Kashmiri food is very rich and elaborate, and inherits a strong influence from cuisines of Central Asia, Persia and Afghanistan. Ingredients like yogurt, turmeric, saffron, dry fruits, milk and lotus roots are most commonly used in making Kashmiri food. Lamb is one of the most prominent meats used in Kashmiri cuisine and can be cooked in over 30 styles. The lamb used to prepare Kashmiri delicacies is of the highest quality.
An elaborate wedding feast is called Wazwan in Kashmir. It is prepared by Kashmiri chefs known as Wazas in copper vessels over wood fires. A traditional Wazwan would comprise of up to 36 courses. A mélange of spices are used in different proportions to give a unique aroma to every dish. The very popular Kashmiri red chilli forms the soul of Kashmiri cooking. Onions, garlic, chicken and egg are usually kept away from a Kashmiri kitchen.
Of its thirty-six courses, fifteen to thirty are usually meat preparations, cooked overnight on a low flame. Curd is used in many Kashmiri preparations. It gives the dish a creamy touch. Asafoetida is added to enhance the flavor of the meat dishes and saffron is used as a colouring agent.
The wedding feast begins by praying and washing of hands in a traditional way by using a tash-t-nari– a jug and basin, which is passed around among the guests. Guests sit in groups of fours and share the food served. Heaps of rice is piled on the plate and decorated and quartered by kebabs and other delicacies. The meal is accompanied by yogurt, dips and pickle. Some of the essential Wazwan dishes include, Rogan Josh, Yaknee, Dum Aloo, Gushtaab, Sheekh kabab, Kofta, Pasanda, Korma Sag and Kashmiri Nan. We have just named a few which you would surely find as part of a Kashmiri wedding menu but there are many more.
Preparing the perfect Gushtaba is the ultimate test to check on the skills of a Waza. The Korma Sag is made from the popular Dal Lake vegetable known as Lak. This is sold at the morning market at the Dal lake where vegetable vendors bring fresh produce and sell them on Shikaras– Kashmiri boats.
Kahwa is a delicately flavoured tea, which originated from Kashmir. This unique beverage is flavoured with cardamom and ginger and topped with grated almonds. It is usually had without milk. This is one of our personal favourites! Keep following Marry Me’s Indian wedding blog for more updates and interesting reads!