The hills and valleys of Kashmir welcome us with open arms. Entering the beautiful state of Kashmir is like walking into heavens embrace. Just like its scenic beauty, the food in Kashmir is one of the most devoured things. The rich, aromatic Kashmiri dishes steeped in traditions have evolved through many generations and are known to be a blend of three different cooking styles – that of Kashmiri Pandits, Muslims and Mughals.
This ultimate ceremonial feast in Kashmir is called ‘Wazwan’ and consists of mostly meat-based dishes. The word ‘waz’ means chef and ‘wan’ denotes an array of meat curries and other elaborate dishes. It’s a princely 36-course banquet, with about 15-34 dishes and is popularly referred to as a ‘Feast Fit for Kings’.
Key Ingredients in Kashmiri Dishes –
The generous use of spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves adds warmth and comfort to Kashmiri curries. Pungent notes are prevalent in most dishes as Kashmiri’s use loads of mustard oil. Kashmiri food also favours zealous use of desi ghee (clarified butter) which makes their food extremely rich to taste and to eat. Curd is used as one of the main ingredients in curries and used as a marinade for kebabs to add depth in the flavours.
The fragrance of spices like saffron and saunf sets Kashmiri meals apart from the rest. The famous Kashmiri red chillies are less pungent than the regular ones but can liven up any regular dish.
Popular Kashmiri Dishes You Must Try –
While all Kashmiri cuisine is mouth-watering, here we have 18 famous Kashmiri dishes which you must try at least once in your lifetime.
1) Mutton Rogan Josh
Mutton Rogan Josh is one of the signature Kashmiri dishes with curry. The meat is cooked with browned onions, spices and yogurt. The liberal use of Kashmiri red chillies imparts a dramatic red colour to the curry. Rogan josh was originally brought to Kashmir by the Mughals.
Mutton Rogan Josh Recipe –
· Step 1- Sauté the whole spices in ghee and prepare saffron milk
To prepare this delicacy, first, prepare the saffron milk by soaking saffron in milk. Next, put a pressure cooker and heat ghee in it. When the ghee is hot enough, add the whole spices and fry for a few seconds.
· Step 2 – Cook mutton with the whole spices
Then, add whole red chillies, cumin seeds and asafoetida in the pressure cooker and fry for a few seconds. Afterwards, add the mutton pieces in it and stir well. Cover with the lid but don’t close it and cook the mutton for 5-6 minutes on medium to high flame. You will notice the meat will turn light brown in colour. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and add 1/2 cup of water in it and stir well with the spices. This will help the mutton in soaking the flavours of all the spices. Then, lower the flame and cook the mutton for 10-15 minutes.
· Step 3 – Mix yoghurt with saffron milk and other spices
Meanwhile, take a small bowl and add all-purpose flour along with yoghurt in it, mix well. In this yoghurt mixture, add saffron milk (step 1), salt, fennel powder, coriander powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder and dry ginger powder (sonth powder). Mix all the spices well in the yoghurt. Once done, add into the pressure cooker. Stir well using a ladle and cook the mutton in yoghurt for at least a minute.
· Step 4 – Add this yoghurt mixture in pressure cooker and slow cook the mutton for 1-2 hours
Then, add 1 cup of water in the pressure cooker and slow cook the mutton for 1-2 hours. Stir in between so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. You can also pressure cook the mutton for 5-6 whistles. Once done, garnish and serve hot with chapati or naan. You can also enjoy this dish with rice.
2) Yogurt Lamb Curry
Naat Yakhn or yogurt lamb curry is a comforting yogurt-based lamb curry cooked in mawal flowers, black and green cardamoms, onion paste and dry mint leaves. Quintessentially Kashmiri!
Yogurt Lamb Curry Recipe –
- To begin making the Yogurt Lamb Curry recipe, first soak Kashmiri red chilies in water for about 30 minutes. Then drain from water and grind into a paste.
- Pressure cook lamb with little salt and a teaspoon of cumin seeds for 1 whistle in a pressure cooker.
- In a wide deep bottom panheat ghee. Add cumin seeds, green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to hot oil. Then add onion paste and sauté until the paste turns golden brown.
- Add the minced garlic and dry ginger powder (you can also add fresh grated ginger in place of dried ginger powder) and sauté for a minute. Add ground red chilies paste and cook for a minute.
- Add cooked lamb pieces without the water and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk yogurt well, add that to the curry, and give it a stir.
- If required add about 1/4 cup water, salt to taste cover and cook the lamb until tender.
- Finally sprinkle garam masala, dried mint leaves, mix and serve hot.
- Serve Yogurt Lamb Curry along with rice, whole wheat lachha parathasor garlic naan for a perfect meal.
3) Paneer Chaman
This traditional Kashmiri dish is every paneer lover’s dream come true. Rich cottage cheese sprinkled with brown and green cardamom is slowly cooked in milk till it’s tender, rich and brown.
Paneer Chaman Recipe –
· Step 1 – Fry paneer and cook onions in spices
Heat ghee in a deep-bottomed pan. Deep fry the paneer pieces and keep aside. They should be lightly golden in color and not completely browned. In the remaining ghee, add ajwain (thymol seeds), clove and allow them to splutter. Now add onions and cook on low flame till the oil separates. Add turmeric, coriander, salt and green chilies at this point.
· Step 2 – Adjust the spices as per your taste
You can always adjust the number of green chilies depending on whether you like to have your food spicy or mild. Now, when the onions are almost cooked, add ginger-garlic paste, mint and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Once the raw smell of the spices disappears, add beaten curd.
· Step 3 – Add curd and cook on low flame
Once the curd is partially absorbed, add the paneer and cream. Mix well and garnish with coriander leaves/mint leaves or kasturi methi.
· Step 4 – Adjust the consistency of the gravy & serve hot
The gravy should neither be too thick nor too thin, so you can accordingly adjust the amount of water. Serve hot with naan, paratha, roti or steamed rice.
Kashmiri Saag is the quintessential winter recipe! All you need is 6 ingredients and 20 minutes to cook up this warm, dish on a chilly winter night. Cooked in mustard oil, Kashmiri saag can be paired with Makki ki Roti.
Kashmiri Saag Recipe –
- To begin, making the Kashmiri Saag Recipe wash and clean the spinach leaves well.
- Finely chop them and set aside.
- In a skillet, heat mustard oil until smoking point on medium high flame. Once it begins to smoke, turn off the flame.
- Now add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, cardamom, red chillies, garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until the garlic begins to turn into a light brown colour.
- Finally add the washed and cut spinach leaves, sprinkle salt and continue to cook on medium-high heat until the spinach wilts down. Add the fennel powder and give Kashmiri Saag a good mix.
- Turn off the flame, check the salt and spices and adjust to suit your taste. Once done transfer the Kashmiri Saag to a serving bowl and serve warm.
- This is how the traditional Kashmiri Saag is made, however if you wish to, towards the end of making the dish, you could add 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder and 1 teaspoon lemon juice and a pinch of sugar, if you like to make your saag more flavoursome.
- Serve Kashmiri Saag Recipe along with Pulkas and Mooli Raita for a simple weekday meal.
5) Khatte Baingan
This is usually served as a side dish in Kashmiri feasts and ceremonies for it’s pop flavours. It’s essentially golden fried aubergines laced in a thick, spicy and zingy gravy.
Khatte Baingan Recipe –
- To begin making the Khatte Baingan recipe, wash and pat dry the cut Brinjals with a towel.
- Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the brinjals till they turn soft and slightly change colour.
- Once done, transfer the fried brinjals to a plate and keep ready.
- Wash and extract the pulp of tamarind and keep this tamarind water ready as well.
- Now heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds and sauté for a minute.
- Next add black peppercorns and sesame seeds and sauté for a few seconds.
- Then add ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell goes.
- Add tomato puree, red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt and mix well.
- Cook till oil starts separating. Then add coriander leaves and tamarind water.
- Bring the gravy to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Finally add the fried Brinjals, mix well and cook for a minute.
- Then reduce heat, close a lid and cook for about 5 minutes till the brinjals are cooked and have absorbed the masalas.
- When the brinjals have cooked and the gravy has become thick, switch off the gas. Transfer the Khatte Baingan to a serving bowl and serve hot.
- Serve Khatte Baingan along with Panchmel Dal, Kachumber Saladand Phulkas for a weekday meal.
6) Dum Aloo
A recipe that’s easy and extremely satisfying. Golden fried potatoes are mixed with yogurt and aromatic spice to give an amazing red curry.
Dum Aaloo Recipe –
- In a heavy bottom pan, heat 3 tablespoon Mustard Oil until it is smoking hot. Add 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds, 1 Dried Bay Leaf, 2 Cloves, 1 Cardamom, 1 Cinnamon Stick and ¼ teaspoon Asafoetida.
- As they splutter, add 1 finely chopped green chilli and 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Fry for a couple of minutes.
- Now add 1.5 tablespoon gram flour and 2 teaspoon kasturi methi.
- Fry on low flame until the gram flour is nutty and fragrant.
- Next add 1 large onion finely chopped.
- Fry on low flame until the onions are golden brown. Stir them constantly in the meanwhile. Now add 1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and ½ teaspoon garam masala powder.
- Cook the spice powders for 2-3 mins on low flame. Add ½ cup thick fresh curd and mix well. Cook it until the oil is oozing from the sides.
- Now add ½ cup tomato puree. Cook on low flame until the oil is oozing from the sides and there is no raw taste of tomatoes.
- Add boiled potatoes and add salt as needed.
- Now add about ½ to ¾ cup of water and let it cook on low flame for 10-12 mins with a lid on.
- As the gravy thickens and oil floats on top, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and remove from heat.
- Serve hot with any Indian flat bread.
Other Popular Kashmiri Dishes –
Kashmiri Style Mutton Ribs
How do you get the perfect crackling mutton ribs? Cook them in milk and spices, wrap them up in gram flour batter and fry them till they turn golden.
Haakh leaves are green in colour and look a lot like spinach. Cook them for 30 minutes with mustard oil and spices for a healthy, filling meal.
Yakhni is a popular yogurt based Kashmiri curry and this version is made with crunchy lotus stem. It’s infused with cardamom ginger, bay leaves and balanced out with rich curd.
Kashmiri Chicken Pulao is a dish bursting with rich flavours of whole spices, Kashmiri chillies and desi ghee. A delicious rice dish brimming with juicy pieces of chicken along with an aroma which will instantly flatter your taste buds!
Rajma or kidney beans is a hugely popular dish to prepare in North Indian homes and paired with cooked rice.
This rajma recipe is full of flavour and chilllies that make this a perfect lunch or dinner meal.
Kashmiri Yakhni Pulao
This dish is a Kashmiri recipe made using rice, chicken and a pool of Indian spices. This pulao recipe can be a great option to serve at family gatherings and different kinds of occasions.
Shab Deg is a forgotten Kashmiri delicacy that triggers nostalgia with the mention of its name alone. Any Kashmiris reading this will understand. Shab Deg is a meat delicacy cooked overnight with patience and richness of ingredients. Shab means night and Deg is a large cooking vessel. A rooster is cooked with turnips and spices overnight to bring out the right flavors in the dish and the vessel is sealed with dough. It is a special dish made for large families or when you are having people over.
Another savoury treat for mutton lovers, Aab Gosh is one of the most popular dishes in Kashmir food and culture. The mutton is cooked in milk and spices and the resultant is flavourful, succulent meat that tears right from the bone. Once you have tasted this, you will forget all other mutton dishes. It is relished with well-cooked saffron rice. This dish is made during special occasions
If you think Kashmir food culture does not have enough vegetarian dishes, then you are wrong. Lyader Tschaman is a Kashmiri cottage cheese cooked in rich creamy gravy. The cottage cheese in Kashmir is yellow in color and so is the gravy. You will find this dish in almost every household. A traditional delicacy even non-vegetarians won’t be able to stop themselves from relishing. Undoubtedly, it is the most sought-after vegetarian Kashmiri food.
Kashmiri Gaad Recipe is served on special occasions and festivals in the month of December in Kashmir. The dish is made up of fish prepared generally with radish or nadur. It is a mixture of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items that gives it a unique taste while hot spices and herbs add to the flavour. Serve the dish after one hour of its preparation so that it settles well. Enjoy the Muji Gaad Fish Radish Recipe with rice and Haakh.
Kashmiri dahi baingan is one of the tasty and unique lip-smacking dishes made in spices which you simply can’t resist. The eggplant is diced and cooked in a yoghurt gravy which make you want more of the dish. It is a perfect Kashmir food fusion served as a side dish. This vegetarian dish which can be cooked in several ways is equally loved by the people of Kashmir.
If you are planning a trip to Kashmir, don’t forget to try Matschgand, a popular Kashmiri cuisine which will make your tastebud happy. It is a dish for the meat eaters which is cooked in spicy red gravy. Very often, nuts and dry fruits are mixed with the dish, to add more flavour to the already lip-smacking dish.