Myth tells it that the Valley of Kashmir emerged from a great lake when the wise man and sage Kashyap put to death the villanous demon who was getting his kicks with some wide-ranging anti social behaviour which included draining the lake by creating a dip to its western side, this dip or valley being known as Kashyap -Mar, and latterly came to be known as Kashmir!
Kasmir is an area of outstanding natural beauty, it also is a region famed throughout the world for some of its fabulous architecture , houseboats , mosques and fantastic gardens. It is an assault upon the senses with the valleys of Kashmir being resplendent with carpets of Saffron Crocuses, being at the foot if the Himalayas offering a multitude of potential agriculture and crops that include mushrooms,honey, floriculture,dairy-farming poultry and sheep for meat production.
Kashmiri Cuisine is unique and quite different from the rest of India, owing essentially to the influences of Asia and Tibet. There are two main cooking styles Hindu and muslim, with a preferred meat of Lamb, whilst elsewhere in the country goat is seen more on the menu.
The Hindu Pandit style of cooking completely does away with onions and garlic, replacing them with Ginger and Aniseed powders , and is in greatly influenced by vegetarian foods and dishes, which are prevalent and seen during Religious festivals.
Kashmir is most famous for the Waaza where sitting in Groups of Four , an auspicious and lucky number in Kashmir, the traditional chefs of Kashmir The Waaza, who claim their ancestry from the 15th Century, when Timur invaded India who were all immigrants from Samarkand in central Asia offer banquets to those groups consisting of some of the most fantastic dishes to be found in India, a full banquet consisting of up to thirty-six courses;With seven courses making up the indispensable part of the feast
Tabakh Maaz Ribs to us in the west
Rista, delicious meatballs in a saffron Gravy
Rogan Josh, a fantastic curry bearing little resemblance to the dish you will mind on most curry house menu’s
Aab Gosh, a lamb dish cooked in a gravy of Dairy milk
Marchwagon Korma, meat again flavoured with aniseed and dry ginger powder, and hot hot hot with 50+ chillies
Ghustaba, another meat ball dish cooked in yoghurt, a really tricky and complex dish, usually served as the final dish and the crowning glory!
Firin, and Kahwah ,The drink of choice for this banquet being green tea
These dishes are the creations of the Waza family and can be regarded as the fine dining, or Michelin star dishes that grace the very best of tables.
I have all of these recipes and at this time have no intention of posting them as the list of ingredients are sometimes a little tricky for we that don’t live within the Kashmiri Valley. Try asking your local supplier of indian goodies for Dried Cockscomb flowers and see what he says to you, an ingredient used a lot within the Waszwaan Dishes, and as such tricky in the extreme!
For the average family the prospect of Bheja is a more likely dish, Brain curry, not something that we in the west would generally have on our daily table, but once cooked not something that is recognisable as the basic ingredient
I mention this as it should never be forgotten that much of the food eaten by everyday folk who are working very hard at the life that is before them does not allow them to waste any rich sources of protein and as such the slaughter of a goat will mean that all is eaten. With Chuste, being a curry of Goats intestines.
Again I have this recipe and unless there is a demand I wont be publishing it.
In Finishing I am sure that you all can now see that Kashmir is rich in culture and dishes that will constantly surprise , so fear not get stuck in and enjoy Kashmir is as near to the gods as you can get in culinary terms, from the very basic of Dals and vegetarian dishes using the very best of local ingredients through to the fine dining of the WAZAAN; Whichever is your choice you will be certain that you have been well fed.