Kashmir is a land of hypnotic treasures. On the one hand, it leaves you spell-bound with its picturesque locales that are nothing short of nature’s best work of art, and on the other, it lulls you into a state of satiety with its rich, aromatic cuisine. Your exploration of this divine land isn’t complete until you have dug into some of the most decadent Kashmiri wazwan dishes. The cuisine of Kashmir is predominantly non-vegetarian, but if you seek, you will find some equally sumptuous vegetarian delights too. Here is our pick of the top Kashmiri delicacies to try for a true Wazwan experience:
This aromatic lamb preparation has attained unparalleled fame over the years and now features on the menu of just about every Indian-cuisine restaurant across the country. You have to eat the authentic preparation of the most popular of Kashmiri wazwan dishes on its home turf to realise that what is passed off as rogan josh in most places does not even come close to the actual dish. The intricate balance of richness from whole spices and the mildness of yoghurt, the robust flavour of caramelised onions and the infusion of flavours from slow-cooking make it a delight that will send you in a tizzy of joy and leave you yearning for more.
This is one of those quintessential Kashmiri wazwan dishes that epitomise seduction by an aroma that is the hallmark of the region’s cuisine. A true treat for meat lovers, Matschgand is a minced meatball preparation with somewhat runny spicy gravy. Loaded with nuts, dry fruits, spices such as saunf, saunth and cardamom in powdered form, this dish is a sensory treat in every sense of the word. Try it to get in touch with your gluttonous side and you won’t regret it.
Kashmiri Muji Gaad
While the Kashmiri cuisine is dominated by red meats like lamb and mutton, it does have its share of fish delicacies too, and the Kashmiri Muji Gaad is one of the best Kashmiri wazwan dishes for exploring this lesser-known side of the cuisine of Kashmir. Prepared solely on festive occasions, this Kashmiri wazwan dish is all about a seamless amalgamation of non-vegetarian and vegetarian ingredients in a way that they come together to complement one another perfectly. Made with fish, radish, lotus stem or nadru, hot spices and local herbs, this dish is rich in taste, aroma and appearance. If you are a fish lover, the Kashmiri Muji Gaad is a must-try during your time in Kashmir.
Kashmiris love their mutton and since it is a daily fare in their meals, they cook it in about 30 different ways. If you have to pick one to try, make it the aab gosht. It is basically mutton ribs slow cooked in milk, spices and ghee until the flavours of the percolate into the gravy. The mutton ribs are the real hero for the dish, making it flavourful ride for anyone who appreciates the goodness of meat. This delicacy is a variant of the Iranian Aab Gosht and showcases the extent of Persian influence on the Kashmiri wazwan dishes.
A traditional Kashmiri wazwan dish from the erstwhile royal kitchens of the land, the Gushtaba is another minced mutton preparation with yoghurt-based gravy and a generous use of spices. Popular as the ‘dish of the Kings’, the Gushtaba truly reflects the richness worthy the royalty. This succulent preparation of boneless meatballs is best enjoyed with plain steamed rice and is prepared in Kashmiri homes to mark special occasions such as festivals and wedding festivities.
The yakhni is yet another yoghurt-based gravy that is flavoured with onion paste, dry mint leaves, green and black cardamoms, fennel seeds and locally grown mawal flowers. The yakhni can be used as a gravy base for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian preparations. For the non-vegetarian variant, lamb chunks are used. However, the true hero of the yakhni preparation is the vegetarian nadru yakhni – lotus stems cooked in the yakhni gravy. The unique taste of nadru accentuates that flavours of the gravy and add to the mouth-watering appeal of this Kashmiri delicacy. Even if you are a sworn non-vegetarian, we strongly recommend giving the nadru yakhni a chance, and you will thank us later.
Popularly known as Dum Aloo, this is an extremely flavour-rich and fragrant preparation of baby potatoes laced with thick yoghurt-based gravy. The baby potatoes are first deep fried and then cooked in gravy with yoghurt, fennel, ginger powder and other whole spices to lend it that distinct aroma and a mild yet refreshing taste. This popular Kashmiri wazwan dish is best enjoyed with butter naan that perfectly harmonizes with its deliciously thick gravy.
Think the humble meethe chawal that your mom cooked when you refused to eat the regular dal-sabzi-roti but with the quintessential rich Kashmiri twist. This sweetened rice preparation has the characteristic rich fragrance of spices like cinnamon, saffron and cardamom. The Kashmiri wazwan dish gets its richness from the use of milk and ghee for cooking the rice and a generous garnish of almonds and cashew nuts. The beautiful colour and taste of this rice preparation and the depth of flavours from the broad spectrum of ingredients make is unique preparation, quite unlike anything you’ve tasted before. Sample it as a dessert or have it as a meal, the Modur Pulav won’t disappoint you.
The gourmet goodness of Kashmir’s food heightens your experience of exploring this destination. Make it count.