Gar Firdaus Bar -Roo – e- Zameen ast,
Hameen ast -o ,Hameen ast-o ,Hameen ast – Amir Khusro
(If There is a Paradise on Earth, Its here, Its here, its here.)
The above Persian (Farsi) Couplet by Poet Amir Khusro aptly describes our beautiful Kashmir —– Kashmir that is beautiful beyond words.Kashmir is also known as the ‘Switzerland of India’, ‘The Last Shangrila’ and so on. It’s known by so many names. Kashmir is undoubtedly a Jewel in India’s Crown – A Mythical Himalayan Utopia. It’s a place of inspiration for Art lovers, Nature lovers, music and poetry. Nestling in the ethereal snow-capped Himalayan Range, Kashmir gives you an enigmatic experience. Just like Kashmir’s unique beauty the Kashmiri food is also very rich and steeped in traditions. Kashmiri Cuisine is a royal tapestry of Indian, Iranian and Afghani/Mughalai styles of cooking. Though this Cuisine is dominated by the non-vegetarian fare, the vegetarian delicacies are also enjoyed by many.
The Kashmiri Pandits had a lot of influence on the cuisine. Many Kashmiri pandits are meat-eaters, they eat meat except beef. There are also pandits who do not consume meat in other parts of the subcontinent. Mutton and Lamb are an integral part of the Kashmiri cuisine; it’s used in many of the non-vegetarian dishes. There’s so much of similarity in the food consumed by Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims. Wazwan – ‘Feast Fit for Kings’ as they say it, is another traditional multi-course meal of great importance to the Kashmiri Muslims; it’s a 36-Course banquet core to their culture and tradition. Yes you read it right ! 36- Course food spread !!
Dry Ginger Powder, Fennel Seeds (Saunf), Saffron, Bay Leaves, Cloves, Walnuts, Curds, Red Chillies, Mustard oil and a unique doughnut shaped cake spice mixture called ‘Ver’ are the go-to ingredients in a Kashmiri Cuisine. Many Kashmiri Dishes have pungent notes as they use lot of mustard oil in their cooking. The generous use of Ghee, Saffron and Saunf sets the Kashmiri food apart. Rogan Josh, Tabakhmaaz, Gushtaba, Syun Pulao, Yakhni, Dum Olav (Dum Aloo), Paneer Chaman/ Chaman Kaliyan,Seekh kebabs, Kulcha etc are some of the Famous Kashmiri delicacies. Talking about the beverages Noon Chai/Sheer Chai/Namkeen Chai is a popular pinkish coloured salty tea often had with breads like ‘Baqerkhani’. Another Famous beverage is the ‘Kahwah’. Kahwah is a green tea made with Spices, Saffron, Almonds and Walnuts.
This amazing and gorgeous looking Kashmiri Thali , took me around 4 hours to prepare and cook, 6 dishes in all, worth the effort,My Tablescape was decked beautifully with vibrant hues of the Thali dishes.
In the Thali :
- Rajma Gogji
- Chaman Kaliyan
- Kashmiri Dum Aloo
- Kesar/Saffron Rice
I will post the Thali Recipes in two parts, as- Part -I & Part -II , I will be writing recipes of Rajma Gogji, Chaman Kaliyan and Dum Aloo in Part -I . In Part II, I will share recipes of Kesar Rice and Kahwa.
RECIPE – RAJMA GOGJI
Kashmiri Rajma beans are very different from the regular ones, they are tiny and deep red in colour, it imparts nutty flavour to the dish. This recipe is unique, quite different from the regular Rajma that we cook; this is a Kashmiri style Rajma with aromatic notes of Kashmiri Ver Masala. Gogji means Turnip in Kashmiri language, I could not find the Pink Turnips for this recipe, so I used the brother or sister or cousin whatever you may call of the Pink Turnips i.e. Kohlrabi/German Turnip/Knol Khol as a closest substitute. Let’s get on with the recipe!
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
- Rajma Regular/ Kashmiri Rajma – 2 Cups washed and soaked overnight
- Onion – 1 Medium thinly sliced
- Tomatoes -2 medium finely chopped
- Turnip/ German Turnip – 1 sliced or cubed
- Ginger -1 inch finely chopped
- Garlic -4-5 cloves finely chopped/ minced (readymade ginger-garlic paste could also be used)
- Dry Ginger powder/ Saunth powder – 1 tsp
- Fennel Powder/ Saunf powder -1 tsp
- Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
- Cumin seeds (optional) -1 tsp
- Ver Masala – 1 tsp
- Mustard Oil – 2 tbsps
- To begin with, in a pressure cooker take the washed and soaked Rajma, add water accordingly, add a pinch of salt and pressure cook for about 6-8 whistles until the Rajma becomes soft and mushy.
- Next in a big Kadai, heat 1 tbsp of mustard oil, once hot and a bit smoky add in sliced onions sauté till it turns golden brown.
- Now add in chopped ginger and garlic, fry until the raw smell goes away, then add chopped tomatoes and sauté till they become soft.
- Add Turmeric powder, Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder, Dry Ginger and fennel powder. Mix well and sauté for a minute.
- Next add the Ver Masala, season with salt as per taste, add in the cooked Rajma into the kadai along with the water, and give it a good mix. Simmer the Rajma on a lower flame for 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat another tbsp of mustard oil in a small kadai, once hot fry the sliced Turnips till golden and crisp, keep aside.
- Now mix the Rajma nicely, add little water only if you feel the consistency is thick.
- Add the fried Turnip slices and mix well. Simmer for about another 10-15 minutes before serving.
- Rajma Gogji is ready. Serve hot with Kashmiri Roti or any Roti/Bread or Rice.
RECIPE- CHAMAN KALIYAN
Chaman Kaliyan – A Paneer preparation cooked in milk, laced with the flavours of Fennel, Cardamom and Saffron. Now can you imagine Paneer/cottage cheese without bold and strong spices? U Cannot? No? Yes, you definitely can. This dish hits the right notes when it comes to flavouring Paneer with mild ingredients. You will be bowled over with its mild taste, rich and creamy texture. I was so mesmerised while I was cooking this recipe and quite anxious too, as to how it would turn out. But Goodness Gracious! It tasted heaven! Let’s get to the Recipe right away.
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes
- Paneer/ Cottage cheese – 1 Cup ( I used the Milky Mist Brands’ paneer as they are really soft and tender)
- Milk – 2 Cups
- Ghee – 2 tbsps
- Cardamom -4-5 pods
- Cloves -3-4
- Cumin Seeds -1 tsp
- Turmeric Powdern-1/2 tsp
- Fennel Powder/ Saunf Powder -2 tsps
- Kashmiri Garam Masala Powder – ½ tsp ( You may use any Brand of Garam Masala)
- Dry Ginger Powder-1/2 tsp
- A pinch of Saffron strands soaked in a tbsp of milk
- Salt to taste
- Cut the paneer in cubes/ squares/ rectangular slices and soak it in warm milk for about 10-15 minutes before cooking (If you soak the paneer in the milk it will be in addition to the 2 cups of milk you need to make this recipe.)
- I did not soak the paneer in the milk, instead soaked them in warm water for about 10 minutes and then took them all on a kitchen towel and gently patted it dry.
- In a non- stick pan, take a tbsp of oil, and once hot gently roast the paneer cubes until it gets slightly golden in colour. keep it aside.( You may skip this step if you wish)
- Now in a Kadai, Heat 2 tbsps of Ghee, once its hot, add cardamom, cloves and cumin seeds. Roast them for a minute until it leaves aroma, and cumin turns brownish in colour.
- Next add milk to the Kadai, and bring it to boil, after the milk starts boiling, add Fennel powder, dry ginger powder and turmeric powder. Give a nice stir to the mixture.
- Now reduce the flame, add the lightly roasted golden paneer cubes and cook until the milk starts bubbling.
- Once you see the bubbles, add a dash of salt, mix gently. Cook until the Paneer is soft and creamy. Make sure you do not overcook as the Paneer might melt in the milk curry.
- Add Garam Masala powder and give a good stir.
- Lastly and importantly, turn of the flame and add in the Saffron/Kesar soaked in warm milk.
- Chaman Kaliyan is ready to be served. Serve it either with warm Naan/Roti or any flavourful rice.
RECIPE- KASHMIRI DUM ALOO
Dum Aloo or Dum Olav as the Kashmiris call it, is a spicy dish where baby potatoes are Dum cooked or slow cooked in curd based gravy. This is the most famous Kashmiri recipe loved by the vegetarian patrons. This dish is so warm and hearty; I often make it in winters and rainy seasons. I have adapted this recipe from the blog @Vegrecipesofindia. I found it to be simple and authentic. Also please ignore the texture of my Dum aloo in the picture as the gravy went quite dry, but trust me friends the taste was really authentic and delicious. Nevertheless, we have days when not everything comes off Perfect to the T, Right? Please read further to note down the recipe.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- Baby Potatoes : 15-20
- Mustard Oil – 2 cups
- Asafoetida/Hing – A Pinch of it
- Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder -3-4 tbsps
- Dry Ginger Powder -1/2 tsp
- Fennel Powder -1 tbsps
- Caraway Seeds/ Shah Jeera
- Garlic Paste – Made out of 3-4 cloves
- Green Cardamom/ Elaichi – 1-2 pods
- Black Cardamom /Badi Elaichi – 1
- Cloves -3-4
- Black Peppercorns – 4-5
- Cinnamon – 1 inch
- Fresh full fat Curd/Dahi – 3-4 cups beaten till smooth
- Salt to taste
- Wash and rinse the baby potatoes well, take a big vessel and add 4 cups of water in it, add the potatoes, add a pinch of salt on a high flame boil the potatoes until they are half boiled or cooked at par.
- Now drain the water and keep the potatoes aside until they cool down.
- Peel the potatoes and poke them taking a fork all over. This step is essential as the potatoes will absorb all the flavours when Dum cooked.
- In a small bowl, add Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder, add water, mix it well and stir nicely to get a fine texture.
- Take a bowl and add 3-4 cups of curd to it, whisk it till smooth. Keep aside when done.
- Take a large Kadai, add 2 cups of mustard oil in it, once hot add the parboiled potatoes and fry them on a medium flame. Keep frying until potatoes turn golden.
- Transfer them on kitchen paper towels/ Tissues.
- Now in the same or another kadai take 2 tbsps of oil (if using the same kadai remove the extra oil and let the temperature of the oil cool down a bit).
- Now add asafoetida, then add garlic paste sauté for few seconds and then add the Kashmiri red chilli powder + water solution to the hot oil, be careful enough as the oil splutters. Now immediately add the beaten curd mixture and while adding again be careful, stir continuously while adding so that the curd does not split. This process must be done on a low flame.
- Add water now and keep stirring the mixture very well. Add fennel powder, dry ginger powder, and whole spices (mentioned in the ingredients list above). Mix well.
- Now add in fried potatoes and mix very well.
- Add salt accordingly and stir again. Now cover the kadai with a lid and Dum cook the potatoes for 10-15 minutes on a low to medium flame. Add in little water if you feel the consistency is way to thick. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Kashmiri Dum Aloo is ready to be served, serve it with Naan or Basmati Rice.