“Gar firdous, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto”
(If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here)
Kashmir, the Paradise on Earth is not just soothing to the eyes but also pleasing to the taste buds. Kashmiri Pandit cuisine, with its long list of predominantly non-vegetarian, mouth watering delicacies will not only leave your tummy satiated but will also keep your soul craving for just a little more.
Every Bengali should at least once in their lifetime, taste this authentic Kashmiri Pandit food that is devoid of ginger and garlic yet loaded with spices like cardamom, fennel, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, saffron and the use of hing/asafetida to add that extra layer of flavour to their unique dishes!
Kashmiris love their food to be either richly coloured and flavored with fennel and Kashmiri chilies (among other spices) or, lightly spiced, with whitish, yogurt-based gravy. But don’t be fooled by the fiery red colour, it’s not even half as spicy as it looks. The aroma of these carefully curated delicacies would not only tantalize your senses but also make you realize that one plate is not enough to accommodate this slice of heaven.
Team Beacon Kolkata got a first-hand experience of tasting authentic Kashmiri Pandit food that is mild in taste and rich in flavor, churned out by the excellent home chef Rajni Jinsi, whose food was a complex and enticing mix of smells and flavour.
“My secret ingredient is ground cardamom that I have specially carried with me and used in most of my preparations tonight.”
“In Kashmir, we have a good supply of fresh river fish that we call Kursher gaad and the fishes that come from outside Kashmir are called Punjeb gaad, meaning outsiders.” – chirped a happy Rajni. “Among Bengali food I love alu posto, fish curry and daal er dhokla.”
Rajni’s pop up Kasmiri Pandit food at the Vedic Village Spa and Resorts saw a variety of dishes that were new and welcoming to the Bengali palette. Among the various overpowering taste, the Kashmiri dum alu (rich in whole spices with thick gravy) definitely ruled the roost.
“Kashmir mai kehte hai, jisko dum alu banana ah gaya, usko sab kuch ah gaya.”
Some of the other notable items were Kabargah (fried lamb ribs cooked in milk and blended with kashmiri spices) that goes along well with a modur(sweet) pulav and walnut chutney, Nadur Gaad (fish cooked with lotus stem) and ofcourse the Rogan Josh. But the icing on the cake was the shufta- a dessert that is a mixture of dry fruits and balanced perfectly by just the right amount of diced cottage cheese.
We got chatty with this wonderful Kashmiri Pandit chef and here is what she had to say- “I have lived in Kolkata for about 30 yrs and all our Bengali friends have relished my handmade food … presently I cater food to small parties in Delhi but someday if I have the opportunity to open a restaurant of my own, I would love the ambiance to be that of earlier Kashmir where everyone would be welcomed and served personally. They will sit on the carpets, rest on bolsters and their hands would be washed so that they can relish the food with their fingers. There would be Kashmiri music playing in the background and the walls would be decorated with pictures of our beautiful Kashmiri girls.”
We wish Rajni all the best and hope to visit her perfectly idealized restaurant soon!