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The most notable ingredient in today’s Kashmiri cuisine is mutton, of which there are over 30 varieties.
Kashmiri Pandits have had the earliest influence on Kashmiri cuisine. Although Pandits in other parts of the subcontinent do not normally eat meat, the Pandits of Kashmir have always eaten all meat except beef. Use of beef in Kashmiri Wazwan is limited to the rural area and is non existent in the city.It may be noted that beef in specific and meat in general was never banned in any of the Vedas or any other Hindu scriptures. It was during a famine hundreds of years ago that the local rulers banned beef. Wazwan in keeping with the age old Kashmiri tradition known as Kashmiriyat, much of the cuisine is similar between Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims. The wazwans of Kashmiri Muslims had a strong emphasis on goat, whereas Kashmiri Pandits prefer Lamb. The epicNilamat Purana records that the Brahmins of Kashmir have always been heavy eaters of lamb and mutton.
The two most important saints of Kashmir, Lalleshwari and Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali were actually vegetarians for spiritual reasons. Meat is cooked in Kashmiri festivals and forms an extremely important part of Kashmiri identity. Some noted Kashmiri dishes include:
1.“Qabargaah” (Kashmiri Muslims commonly refer to this dish as Tabakhmaaz)
6.Matschgand, lamb meatballs in a gravy tempered with red chillies
8.Monji Haak/Gogji Haak
9.Mujh Gaad, a dish of radishes with a choice of fish.
11.“Shaem”, which is similar to Goshtaba
12.Qeleeya, a delicate preparation of lamb cooked in a milk-based gravy incorporating bay leaves and turmeric.
13.Rogan Josh, a lamb based dish, cooked in a gravy seasoned with liberal amounts of Kashmiri chillies (in the form a dry powder), ginger (also powdered), asafoetida and bay leaves among other ingredients. Due to the absence of onions, yoghurt is used as a thickener, and also to reduce the heat and marry the spices in the gravy. This dish is the most commonly cooked dish using lamb meat in Kashmiri cuisine.
Syun Pulaav (Meat Pulao)
16.Yakhni, a yoghurt-based mutton gravy without turmeric or chilli powder. The dish is primarily flavoured with bay leaves, cloves and cardamom seeds. This is a mild, subtle dish eaten with rice often accompanied with a more spicy side dish.
Tea drinking forms a very important of Kashmiri Pandit cuisine and often takes the place of dessert. Two important types of tea are Kehwa (sweet green tea with cardamom and almonds) and Sheer Chai (referred as Noon Chai by Kashmiri Muslims, it is a salty pink tea with almonds). Such teas are usually taken with baked breads such as Kulcha, Katlam, Roth or Bakarkhani in Kashmiri Pandit cuisine.
Kashmiri Pandit cuisine has very few dessert dishes or sweets. More importance is therefore given to the main course and tea and not to the dessert.