If you love rich and mouthwatering culinary treats much as much as we do, then a trip to Kashmir will lead you to gastronomic nirvana!
Next time you happen to be at this paradise, throw (calorie) caution to the wind, and dig into these god-sent pieces of pure happiness…
For a meat-eater, Kashmir is no less than heaven. Locals here have had access to some of the most delicious meat recipes since centuries. While lamb and mutton are quite popular here, beef is hard to find. This is probably because Kashmiri Pandits refrain from consuming beef. However, a variety of mouth-watering dishes available, including vegetarian options are more than enough to make your taste-buds whoop with joy!
So, if you love an expedition filled with culinary delights, we highly recommend you try these on your next trip to Kashmir…
#1 Shufta in Udhampur
Udhampur, the second-largest city in Jammu, entices tourists with its spectacular landscape and ancient structures. And when you’re here, a generous dose of Shufta must not be missed! This traditional Kashmiri dessert commonly served during auspicious occasions features a mix of rich dry fruits and paneer (cottage cheese), coated with sugar syrup and spices. It’s a burst of lip-smacking flavours you won’t forget anytime soon!
#2 Kawah & Noon Chai in Leh
In this Buddhist land of clear blue skies and arid mountains, the day begins with a cup of either sweet or salty tea. Yes, salty tea! Noon Chai also known as Namkeen or Sheer Chai, is made with black tea, milk and butter. And we guarantee, just a sip is enough to make you fall in love with its soft and creamy taste. Kawah or Maugal Chai on the other hand, is a rich green tea that consists of nuts, saffron and spices. The sweetness of this tea blends with crunchy nuts to create an absolutely refreshing and sumptuous flavour.
#3 Dum Aloo in Jammu
The state of Jammu offers a variety of delicacies, but Kashmiri Dum Aloo is certainly one of the most popular dishes found there. While Dum Aloo is prepared in many parts of India, it has its origins in the Himalayas. The authentic Kashmiri version of this dish features deep fried baby potatoes, which are cooked in a delicious gravy of curd and lots of Kashmiri spices. The beautifully balanced flavours will make you forget your problems, at least temporarily…
#4 Veth Chaman in Sonmarg
While you are in Sonmarg, enjoying its stunning landscapes, make sure to also relish its unparalleled paneer delicacy. Every vegetarian’s delight – paneer (cottage cheese) is used in Sonmarg to make a traditional dish called Veth Chaman. Its recipe comes from the ancient kitchens of Kashmiri Pandits. Cooked with mustard oil, milk, curd and liberal quantity of spices, this dish does not make any use of onion and garlic. Have a bite of the melt-in-your-mouth paneer cooked in a thick and flavourful gravy, and you’ll always remember the name ‘Veth Chaman’…
#5 Mutton Rogan Josh in Gulmarg
Perhaps the most famous of all Kashmiri dishes, Rogan Josh is a signature curry prepared in Gulmarg using yogurt, onions and marinated mutton. But the most important ingredient in this hearty lamb stew recipe is Kashmiri red chillies; which is also responsible for the vibrant colour. By the look of it, you may think you’re going to set your tongue on fire. But worry not; these chillies have ‘more bark than bite’! While you may find endless versions of this popular meat curry all across India, the authentic one can be savoured only in Gulmarg and other parts of Kashmir. So do yourself a favour, and Do Not Miss this dish!
#6 Yakhni in Kargil
Yogurt Lamb Curry or Yakhni is a succulent lamb preparation, and a specialty of Kargil. It is cooked using a special component – Mawal flowers, which is unique to Kashmir. A blend of black and green cardamom, onion paste and dry mint leaves ultimately adds to its distinguished Kashmiri flavour. How do you make the most of this thin, delicious and aromatic curry? Have it with steamed rice. Have it with roti, bread or anything you fancy. For the love of meat, just have it!
#7 Thenthuk in Ladakh
Ladakh has more to offer than the placid PangongTso lake and Nubra Valley. It’s also home to delightful Tibetan cuisine. And Thenthuk, a seemingly simple soup, will take you by surprise! Made from mixed vegetables, wheat flour noodles and yak meat, every mouthful of this soup is packed with warm, wholesome goodness. If you are a vegetarian, you can order Thenthuk without meat. Remember, the authentic version of this soup is found only in the Tibetan influenced areas of Kashmir. So, you know what to do when you’re in Ladakh next, yes?
#8 Chicken Pulao in Pahalgam
The inhabitants of the ‘Valley of Sheperds’ a.k.a Pahalgam, are famous for their love affair with the kharif crop. And an appetizing rice preparation, Kashmiri Chicken Pulao, is the result of this never-ending rendezvous! Whole spices, nuts and tender chicken pieces blend with basmati rice in desi ghee for an explosion of mouth-watering flavours that no one can resist. Give it a try next time you’re in Pahalgam, and you’ll know what we’re talking about!
#9 Rista in Srinagar
Kashmiri Wazwan is a royal, multi-course cultural meal. While “Waz” means a chef with rare culinary skills, “Wan” refers to a shop with the abundant supplies of meats and delicacies. It consists of 36 different culinary treats, and Rista is one of them. The process of preparation of Rista is time-consuming, but the process of consumption is definitely a swift one. Juicy meat balls soaked in red curry (as seen below) taste best with rice. Moreover, the use of mawal flowers for cooking adds to the authenticity of this dish. So make sure you have as much of it as you can while you are in Srinagar.
Kashmir is filled with culinary experiences that will you leave begging for more. And this was, honestly, just a glimpse of what you simply shouldn’t skip! So, the next time you embark on a holiday to Kashmir, come back and tell us what you think we must add to our list of must-eats!
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