Growing up in a Kashmiri household while not living in Kashmir only gave me a glimpse of the rich variety of dishes my parents relished while living in Srinagar. Whether it was my mom’s Rajma curry or my Dad’s chicken biryani, there was always a tinge of that Kashmiri flavor in whatever they cooked. This mystic cuisine is steeped in deep aromas and taste where the delicacies range from the curd-based curry of Yakhni to the delicious and sweet Phirni.
Also known as ‘Wazwan’, the cuisine has been influenced by cuisines of various cultures like Persian, Afghani, Central Asian and Middle Eastern. You can identify a Kashimiri dish by the liberal use of spices like cardamom, dry ginger, heeng (asafetida), cloves and saffron and chilies. An authentic Kashmiri wazwan experience can only be achieved of course in Kashmir, but for those who have never travelled up north, you can sample these delicacies at plenty of restaurants specializing in the cuisine all over India.
Khyen Chyen, Gurgaon
If you’re really willing to take your taste buds straight to paradise with authentic Kashmiri food, head to Khyen Chyen (Khaana Peena) to enjoy dishes made with traditional cooking techniques native to Kashmiri food. Wazwan is served in a large copper plate each serving a group of four, representing Kashmiri hospitality. Try some Tabakhmaaz- barbecued lamb ribs prepared in ghee and a generous helping of Gushtaba- big meatball made with yogurt. The Waza Kokur and Badam Korma are must-haves at this paradise of Kashmiri delights. Everything from the presentation to even the cutlery gives you a touch of Kashmir.
Samavar, New Delhi
When it comes to Kashmiri food, this fine dining restaurant in South Delhi doesn’t disappoint; whether it is the light snack that is Nadurchurma- cut up lotus stem coated with seasoned rice flour batter and deep-fried, the famous Dum Aloo with its signature spicy red gravy or Haak Paneer- a leaf-green dish with a hint of heeng and little gravy. Along with the well-decorated restaurant, they also have two tiny shops which sell fresh baked goods. This wonderland of Kashmiri food has comfortable seating and is home to many home-sick Kashmiris who come together to reminiscence about their memories in this home away from home.
The Northern Frontier, Pune
This restaurant located in Yerwada is known for its multiple options of yummy food and a range of delectable dishes like Rista and Murgh Rogan Josh with its fiery red colour and equally spicy gravy and happens to be a favourite among visitors. Besides the mouth-watering food, The Northern Frontier also offers a fine and elegant ambiance with a beautifully arranged seating area. This is the best place to enjoy sumptuous delicacies with family and friends. For those that prefer ordering food instead, they deliver in 30 mins (Dominos, who?) and also carry a travelling card swipe machine, something not very common in a city like Pune.
Bored of butter chicken and naan? Consider going to KongPoush, one of the city’s most popular Kashmiri restaurants that will beat your home food cravings. The yummy Maaz Yakhni and Nadur Palak will have your mouth watering in no time. If the way to one’s heart is through food, then Wazwan is a one-way street to paradise. Dig into some crispy Tabakmaaz and Methi Maaj Kahwa for some added flavor to your usual food routine. The one-of-its-kind flavor will have you coming back again and again. KongPoush certainly knows how to get it right.
The abode of the Nizams is not one to be left behind when it comes to Persian inspired cuisine. This restaurant showcases its authentic Kashmiri cuisine with spicy indulgence and rich flavors of the North. Leave your forks and spoons behind at this traditional yet fine-dining restaurant which encourages its diners to eat with bare hands. This plush restaurant offers Kashmiri cuisine along with Hyderabadi and Lucknowi delights. Order the Asaf Jahi Murgh Tikka and the Beetroot Halwa—you won’t be disappointed. Dining here will appeal to all your senses as the sweet melody of Hindustani classical music tunes belted out by tabla and santoor players welcome you.
Wherever you eat, don’t forget to end your meal with the soothing taste of traditional Kashmiri tea Kehva which is laced with lemon, cardamom and sprinklings of almond!