City's palate tickles with Kashmiri food

How often does food give an insight into the people’s lives that make it? Ghushtaba, also called the King of Kashmiri cuisine, are mutton balls which are pounded over night and cooked in curd and dried mint powder and perhaps symbolises the culture of the valley.

 Mostly served in marriages, Ghushtaba, comes at the end of the multi-course meal called Wazwaan. A Waza (Chef) places it a single platter (Trami) which is shared by four people out, of which one is given the duty to slice the mutton ball into four Sitting at his office in South Delhi’s Uday Park, Mohamad Shafi, co-owner of Ahadsons Foods, seems to have
taken upon himself to carry on this legacy.

Ahadsons Foods, named after its founder Abdul Ahad, is perhaps considered to serve the most authentic Kashmiri food in Delhi and beyond. Operating as a take away/home delivery unit, Ahadsons, is the first food unit of Kashmir to have started packaging Wazwaan, mostly for Kashmiris staying outside the valley. While serving packaged food was considered taboo in the valley, Shafi believes that had it not been Ahadsons, the
cuisine might have suffered a slow death.

“The Kashmiri cuisine is also called a Royal feast. It is a mix of 36 dishes which are mostly made of lamb and was becoming cumbersome for people to continue this tradition. We then thought cooking large quantities of Wazwaan and export it to parts of India which have a noticeable Kashmiri population,” Shafi told Metrolife. His claims might be true as Wazwaan which was mostly served in marriages or on religious festivals have become a life saver for Kashmiris who stay outside Kashmir.

“Here we try to retain the authenticity of our cuisine without compromising the quality,” Shafi said while giving out specific details to a local mutton seller for the order of several kilos of mutton ribs. Tabakh Maaz (tender ribs cooked in Kashmiri condiments gravy, shallow fried and served dry), is perhaps the perfect example of the same.

Surprisingly the take away kitchen has over the time gained prominence among non-Kashmiris as well. While Wazwaan in its original form is overwhelmingly a non-vegetarian cuisine, Ahadsons in order to cater to larger public of Delhi has introduced several vegetarian dishes which are mostly cooked in households of the valley.

Palak Nadur (Lotus Stems cooked in Spinach), Choaq Wangan (small fired brinjals rolled in red grapes based gravy), Al Yakhin (bottle gourd cooked in curd) and the most famous Haakh (leaves of distinct Kashmiri spinach).

While vegetarian dishes here are as delicious as their non-vegetarian counterparts, Shafiq said that the demand of Ghushtaba and Rista (pounded mutton balls cooked in saffron flavoured gravy) is way higher than any other dish.

 “We started this takeaway in 1996 when I was 20 and had lost my father after whom our food factory is named. Prior to this we were operating from a small restaurant in Old Delhi during the 80s. But the demand for food kept rising,” Shafiq further said.

“I don’t see my work as just another business. We are promoting our culture and telling the world of our rich heritage,” Shafiq added.

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