A waft of zafran, the salty sweet aroma of vanilla, earth, honey and a ting of tobacco mixed with the choicest collection of meat, pilaf and legumes gives one goosebumps as would the concept of the “Kashmiriyat” that once was the pride of the valley. The Valley, it’s pride and the concept of oneness of humanity encapsulated within the term Kashmiriyat now belong to a bygone era when Kashmir was heaven as proclaimed by Jehangir, the Mughal emperor, “Gar firdaus bar rue zamin ast, hami asto, hami asto, hami ast ..” (If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here) Jehangir and many more thereafter have been true to their words in Indiancribing Kashmir, it’s nothing short of heaven if ever there is one. The chill in the air as the soft breeze blows through the tall Chinar trees lining the lakes, hills and green meadows carrying with it the melodies of the Rubab filling each heart and soul with a feeling of being home, being amongst the ones you love and cherish. Kashmir in all its Kashmiriyat had once been home to humans sans caste, creed or religion, they had all been just Kashmiris, Pandits and Koshurs alike. They shared the hearth and their homes celebrating each festival with the gusto of brotherhood and humanity, sharing not only their joys and sorrows but also the gourmet food which was always served in one plate – the Wazwan they call it which is more about a culture than about food and eating.
The Kashmiri Wazwan is one of a kind multicourse meal where more than fourteen to thirty six dishes of the Kashmiri cuisine is served. This is specially prepared during weddings, parties, festivals where people gather to enjoy the meal together irrespective of their religious, social or financial status, the last and worn out strands of a special Kashmir which was then but no longer exists, the Kashmiriyat that once was an epitome of communal and religious harmony but now dead. Be it the language of the Kashmiri people who made this heaven their home – Sanskrit and Persian, be it the religion or the cultural identities – Pandits and the Koshurs, the land was a juxtaposition of cultures and identities living in the rosy framework called Kashmiriyat which was but an idea, an ideal adopted by all till the turn of the twentieth century when religious disparity surfaced and then of course politics took over the entire heavenly space of Kashmir tearing down the ideals upon which the same had flourished down the ages. Today Kashmiriyat has been reduced to a mere word uttered sometimes in history classrooms or the Addas of the so called liberals and libetarians, the idea is dead and the ideals buried along with those who had to leave their homeland and those who were left behind with broken dreams. All that remains are the tall chinars, the soft breeze still blows though and the Wazwan steps each of its faltered step somewhere on the tables of the royals and the food festivals of the Capital where it’s more about cuisine, taste, presentation than culture as it stood for in the times of the Kashmiriyat. Wazwan served on delicate bone china and consumed with silver cutlery misses the point completely, compares not a bit to the one plate serving on brass thalis where a group sits together close to the earth to share a meal on one plate without hesitation or shame of their cultural or religious identities.
Mutton Keema – 300 gms
Elaichi Powder – 1 tsp
Ginger – 1 inch piece (chopped)
Blanched Apricot – a few (Indianeeded)
Curd / Dahi / Yogurt – 1 cup
Milk – ¼ cup
Bay leaf / Tez Patta – 1
Cinnamon Stick / Dalchini – 1 inch piece
Cloves / Laung – 3
Fennel seeds / Saunf – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds / Jeera – 1 tsp
Dry Ginger Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder / Haldi – ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Ghee for cooking
Mix the mutton Keema, cardomom powder and ginger in a food processor and mix thoroughly. Once done pat the mixture I ot small cylinders while pressing the blanched, Indianeeded apricot into the cylinders. Place separately.
Heat the ghee in a kardai and add the bay leaf, cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves and fennel seeds. Let it sizzle for a few seconds. Add the whisked curd to the spices along with one cup of water and let it simmer over low flames. Add the tumeric powder, dry ginger powder and salt to taste. Add the milk and stir the same and let it simmer for a while.
Drop the Keema cylinders into this curry and let it cook for 20 minutes over slow flames.
Serve hot with Naan / Roti / Phuklas.
Mutton – 500 grams
Milk – 250 ml.
Cardamom crushed- 1 tsp
Cloves – 3
Cardamom – 3
Mace – 1
Salt to taste.
Fennel powder – 1 tblsp
Ginger powder – 1 tsp
Garlic crushed – 4
Brown onion paste – 2 cups.
Pepper powder – ½ tsp
Ghee – 2 tblsp
Water as required.
Place the mutton, crushed garlic, Ginger Powder, fennel powder, mace, cardomom, cloves, salt and water in a thick bottomed vessel. Mix well, cover it with a lid and let it cook over low flames till the meat is tender.
Place the milk in a separate bowl mix the crushed cardomom and let it boil to half.
Heat oil in a frying pan, add the brown onion pastw, the tender mutton pieces and stir fry for sometime. Add the pepper powder, salt and pour the reduced milk and mutton stock and let it simmer for five minutes.
Serve hot with rice.
Spinach – 500 grams
Garlic cloves – 10
Dry Red Chillies – 5
Cumin Seeds – ½ tsp
Red Chilli Powder – ½ tsp
Fennel Powder – ½ tsp
Asafoetida (heeng) – a pinch
Mustard Oil – 2 tblsp
Salt to taste
Wah the spinach / palak leaves thoroughly, chop coarsely and set aside. Peel the garlic cloves.
Heat the mustard oil in a pressure cooker till it starts to smoke. Add cumin seeds and the peeled garlic cloves .. Stir till golden brown. Then add the dry red chilies and sauté for another 20 seconds.
Now add the heeng, fennel powder and red chili powder. Mix well and add the chopped palak greens and salt. Mix well and stir for 4-5 minutes. Pour half a cup of water, cover the lid and cook it for two whistles.
Serve hot with rice or chapattis.
Paneer – 200 gms (cut into big cubes)
Tomatoes – 4 (roughly chopped)
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Ajwain – 1 tsp
Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Fennel Powder – 1 tsp
Dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Mustard Oil – 2 tblsp
Salt – to taste
Heat mustard oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Pan fry the paneer cubes till golden drwon in color. Immerse these golden cubes of paneer in a bowl of warm water mixed with tumeric powder to keep them soft. In the same pan add the cumin seeds in the left over oil, let it splutter and then add the copped tomatoes. Cook and mash the tomato till it forms a paste. Add the fennel, dry ginger, kashmiri red chilli powder and mix well. Then add the paneer cubes along with the tumeric water and let it boil. Add the garam masala and salt and leave it to simmer for 15 minutes or till the oil separates on top.
Serve hot with steamed rice.
Baby potatoes – 15 to 20
Onion – 1 chopped finely
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Curd – 1 cup
Kashmiri Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder – 1/2 tsp
Fresh Cream – 3 tbsp
Cashew paste – from 5 cashews
Tomato puree – from 3 tomatoes
Coriander leaves – 1 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – as required
Wash the baby potatoes and prick them with a tooth pick. Boil these in salt water till tender. Remove the peels. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry these boiled potatoes till golden and crisp. Drain and keep aside.
Heat the mustard oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add Kashmiri dry red chilies, cloves, black cardamom, green cardamom and peppercorns and fry for a few seconds. In the meantime mix the yogurt, Kashmiri red chilli powder, turmeric powder, dry ginger powder, garam masala powder, fennel powder and all purpose flour in a bowl. Pour this mixture into the pan and keep mixing. Let it cook for a while before adding the fried baby potatoes and a cup of water. Cover and let it simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
Serve hot with Naan or Roti.
Pearl red onions – 250 gms
Mustard seeds – 1 tblsp
Fenugreek seed / methi seeds – ⅓ tsp
Heeng – a pinch
Kashmiri chili powder – 4 tsp
Whole coriander seeds – ¼ tsp
Salt – 1 tblsp
Mustard oil – 1 cup
Rinse the onions well. Discard the skins and let it dry overnight.
Crush the spices / seeds (mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, and whole coriander seeds) in a moratr and pestle.
Add the crushed spices, Kashmiri chili powder, salt, dried onions and 2 cup oil in a mixing bowl. Mix well and transfer the mixture to a glass jar with lid. Add the remaining ¼ cup oil to it.
Cover the glass jar with a lid and keep it in direct sunlight for 4 days.
Store in the refrigerator to retain crunchiness.
Daikon Radish / Mooli Grated – 2 cups
Walnut / Akhrot – 2 tblsp
Green Chili / Hari Mirch chopped – 1 tsp
Fresh Coriander / Hara Dhaniya – 2 tbslp
Lemon Juice – 5 tsp
Dry Ginger Powder – ¼ tsp
Kashmiri Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin / Jeera – ½ tsp
Asafoetida / Hing – ¼ tsp
Carom Seeds / Ajwain – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Grate the radish with a thick grater.
Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin, carom and asafoetida.
When the cumin start crackling add chopped green chilies, chili powder and the grated radish. Stir fry for 2 minutes on high flames.
Add salt and ginger powder and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
Remove from fire and let it cool.
Add the lemon juice, crushed walnuts and chopped coriander.