I came across Kashmiri cuisine almost a decade and half back when I first had the Dum Aloo at Kashmiri Wazwaan and I liked the taste, it looked super spicy but it wasn’t that spicy that’s when I got to know about the magic chilli that imparts that rich red color look to most of the kashmiri dishes and makes even the vegetarian dishes look like non vegetarian dishes.
Kashmir is very famous for its beauty and serenty, the crown of country is a heaven for food lovers too, as it offers authentic non-vegetarian dishes. Kashmiri food is mild in taste and rich in flavour with the high use of hot spices like cardamom, fennel, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and saffron. Influenced by Mughals, Kashmiri cuisine is predominantly non-vegetarian, with mutton, chicken or fish used as prime ingredients but there are a few delicacies for Vegetarians as well.
So while I got this chance to visit CafeOn3 at Mayur vihar hosting a Kashmiri Food Festival from 1-10th March, curated by a kashmiri Pandit Mrs. Rajni ,I got super excited to have food from Kashmir and get to know it as well.
We started our evening with the Kesar Kashmiri Kawa , And as always it’s very calming and an absolute warmer in Delhi Winters.
We moved to the Starters sections and in vegetarian options we had the following
Fried Nadru and Nadru Tikki – If you wondering what’s Nadru then let me simplify , Lotus stem is called Nadru in Kashmir and is extensively used as vegetable, Fried to make crispy Nadru, then is made in Nadru Kababas as well and further made in various recipes using Tomato or even curd.
Let’s have a look at the nutritional value of this vegetable, it contains large amount of Vitamins – B&C , rich in minerals like Iron, potassium, copper , thiamin and zinc and it’s a good source of protein and dietary fiber.
Kashmiri Vegetarian Dishes
Let me quickly take you to my table at Cafe on 3, all you see in my plate is delightful vegetarian dishes , and that’s how special this cusine is.
Dum oluv : Mostly Kashmiri dishes are non-vegetarian, there is something very special prepared with potatoes for the pure vegetarians. Dum Olav or Dum Aaloo, one of the most famous dishes of Kashmiri food. Dum Aaloo is cooked with yoghurt, ginger powder, fennel and other hot spices to give it a unique flavour and aroma.
A Kashmiri version of our very own Dum Alloo this is a must try Kashmiri dish for it’s color, flavor and Rich aroma.
Paneer Chaman : As the name goes Paneer Chaman , is made of Cottage cheese. This traditional Kashmiri dish is for every paneer lover. Rich cottage cheese sprinkled with brown and green cardamom is slowly cooked in milk till it’s tender, rich and brown and It’s delicious too.
Nadru Tamatar : Yet another dish made with Nadru – Lotus stem cooked in kashmiri spices and tomato gravy.
Sochal Wangun : The quintessential winter recipe! All you need is Haak leaves – this is green in colour and look a lot like spinach & Eggplant.This is a warm. Cooked in mustard oil, kashmiri saag can be paired with makki ki roti or Kashmiri bread.
Let’s move to the Kashmiri Bread. SheerMal we all are familiar with, but this festival gave me a chance to try other kashmiri breads too, and it’s believed there are over a dozen variety of breads here.
Kashmiris love to have baker’s bread for their breakfast and hence, every Kashmiri colony has one traditional bakery known as ‘Kaandar/ Kandur’. And these Kashmiri Bakery – Kandurs can be found everywhere in the cities. In Kashmir, there is a bread for every season. Long before dawn, hundreds of baker families (Kandurs) in the Valley fire up wood tandoors and start making bread. These breads go well with salty pink tea called Nun chai. There are many types of traditional breads like chot, katlam, kulcha, lavaas ,Tilwurr, SheerMal etc.
Girda : This is a medium sized everyday bread. The simple one. Everyone has it for breakfast with butter or jam. This is prepared by kandur in tandoor (hot oven) on a daily basis by putting his finger impressions and then places it in tandoor.
Tilwurr : small, soft round bread of about three inches diameter and six inches circumference, with a soft upper half sprinkled with til (sesame seeds) or Khaskhash (poppy seeds) and the lower crust is crispy. It’s the evening/afternoon bread , can also be referred as Chochwurr.
Katlam is yet another Kashmiri bread usually crispy and thin.
SheerMal : Shirmal, also known as Krippè, is usually served with kehwa. It is a dry, crumbly bread with a long shelf life – salty as most kashmiri breads are. There are various kinds of sheermal and certain places are famous for being fresh and crispy
Shufta : An exotic kashmiri dessert made of Cottage cheese, Dry fruits dipped in honey and derives it color from Saffron. This can be very well put into a soulful healthy dessert for it’s ingredients.
Modhur Pulav : as the word madhur stands for sweet , Modhur Pulav is a name given to sweetened Kashmiri rice prepared using cinnamon, a little saffron, milk, ghee,
sugar, cashew nuts, almonds, green cardamom among several other ingredients. This dish is sweet, flavoured and healthy with saffron as the main spice which gives it beautiful colour and taste. And this saffron is also grown and in Kashmir itself. The distinctive taste of this pulav is unlike something you have ever tasted before. Just taste once and you will be left craving for more, only if you have a sweet tooth.
Mouthwatering delicacies of Kashmiri food will leave your stomach full but your tongue still craving for more. Happy this festival is a 10 day long festival and there is so much kashmiri food still left to explore that one more visit is already on my mind.