Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over hundreds of years. The first major influence was the food of the Kashmiri Pandits, the Hindus who lived in thevalley in the middle ages. The cuisine was then influenced by the cultures which arrived with the invasion the Kashmir region by Timur from the area of modern Uzbekistan. Subsequently, it has been heavily influenced by othercentral Asian, Persian and Afghan cultures

Kashmir cuisine is quite famous for the gracious use of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, saffron, etc. Spices used in Kashmiri cuisines give special taste and aroma to the food. However, Kashmiri rice forms an importantpart of the traditional food of Kashmir, striking a balance with the spicy Kashmiri dishes. Non-veg, consisting of mutton, chicken, fish, etc forms an important part of Kashmiri cuisine. The routine cooking in Kashmir is acombination of non-veg and vegetables in the same dish.

Non-vegetarian dishes consist of an important part of not only the diet ofa Kashmiri, rather a banquet (wazwan) also. Considered a sign of extra vagant hospitality, non-vegetarian dishes dominate in an official feast (wazwan). Atypical wazwan meal consists of not more than one or two vegetarian dishes.Kashmir cuisine does not pay much attention to sweets. Instead, an important part of the meal is Kahva or green tea, used to wash down a meal.Traditionally, food in Kashmir was eaten by hands, without any spoons, forks orknives. Have a look at some of the popular vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishesof Kashmir and don't miss to relish the delicacies of Kashmir valley on your trip.

Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine: The Kashmiri pandit's food is a very elaborate affair.It forms an important part of hisidentity.The food usually uses a lot of yoghurt and turmeric, and avoids onion and garlic and does not consist of many minced meat dishes unlike the Kashmiri muslim cuisine. An equal emphasis is laid on vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes although a bias for non-vegetarian dishes certainly exists.

Kashmiri Wazawan: The history of Kashmir's traditional cuisine, Wazawan, dates back to the last years of the 14thcentury when the Mongol ruler Timur invaded India in 1348 during the reign of Nasiruddin Muhammad of the Tughlaq dynasty. As a result, there took place amigration of trained weavers, woodcarvers, architects, calligraphers and cooksfrom Samarkand to the Kashmir valley. The descendants of these cooks came to be known as "Wazas", who are the master chefs of Kashmir. Throughout the history like its culture, Kashmir cuisine has stood high and unrivaled by anyother state in India.

In fact, Kashmir is famous for its hospitality. A Gourmet's Delight,Wazawan is the ultimate name in Kashmir banquet. This royal cuisine of Kashmir has been influenced by Iranian, Afghan and Central Asian styles of cooking,despite which it has been able to create an identity of its own. Many big nameshave shown their weakness for this aromatic cuisine. Kashmiri Food, Food in Kashmir - Wazawan, Kashmir Food Guide Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, is said to have often extended his scheduled visits to the Kashmir Valley due to his weakness for the local cuisine.

What makes the Kashmir Cuisine special is the detailed preparation and traditional presentation of sumptuous meals, which comprises 36 courses. All this makes 'wazwaan' a spectacular and royal repast. Seven dishes typically form an inseparable part of the feast - 'tabakh maaz, rogan josh, rista, aabgosh, dhaniwal korma, marchwagan korma and ghustaba. Firin and kahwah (greentea)' conjure delicacies that are rich in taste and texture with mouth-wateringaromas.

This meal is treated with great respect and the preparation is consideredan art. Considerable time and effort are invested into the preparation of thebanquet. The traditional number of courses for the wazwan is thirty-six, though there can be fewer. The preparation is traditionally done by a vasta waza, orhead chef, with the assistance of a court of wazas, or chefs.

Guests are grouped into fours for the serving of the wazwan. The mealbegins with invoking the name of Allah and the washing of hands as a jug and basin called the tash-t-nari are passed among the guests. A large serving dishpiled high with heaps of rice, decorated and quartered by four seekh kababs,four pieces of meth maaz, two tabak maaz, sides of barbecued ribs, one safedkokur, one zafrani kokur, along with other dishes, and Yoghurt (garnished withKashmiri saffron), salads, kashmiri pickles and dips.

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