Kashmir’s uniqueness lies not just in its beauty, but also in its food. Absolutely rich in taste and exotic in flavor, Kashmiri cuisine has become a popular choice. Kashmiri cuisine requires an extensive use of turmeric, chili powder and yoghurt.
Unlike other Indian cuisines, garlic and onion are not used much in Kashmiri curries. The use of curd in the preparation gives the dish a creamy touch. Other addictive spices used to add to the taste are dry ginger and Saunf (aniseed). Sometimes, ginger is used in excessive quantity that makes the dish pungent. Reason why dry ginger is used in Kashmiri dish is because fresh ginger is difficult to procure in the valley tucked in mountains.
Ghee in many dishes adds a beautiful aroma to the food however if you are cutting down on fats you can substitute it with cold pressed mustard oil..
Fine preparation and marvelous pungent flavor of Kashmiri food make it so tempting that even those who are not hungry end up craving for more.
Popular restaurants that serve authentic Kashmiri food in Srinagar are Ahdoos. Shamyana, Mughal Durbar, Stream and Noorani.
Let’s have a look at some of the Kashmiri vegetarian cuisines which can never go missing from Kashmiri festival menu:
1. Dum Aloo
Dum Aaloo is named so because of the way it is prepared. It is cooked under Dum or pressure. Dum Aloo is a staple in a Kashmiri household . There can be no Kashmiri function without Dum Aloo. It is mostly prepared on festivals, marriages, birthdays. The preparation is simple but takes a lot of time and patience to cook. It has most of the spices that are used in Kashmiri cuisine, like fennel powder, dry ginger powder & asafoetida along with whole garam masa
This dish is an assortment of aromatic spices blended in spicy gravy with fried baby potatoes. This dish is best made with baby potatoes but one can also use regular potatoes if baby potatoes are not available. The combination of dum aloo and peas kachori takes this dish to a whole different level of yum!
2. Rajma Gogji/Rajma Shalgam
Red Kidney Beans (Rajma) & Turnips(Gogji/Shalgam), the two beloved ingredients of Kashmiris are flavored with aniseed, ginger powder and other spices.
Turnip is usually available during winters when the temperature is below 20 degree Celsius . Therefore, it is prepared during winters and eaten with white boiled rice.
3. Gogji Nadir (lotus stem and turnips)
Gogji Nadir is combination of lotus stem and turnips.
This surprising and exotic combination is very simple and quick to make. It uses only five ingredients – a few red chilies, mustard oil, asafeotida, lotus stem and turnips and they all come out quite nicely. The rich flavour of the vegetables and the light gravy of dish make it extremely delightful. The soft turnips go well with the crunchy lotus stem.
4. Matar Palak
It is an aromatic Kashmiri dish made up of spinach and green peas, flavored elegantly with spices. Milk reduces the bitterness of spinach, and improves the consistency of the curry. It’s vibrant color and fresh taste makes it very popular.
5. Chokh Vangun (Kashmiri Khatte Baingan)
It is a Kashmiri style eggplant curry, cooked in spicy and sour gravy. it is flavored with fennel seed powder and ginger powder. Baby eggplants are cooked in a mildly spiced tamarind/curd giving it a hard-to-forget tangy taste.
6. Monj Haak
This is the simplest and the quickest recipe. To make this soupy curry one needs mustard oil, asafoetida, roughly chopped Knol Khol (Ganth Gobhi) along with leaves, green chilies, salt and water. Cook longer for softer texture.
And lastly the best digestive after delicious Kashmiri food is Kahva. A delicate hot drink of green tea with cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, and almonds made in a samovar. The combination of green tea and saffron has properties that aid in weight loss if had regularly.
By: Sapna Madan
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