palatesofindia

Flavors from the Kashmir Valley

Posted on: December 31, 2010

“If there is a heaven on this earth, it is here” once said Jehangir, the great  Mughal emperor, and rightfully so.
Yes, you have guessed it right!!! We will start our journey from the beautiful state of Jammu & Kashmir. This is the northern most state of India and home to several valleys. I have never been to Kashmir, but very soon I will. However I have some very close friends from Kashmir and I am lucky to grow up on the ever delicious Kashmiri cuisine.
Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over hundred of years. The first major influence from Kashmiri Pundits (the Hindus in the valley) and subsequently from Timur, Uzbekistan, Persia and Afganistan.
The unique thing I find about Kashmiri cuisine is that it avoids usage of Onion, garlic, tomatoes etc which are very essential to otherwise Indian cuisine.  So, if you are served with Rogan josh with a very thick onion/tomato based gravy- you know it’s NOT authentic Kashmiri Rogan josh 🙂
I tried the following dishes in my kitchen following the authentic recipe and would like to share them with you all.
 
ROGAN JOSH


 

Rogan means oil and josh mean heat. So this dish is lamb (or goat) cooked in oil and intense heat. The dish has thin yogurt based gravy with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, cumin, aniseed, fennel ,saffron and of course Kashmiri chili powder (for heat and color). Kashmiri chili powder is not as hot as the regular chili powder, so a lot can be used to get that intense red color without adding too much heat.
It is said that Rogan Josh was brought to Kashmir by the Mughals. All I can say about this is that this is the best lamb dish I have eaten in my life.
Best served with Indian bread/ rice and red wine.

 
KASHMIRI DUM ALUV


 

Being from Orissa, I grew up with dum aloo (or we call it “Aloo dum”). But Kashmiri dum aloo is different as again this is yogurt based gravy with no onion/garlic. In the Kashmiri version of dum aloo (dum aluv) ,the potatoes (small size or baby potatoes)  are deep fried and then cooked slowly at a low flame(the word dum means slow cooked) in a yogurt based gravy with kashmiri spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger powder, fennel, cumin, caraway seeds, black pepper, kashmiri chili powder, asafoetida, cloves and turmeric).
Best serverd with Indian bread or Kashmiri pulao (see below). My favorite is dum aluv with kashmiri pulao and Iced tea cocktail.
 
KASHMIRI PULAO


 

What can be a better comfort food than piping hot fragrant rice with fruits and nuts on a cold day? That’s the reason may be why this is so popular in Kashmir where the weather is usually very cold. Kashmiri pulao is a very rich rice( long grained basmati rice) dish cooked in milk, heavy cream, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron and mixed with dry fruits (raisins, almonds, dry apricots) and garnished with fresh fruits like grapes, apples.
This is a very satisfying dish which tastes delicious with a simple raita or dum aluv or rogan josh.
 
CHICKEN YAKHNI


 

Yakhni is a very authentic Kashmiri dish. The spices used and preparation method is very different than  traditional Indian food. Yakhni is a yogurt based gravy cooked in spices like fennel seeds, giger powder, cumin seeds, garam masala, cloves, cardamom, chilli powder and bay leaves. You can make yakhni out of lotus roots(nadir yakhni), meat (mutton yakhni) or chicken (chicken yakhni). I tried chicken yakhni and it was delicious. 

Best served with rice and white wine.
 
KAHWAH


 

Kahwah is the traditional green tea recipe that originated in the valley. This tea is made with boiling green tea with saffron strands, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. It is served with honey and crushed almond.
On a cold snowy day, sipping a hot steaming cup of kahwah can make you feel like you are already in heaven  i.e.  The heaven on this earth..Kashmir!!!
A food blog about Kashmir cannot be complete without the mention of “WAZWAN”. Wazwan is a thirty-six course meal. The preparation of wazwan is considered an art is and the pride of Kashmir culture and identity. Rogan josh and dum aluv mentioned above are part of wazwan.

Please follow this link for recipe of the above dishes.

If you know of any authentic Kashmiri dish, please share here or send me the recipe and I will post it here.
Next time we will explore the mountains of Himachal Pradesh…….stay tuned

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