Give your taste buds a royal treatment

Kashmir, acknowledged as ‘heaven on earth’, is actually a place where you can find some heavenly dishes to give your taste buds a tantalising experience.

Apart from the signature and readily available dishes offered by most of Indian and a few international restaurants such as Rogan Josh, Dum Aaloo and Kulcha, the state boasts of some lip smacking dishes that only a few would have heard of or savoured in the normal course.

Usually prepared as part of Kashmiri wazwans, Rogan Josh is a dish which revolves around lamb cooked with great care and love in aromatic flavours, garlic, Kashmiri red chilies, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and shallots.

It is robust with exotic flavours and does not need an introduction, for it is well known as the ‘royal treatment’ for the non-vegetarian tastebuds. While on the vegetarian side is is a another favourite, Dum Aaloo prepared from small boiled and skewed potatoes in spicy red gravy. Kulcha from the tandoori side, is the among the most popular snack time fare of north India.

Beverages always come as an additional treat to the yummy dishes and so does the popular and unusual Kashmiri Sheer Chai or Noon Chai and Kahwah. While the former is unusual because it is a pink coloured salted tea as compared to regular sweet tea, the latter is a different version of the green tea topped with almonds, cinnamon and saffron strands.

Among the main course gravies and delicacies are Chaaman, Nadur Churma, Haakh and Al Yakhni to delight the vegetarians and Tabak Maaz and Yakhni to sate the non-vegetarian palate. Chaaman is usually made during festive occasions and is a preparation of paneer fried and dipped into turmeric gravy to give it a yellow look, Nadur Churma is a dry format of lotus stem cooked and served as French fries.

Saags are an all time favourite health food and Haakh is prepared from collard greens, spiced gently and served with rice and yoghurt. Gourds acquire a flavour of their own when cooked in a curd gravy spiced with turmeric, cinnamon and fennel, Al Yakhni is another lip smacking way to prepare vegetables you would happily give a miss!
Tabak Maaz, popularly known as fried mutton chops, is a must try for mutton lovers.

This delicacy is prepared by frying American-style chopped mutton and then mixing it only with red chilies and some salt. Yakhni, on the other hand, is a gravy dish prepared from mutton pieces marinated in curd mixed with turmeric, fennel, salt and cinnamon and is a sure winner anytime.

To complement the tasty appetisers Kashmiris have the best breads, rice and chutney for you. There is Tomul Chhot which are rice flour rotis and a staple food of Kashmiris and then there is Tehar which is a very popular turmeric rice dish often served with saffron seasoning.

Popularly known as the Muji Chattin, this radish chutney is something very different from the regular chutnies that dominate our kitch-en. Try out Roth, a sweet tasting roti prepared with generous dollops of ghee, flour and sugar by the Kashmiri Pandits on the auspicious occasion of the Kashmiri New year, and you’ll surely be asking for more!

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