The land of Kashmir has long been revered for its beauty. But, for me as a foodie I derive intrigue when the talk of Wazas or generations of Kashmiri cooks that cook up the royal Wazwan feasts springs up. These cooks are known to stir up close to 30-40 dishes for a single feast sometimes even working overnight with recipes that are a closely guarded secret. So, when Jyran - Tandoor Dining & Lounge at Sofitel, Mumbai decided to hold a Daawat-e-Kashmir festival showcasing glimpses of the elaborate Wazwan, I made a beeline to sample fares of this gastronomic style.
Meat is an integral part of the Kashmiri cuisine and therefore this gastronomy has an extensive repertoire of non-vegetarian preparations. Chicken and mutton are the favored meats for the traditional Wazwan meal. However, there are select vegetarian preparations that served up as well like the famous Dum Aloo, Rajma Masala and Nadru or lotus stem preparations.
The entire menu for the festival was curated by renowned chef Mujeebur Rehman and here is a look at my gluttony at Daawat-e-Kashmir festival.
This chicken broth was arrived at by simmering chicken for hours in a stock of cinnamon, black cardamom and ghee or clarified butter. The heat from the spices proved to be a perfect way to commence a winter evening meal.
TCHAMAN VARI MASALA TIKKA
Tchaman means cottage cheese in the Koshur language spoken in this region. Cottage cheese cubes were cooked in tandoor or clay-fired oven after being coated in the traditional spice mix of Kashmiri cuisine, Vari Masala (made by roasting and grinding fresh spices like mustard, asafoetida, fennel, garlic, red chillies amongst the many in oil and drying the resulting mixture to yield a cake of spices.)
RAJMA AKHROT KEBABA
Rajma or red kidney beans are a popular lentil in the diet of people of Kashmir and generally spurned into a curry to be eaten with rice. However, for this dish the beans were boiled, mashed, mixed with walnuts chunks, made into tikkis and fried in ghee. The tikkis had a crispy crust and were silken textured with each bite also having a nice crunch from the walnuts used. The flavor profile of this appetizer was on the spicier side owing to use of shahzeera, cinnamon, black cardamom & red chillies in the recipe.
KUKUR LEBABDAR TIKKA
Boneless chicken was given a marination of cream, ginger-garlic paste, roasted cumin seed and black cardamom powders. Post marination the chicken was cooked in the charcoal fired oven. The meat was succulent and a subtly spicy flavor.
MAAZ SEEKH KEBAB
A bite into this maaz or mutton seekh immediately hits you with the most prominent spice used so far in the dishes tasted, the black cardamom. Other spices like mace, onion, ginger-garlic were also used in the marination of the minced meat. Besan or Bengal gram flour is mixed with minced meat to help it bind to the seekh or skewer for cooking in the heat from charcoal embers.
This is the signature mutton gravy in a wazwan. Boneless lamb meat is beaten until it assumes a consistency that can be shaped into spheres that are chucked in boiling water with whole spices like shahzeera and back cardamom to tenderise the meat further. This followed by slowly cooking the meat till done in an onion-curd based gravy flavoured with both green and back cardamoms. The dish was creamy and had a hint of sweetness.
KUKUR DHANIWAL KORMA
This luscious chicken gravy was thick, creamy and had a hint of sweetness. The principal ingredients making it flavorful were fresh green coriander, yoghurt and cardamoms - green & black.
This is the most renowned vegetarian dish of the Kashmiri cuisine and finds its way in most restaurants that serve North Indian food. This was your quintessential spicy tomato gravy in which parboiled baby potatoes were simmered until they absorbed flavors from the gravy and were cooked throughly.
Kidney beans were cooked in a thick onion gravy with dollops of ghee and the traditional Vari Masala. This was one simple yet hearty dish.
KUKUR ZAFFRANI YAKHANI PULAO
This was a slow cooked preparation of aromatic, whole spices and chicken on bone that was superbly succulent. This mildly spicy preparation was a treat to the taste buds.
Signature dishes of the aforementioned gastronomy were served as part of set menu as well as a la carte menu until 19th Feb 2017.
I had a lovely time indulging in this festival and wish that it makes a come back soon to Jyran.
- Regional Indian Food & Travel enthusiast