We had been probably been only once to Ahdoos to have Kashmiri food. Wazwan or Kashmiri cuisine is very famous and the most delectable one is Gushtaba ( a ball of boneless meat pounded into round shape by beating with a blunt wooden hammer and then cooked into a gravy made with curd) followed by Rista ( which is meat kofta curry) , Tabakmaaz , Yakhni which I sometimes cook at home from a cookbook by a Kashmiri Pandit Neerja Mattoo.
The speciality of Kashmiri food is that it is cooked with Saunf (fennel powder) and sounte (dry ginger powder) and Kashmiri Laal mirch which actually gives the food deep red gravy without being even slightly hot. The Muslims add onion and garlic to it but the Kashmiri Pandits who like Bengali Hindus are non-vegetarians do not use onion -garlic instead add hing that also like us, as we do not use onion -garlic in sacrificial (bali) meat.
It is said that the team of cooks who cook Wazwan have to be paid fees equal to the price of meat cooked. I have heard from my father’s friend Asim Kaku , who lived in Srinagar that in Kashmiri Muslim weddings four guests are made to sit around big thalis with a mound of rice in the middle. They take the rice from the mound and mix it with meat served separately and have it. A kilogram of meat is estimated for each guest. Unfortunately we didn’t get an opportunity to eat at any ceremony of Muslim Kashmiris so had Wazwan in Ahdoos only.
Mr. Kaul , a Kashmiri Pandit , who was a senior official of Kashmir Govt. Arts Emporia, invited us to his brother-in-law’s house for a ceremony relating to his son’s marriage.
It was an unique experience. We were served dinner on the floor. Maa was impressed when the lady of the house served us rice with her hands just like Bengali mother (Bhat hath diye bere bere dicchilen)
Like bengalis , Kashmiris are also rice eaters. The whole valley is full of lush green paddy fields – a sight worth seeing once you leave the city.
Bye the way do you know the marriage signs of Kashmiri Pandit women. They wear a long thread running right upto the shoulder pierced through the upper portion of the ear with a jumka hanging on the shoulders.
Incerpts from the Travelling Memoirs Of
A Chartered Accountant by profession and a gourmet cook by choice.
**Have been shopping from Shakers daily ever since they opened as they provide variety of fish. Their Golda chingri is my favorite. Another important item is Mocha cut and cleaned. But never thought they would provide me the luxury of having Wazwan dishes right on my table. I would recommend everyone to try out Gushtaba , Rista and Tabakmaaz. They are simply out of the world.**