Touted as “Paradise on Earth”, the Kashmir valley is fabled for its heavenly landscapes, welcoming people, blooming apple orchards and gorgeous snow-capped mountains. Kashmir has been the go-to destination from tourists around the world who are captivated by the sights and mesmerised by the humble people. And as colourful as the landscapes are, the food of Kashmir is something we all crave for. Travelers looking to embark on a culinary journey usually stick to the famous foods of Kashmir like Rogan Josh and Dum Aaloo.
But the state has much more to offer than these done to death dishes that are widely available in restaurants around the world. Kashmiri cuisine uses rich and exotic ingredients like cardamom, fennel, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and saffron and is heavily influenced by its Mughal heritage. In this article, we rediscover lesser known, lesser eaten dishes yet famous foods of Kashmir that you must try when you are there.
10 lesser known famous foods of Kashmir
This is a delicate rice dish that uses a combination of aromatic spices, lamb and rice. The succulent lamb cooks to perfect and blends in with the yellow rice to create a delicious dish that is a favourite amongst the locals. The biryani like dish is made with ingredients like basmati rice, lamb, cardamom, clarified butter, fennel powder, saffron, cinnamon, ginger powder and asafoetida. Click here to make this at home!
A few of the most famous foods of Kashmir include dishes like Rista and Gushtaba. But a similar dish often gets side-lined and as a result has become a rare commodity all over Kashmir. Matschgand is a dish that is said to have originated in Kashmir and is prepared from minced meat.
The Indian version of minced meat balls is the Matschgand which is often served with a thick, rich gravy. Common ingredients used in the preparation include lamb, fennel powder, mustard oil, asafoetida, cumin, cardamom, red pepper powder and clarified butter. Here is the recipe for your reference.
Kashmiri Muji Gaad
Muji Gaad or machhli mooli is a traditional local dish served in a few regions of Kashmir. According to online sources, this dish was generally consumed by the Kashmiri pandits and eaten during winter months.
Kashmiri Muji Gaad is a combination of fish that is paired with radish or nadur (lotus stem). All the spices, fish and vegetables culminate to form a subtle tasting dish that is abundant in neutral flavours and pairs well with steamed rice or pulao. Click here for the recipe.
Tsochvor & Tsot
Did you know that there are about 15 kinds of daily breads consumed in Kashmir? Interesting right? These are usually made by the Kandur (a local baker) who dole out breads like Tsochvor & Tsot. Tsochvor is a small round bread with a soft upper half sprinkled with til (poppy seeds) or khaskhash and a crisp lower crust. Both breads are usually served with butter and noon chai (salted tea).
Another popular, traditional bread is the Lavash or Lavaas or Lavasa. This everyday bread in usually white in colour and made of Maida. The paper thin naan is a common breakfast dish that is eaten with butter, jam or cream and accompanied by chai. These can either be soft or crispy and can be used to make wraps as well.
A typical traditional Kashmiri dish, Lyodur Tschaman is usually prepared for special occasions like weddings and festivals. The dish gets its exuberant yellow colour from saffron powder and turmeric. Lyodur means yellow and Tschaman means Paneer (cottage cheese). The rich gravy is infused with aromatic Kashmiri spices that include ginger powder, asafoetida, red chillies and a topping of fresh cream. Here is a link to a good recipe.
Shab Deg is a traditional Kashmiri dish that was slow cooked overnight. Shab means night and Deg means large cooking utensil. The dish is a combination of boneless lamb, Koftas, turnips and spices. In simple words it’s a slow cooked meat ball turnip curry that is pretty rich and not for the faint hearted. The gravy dish goes well with rice, naans or sheermal, which is a saffron flavoured flatbread of Iranian origin. Try this out at home with this recipe.
The ones with a sweet tooth with love this and also wonder why Roth is not one of the famous foods of Kashmir. Prepared from flour, ghee, and sugar, Roth resembles a flatbread and is consumed mainly by the Kashmiri Pandits. There are some versions that look like cookies which are part of religious events.
This dish is basically another lamb preparation made in a light yogurt based gravy and garnished with coriander. The succulent lamb meat is cooked in rich masalas like, cardamoms, cloves, turmeric, coriander powder etc and then added to saffron infused milk and yogurt that gives it a slightly sweet and creamy feel to it. Here’s the recipe for the dish.
Monji Haakh Kohlrabi
This is a vegetarian dish where simplicity delivers astounding results. Another famous food from Kashmir that was eaten by the Kashmiri Pandits, the Monji Haakh kohlrabi is cooked with very few ingredients and yet is simply delicious. Kohlrabi is a German turnip widely available in the Kashmir valley and Haakh means saag. Here’s a good recipe to follow.