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Indian Subcontinent >> India >> Jammu & Kashmir>> Food of Jammu & Kashmir

Food of Jammu & Kashmir

The food of Jammu and Kashmir differs from region to region with the Hindus Dogras of Jammu being predominantly vegetarian; eating a staple diet of rice, wheat and beans. The Ladakhis eat rice, wheat, millet, locally produced vegetables and fruits, goat meat and dairy products made from yak milk. Kashmiri food is characterised by its vast array of dishes cooked over a long period of time in exotic spices. The seasons and availability of fresh produce dictates the ingredients, some of which are dried and used in the winter months. The Kashmiri cuisine is essentially meat-based, while the eating habits of the Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris differ in its use of certain spices and the prohibition of beef for the Hindus.

The highlight of Kashmiri cuisine is the formal banquet called "wazawan" that includes a spread of over 36 courses cooked all night long by a team of chefs called ‘wazas’ under the supervision of a ‘Vasta waza’ or master chef, descendants of the cooks from Samarkand. The food is characterised by thick gravies using liberal quantities of yoghurt, spices and dried fruits, and is usually cooked in ghee (clarified butter) or mustard oil. Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, is grown locally. It is used extensively to flavour the pulaos (rice dish) and sweets. The popular dishes include the starter yakhni, tabaq naat made of fried ribs, dum aloo (steam cooked potato curry), rogan josh made with mutton, gushtaba, a meatball curry and haleem made from meat and pounded wheat. A Kashmiri meal has to end with a cup of ‘Kahva’, green tea flavoured with cardamom and almonds.

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