Having Kashmiri food in Delhi is a phenomenon in itself. As we were declaring our unremitting love for Kashmir, Shangri La’s Eros Hotel invite for The Kashmiri Wazwan delighted us to the core. The menu includes some of the best dishes from the state prepared in authentic style. A unique amalgamation of food from the kitchens of the Kashmiri Pandits and the Muslims, the food also sees seamless integration of the vegetarian and non- vegetarian fare. Kashmiri Pandits avoid the use usage of onion and garlic. Instead they base their dishes around a lot of tomatoes and other Indian spices. Mughal influence also plays a role; that’s why the dishes are predominantly non- vegetarian comprising of mutton, chicken and fish which are mildly spiced. The Kashmiri Food Festival will go on till 12 February.
Distinct elements of the Wazwan were spread out before us. We started off with the Mutton Seekh Kebabs, lamb marinated with Kashmiri spices and cooked in clay oven which gave a nice kick to the palate. Kashmiri Baingan and Paneer Tamatar reflect the cooking style of the Kashmiri Pandits with the former cooked in pran paste and the latter cooked in tomatoes and pran paste. The Kashmiri Pulao is something not to be missed. The Basmati rice are flavoured with saffron and simmered in lamb stew giving it a very distinctive taste with liberal quantities of nuts sprinkled on top. Saffron also imparts a nice colour apart from the flavor. Paya Shorba was a perfect blend of Kashmiri spices slow cooked which gave it a comforting aroma.
Coming to the star elements of Kashmiri food, Tabak Maaz, Rogan Josh and Murgh do Pyaza really stood out. All of these dishes can be cooked in different ways with or without onion and garlic. Tabak Maaz was soaked in yoghurt till tender and then fried. It was nicely cooked and was juicy. Rogan Josh, braised lamb chunks cooked in traditional spices with the striking red colour imparted from the use of chillies was enjoyed well with Khameeri Roti. The ‘murgh’ was succulent and had the right flavours. A large amount of fat was used in the dishes representative of the fact that it helps the natives to survive the harsh climate.
Meanwhile we had Kehwa (traditional tea of Kashmir) to wash down the meal. The Walnut chutney, a perfect accompaniment was nothing like its austere raw form. Mirchi Korma, Gushtba and Rista followed with their rustic flavours. Pretty much the same spices are used in their preparation but the use of yoghurt or tomato makes all the difference. Mirchi Korma is deep fried lamb cooked in Kashmiri spices in onion and tomato gravy whereas Gushtba and Rista are pounded with a wooden hammer and fat is added to keep the balls moist. Gushtba is cooked with curd and milk in Kashmiri spices and pran masala. Rista is cooked with cardamom and chilli powder in pran masala.
We ended our grand meal with a Phirni. Team Salt and sandals recommends a visit!
Where: Shangri La’s Eros Hotel
Lunch: INR 2100 + taxes
Dinner: INR 2300 + taxes