth and its food is one of the reasons for sure. You might have heard about the famous Kahwa, Kesar or Rogan Josh from Kashmir but there are a lot more authentic Kashmiri dishes to add to your menu before you can pick the best one.
Kashmir doesn’t have a reputation of high-class restaurants but you don’t need a super expensive dining room of sophisticated interior to enjoy mouth-watering dishes. Kashmir is all about enjoying and embracing what nature has to offer. We’ve brought to you 9 authentic Kashmiri dishes that you must try in your lifetime.
Kashmiri Dum Aloo
If you judge Kashmir on the basis of prejudices, you might think that only non-vegetarian food is famous in Kashmir which is not true. Just like the rest of the country, potato is an integral part of the Kashmir diet and Kashmiri Dum Aloo is one of the tastiest and most popular dishes from the region. At first, fresh potatoes are boiled and fried until they turn golden red. Then they are cooked in a red gravy that gives the dish its flavour. Some people also prepare a thick gravy from yoghurt for the dish. It is a dish that is prepared on almost every special occasion.
Kashmir is different from the rest of India in many ways and Kaahwa is one such difference. While the rest of India is crazy about tea made from milk, Kashmiris prefer to start their mornings or evenings with a cup of traditional Kaahwa. Traditional Kashmiri green tea is boiled for a few minutes and cardamom and cinnamon are added for a refreshing flavour. Finely ground almonds are also added to give it a rich taste. The drink is prepared without milk.
Kulch is a bread that you can find in any part of India. The only thing is that each state has its own style of making Kulcha and Kashmir too have its unique way of making Kulcha. A popular breakfast dish in the region, Kulcha is made from a fine mixture of wheat flour and refined flour. After the dough is prepared,round-shaped Kulchas are prepared and baked. It is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. A slice of butter is spread over it and the dish is served with tea or Kaahwa.
Chaaman is a gravy dish prepared with paneer (cottage cheese) and is a common dish in almost all Kashmiri households. The gravy for the dish is prepared with onion. Tomatoes and cream. A hint of Turmeric is used to give the gravy a rich yellow colour. After the curry is prepared, cottage cheese cubes are fried and then boiled in a pot of water that contains several spices including cloves, cardamom and fennel powder. Then the cottage cheese cubes are taken out and immersed into the tasty curry.
Just like Kahwa, Sheer Chai is another unique and traditional Kashmiri beverage which is also known as noon chai. Noon in noon chai stands for salt. Unlike kaahwa, this beverage contains milk and special kinds of tea leaves are used to make it. A pinch of baking soda and several dry fruits are also added to it to get a rich taste. It is traditionally served with a special kind of noodle called feni.
Al Yakhni is one of the most common gravy dishes that is made in every Kashmiri household frequently. When you hear of bottle gourd, you don’t generally think of the lip-smacking taste. But, Al Yakhni will change your perception about bottle gourd forever. Bottle gourd is grated and round disks are made just like kofta. A gravy from yoghurt and fennel is prepared which is thick in nature. Cardamom and saunth are added for authentic taste and the disks are immersed in the lip-smacking gravy.
A large portion of the Kashmiri population comprises the Kashmiri Pandit community that is spread all across the country. Roth is a special Kashmiri dish mainly originating from the Kashmiri Pandit community. It is mainly prepared during special occasions such as the Kashmiri New Year. Roth is basically a sweet flatbread that is prepared using flour and sugar. Butter of Ghee is used for preparing the dish.
Kashmir has its own share of green leafy vegetables too and Haakh is a common Kashmiri saag prepared mostly from the leafy portion of maunj or Knol Knol. It is also known as wild cabbage. If you get bored of spicy and oily dishes, Haakh can turn out to be a saviour for your tongue as well as your stomach. It is served along with rice and curd mainly.
The list couldn’t be complete without a traditional Kashmiri sweet dish and Modur Pulao is just the one. All the ingredients used in the dish are Kashmiri. It is prepared from Kashmiri Basmati rice, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, sugar and loads of dry fruits. All these ingredients are cooked well in ghee. People with a sweet tooth are surely gonna love this dish.