Known as ‘heaven on Earth’ by the kings in the olden days, the beautiful valleys, mountains and the lakes are not the only that catch our attention, it is the- FOOD. Kashmir is not heavenly only because of the scenery but also because of the cuisine.
Considered one of the signature dishes of the Kashmir valley, it is a must try dish for all lamb lovers. It is made with aromatic spices, yoghurt and caramelized onions. It is a recipe introduced to India by the Mughals. It is low in fat and thus can be tried by those who love meat but hate the calorie. Eat it with Naan or rice, you will surely earn for more.
This dish is a must try for all vegetarians. While most of the dishes in Kashmir cuisine are predominantly Non-vegetarian, this is a dish that is loved by both the parties alike. Dum Aloo or Dum Olav is prepared with small potatoes and spices such fennel, garam masala and other such hot spices to give it a taste suited for everyone’s palate. Have it with rotis or naan and I’m sure you will have tasted a little piece of heaven (well, you see I am particularly biased with potatoes).
If you want to have that one dish that represents the taste of whole of Kashmir then Yakhni is the dish for you. Made with lamb and a yoghurt based curry and few spices, it is a simple but elegant dish. Best suited for those who like to have the taste of lamb predominate the dish. Have it with Kashmiri basmati rice, to get that real Kashmir feeling.
Since Kashmir has a number of lakes, lotus flower has a major role in the diet of the Kashmiri. Nadur Churma is one such delicacy involving the lotus stem. These fried lotus stems give the classic French fries a run for their money. Being rich in protein these are the most favorite past time snacks of the Kashmiri. Best suited for those who love French Fries but hate the fat.
A type of herbal tea which is prepared with special tea leaves and saffron. It is often known as Kashmiri Green Tea, despite the fact that it is actually orange in colour. It is rich in antioxidants. Have it on a cold winter day and you are sure to be benefitted.
This is the most loved breakfast of the Kashmiri. Kind of a bread prepared with Maida and wheat-flour, the Kashmiri have it with morning tea. For having the best experience, cut it in half and smear butter on both sides. You are sure to love this one.
A dish for the paneer lovers visiting Kashmiri. It’s a dish that will rule your heart and you will never see the other paneer dishes in the same light again. This dish is cooked in milk until soft and tender. There are different types of Paneer Chaman. But the best of them all is the one with the milk. Trust me I have tasted it!
Kashmir is all about spices but this one does not have any spices. Also known as the Kashmir Saag, this dish doesn’t have the taste of the rich spices and has a very mild taste. It is made of a type of green leafy vegetable. Best to have it is with rotis and is best suited for those who like green leafy vegetables.
It is a kind of Kashmiri turmeric rice that has a distinct yellow color. It is due to saffron added to the rice. The saffron gives the rice its color and the distinct taste. It is usually had with chaman or Dum aloo. I would suggest having it with Dum Aloo as it just tastes delicious.
Rajma or kidney beans are mostly grown in J&K and thus this bean has become one of the staple diets of the people. Rajma Masala dish is primarily made of this bean and thus dish is named after the bean- Rajma. Though this dish is not a specialty of J&K, it tastes the best in J&K owing to the fact that the bean is grown there. Have it Basmati rice and then, well, you’ll get to know what I am talking about. It is a match made in heaven and happens to be one of my favorites.
Like in all states there is a sweet dish you cannot resist, well in Kashmir it is Roth. It is type of roti that is sweet and made of flour ghee and sugar. The Kashmiri make it during auspicious days. The Kashmiri pundits make it during auspicious days as a ritual.
Phirni is a popular dessert of Kashmir. It is made of rice, milk, saffron, cardamom etc. Dry fruits and rose essence are also added to give it special flavor. The dessert gets its real flavor or taste with the delicacy with which the rice is ground. They are served in traditional earthen bowls called ‘shikoras’. Phirni is so tasty that other states have also started making this dessert for special occasions.
This dish is predominantly a Muslim dessert but since the dominant religion in Kashmir is Islam, Sevaiyann is a specialty of the Kashmir valley. Made with vermicelli and milk this dish is especially made during Eid celebrations. Do try some if you haven’t had any. It’s my personal favorite under the milk desserts category.
This dish is a kind of Kashmiri puff pastry. This dish forms an integral part of Kashmiri cuisine. It is soft considered against the Middle Eastern variety. It is a type of naan sprinkled with sesame seeds. It is usually served for breakfast. Have it with your morning tea or Kahwa for best results.
It is a sweet condimental dish served in Kashmiri parties. It is prepared using Basmati rice and Saffron which gives it a unique color and aroma. Various dry fruits are used in the dish that gives it a really mouth watering taste. Try it once you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Shufta is Kashmiri dessert that is made up of a lot of dry fruits and sugar. This dessert is most preferred during winter because of its high quantity of dry fruits which helps to wade off chillness in winter. This is a mouth watering dish that would make you want to come to J&K again. It’s as tasty as it looks, if not better.
Lyde is a famous Kashmiri dessert prepared by thoroughly frying whole wheat flour. The Kashmiri have it with Sheer Chai. It has a type of neutral taste but is really tasty when you have it with tea, it soaks really well and then maybe you’ll ask for another cup of tea.
Sheer Chai also known as Noon Chai or Pink Tea, is a traditional tea beverage of Kashmir, the Kashmiri have it 2-3 times a day with Kashmir breads. It is made of special tea leaves and a pinch of baking soda to give it a more pronounced pink color. It is slightly salty in taste.
Lavash is actually an Armenian bread that is eaten by the Kashmiri during weddings and functions. It is cream colored unleavened bread. It is mostly topped with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. This bread has a very unique taste as it is baked in a tandoor. It can be eaten with any of the gravies mentioned above in this article. It is particularly tasty with Rogan Josh.
Last but not the least is my favorite Kashmiri dessert and that is- Falooda. It is made with milk, vermicelli, tapioca pearls and basil seeds. These seeds give it the unique flavor and texture. The flavor of the drink depends upon the syrup that is used. When you visit Kashmir, be sure to have this drink. It is heavenly!!! It is similar to Jigarthanda which is made in south India but has a kind of Kashmiri touch because of the basil seeds.
Kashmir maybe famous for its valleys or mountains but for a food-lover like myself, it is place where some of the most delicious dishes are prepared. Once you visit Kashmir and get a taste of its cuisine, you would never be able to forget it. EVER. Be sure to taste these dishes you might even consider settling there for life.