The land of Kashmir is famous for its natural beauty. The snow-capped mountains, the silent Dal lake, and the green natural valleys make this place truly a ‘Paradise on earth.’ But this place is no less of a competition when it comes to food.
Kashmir has so many unique dishes that represent the culture and beauty of this place. When I visited Kashmir its delicacies just blew my mind.
Many Indian states are good at either veg or non-veg dishes in terms of their specialty. But Kashmir offers a lot for everyone. The royal Kashmiri wazwan is famous all over the world. My expedition to Kashmir made me realize that this place has a lot to offer not just to quench my thirst for travel but also to quench my love for food.
So, here I will take you through what Kashmiri foods you must eat in Kashmir. Get ready, you might just feel hungry in the end.
1. Rogan Josh
One of the most famous and sought-after Kashmiri delicacies is Rogan Josh. It is one of the most important dishes in the Kashmiri wazwan. For a meat-lover, this feels like heaven. This dish means a lot to the traditions of Kashmir. In gala events or marriage functions, Rogan Josh is a must.
Rogan Josh is a meat curry made of clarified butter along with braised meat. Usually, it is made of lamb or goat meat. The curry along with brown onions, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, saffron, and Kashmiri red chilies packs a punch. Yogurt makes the base of the curry.
You will find the best of Rogan Josh extremely red in color but that doesn’t come from spicy red chili. Along with Kashmiri red chili, strands of Ratanjot are used along with clarified butter to give the dark red color to the dish.
The preparation style differs in Kashmir among Kashmiri Hindu pandits and Kashmiri Muslims. The aroma of the preparation is mouth-watering. Like the famous Bollywood dialog, ‘How’s the josh?’ it is certainly high in Rogan Josh. You would not want to miss it in Kashmir.
Goshtaba is also another important dish in the Kashmiri wazwan. This dish is made of minced mutton or lamb in white curry.
Goshtaba is made with meatballs cooked in yogurt yakhni curry. The flavourful curry is made with various spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, paprika powder, and black pepper along with fried onions.
The meatballs are not fried. The meatballs are prepared and kept for some time. After that, the meatballs are put inside the yogurt curry. And all the meatballs get cooked in the curry which makes the meatballs very tasty.
The meatballs in Goshtaba are so soft and the curry is so flavourful. I am sure you drooling after it right now.
Tabakmaaz is another preparation of meat that is made of mutton ribs. Unlike Rogan Josh and Goshtaba, Tabakmaaz is a fried lamb dish.
Lamb’s ribs are initially shimmered or cooked in water with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, etc to make the meat tender and absorb the flavors of the spices. The flavored mutton ribs are then fried in ghee or butter. It is a very special dish that is usually only found in Kashmir.
4. Kashmiri Dum Aloo
Many might be thinking is Kashmir all about non-veg food? Not at all. At least one vegetarian dish from Kashmir which is famous all over India is Kashmiri Dum Aloo or Dum Olav.
Kashmiri Dum Aloo differs from other Dum aloo recipes which are famous across India. The Kashmiri version of Dum aloo is made with yogurt along with Kashmiri red chili powder, jeera, and cardamom.
This flavourful dish is famous all over India among vegetarians. It is enjoyed with both rice and poori.
5. Kashmiri Modur Pulao
Kashmiri Modur Pulao is also a very important part of Kashmiri wazwan. Modur pulao is a sweet rice preparation.
Kashmiri pulao is also famous among vegetarian dishes. It is loaded with dry fruits like cashew, raisins, almonds, and dates. The light yellow color of Kashmiri polao comes from saffron. Like many other dishes in Kashmir flavor of saffron is very prominent in this dish as well.
6. Kashmiri Aab Gosht or Doodhe Maaz
This preparation of meat is very unique. Firstly this is cooked in milk and secondly, we associate meat dishes with spicy flavors of paprika or pepper but this dish does not contain any of them.
This dish is prepared with lamb or mutton in milk gravy along with spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and fennel. This dish is rich and hard to digest as milk and meat are difficult for our stomachs.
But like other Kashmiri dishes, the richness of dishes balances with the temperature and climate perfectly.
Rishta or Rista is a dish made of meatballs in red curry. It is very similar to the Goshtaba.
Here the meatballs are not cooked in white yogurt curry. They are simmered in boiling water. Then cooked along with cardamom, cinnamon, and Kashmiri red chili powder to make a flavorful curry.
This can be enjoyed along with roti or naan.
8. Mutton Seekh Kebab
Mutton seekh kebab is not unique to Kashmir though. But the Mutton Seekh kebabs are available in abundance in Kashmir. From small local shops to restaurants you will find them very often. But they are very tasty.
The only stark difference from other Seekh kebabs is that they are quite long in size in Kashmir. The aroma and the softness of the kebabs are very enjoyable. And they are quite pocket-friendly as well.
They serve Seekh kebab with Lavash, a special kind of Kashmiri bread. Along with kebabs, they serve various types of Chatni which are absolutely delicious and very different in taste.
Sheermal is a flatbread made with ghee and dipped in ghee. It is also quite famous in other parts of the country where Mughal influence can be seen. The name of this bread came from Sheer meaning Milk and Mal meaning rub. Which together means bread rubbed with milk. Before baking the bread is rubbed with milk. Though eggwash is also used nowadays.
Sheermal preparations differ in many places. Some people add dry fruits to it. But Sheermal is extremely heavy and rich as it is made with an ample amount of ghee. We can enjoy it with mutton preparations.
10. Kashmiri Kulcha
I was amazed to see how many different types of flatbreads are produced in Kashmir. One of them was Kashmiri Kulcha. On the northern or eastern side of India kulcha signifies a different type of bread that has fillings of masala or bread that are enjoyed with paneer or chicken dishes.
But Kashmiri Kulcha is a cookie-type flatbread that is predominantly enjoyed with tea for breakfast. They are baked inside big ovens and are made of local wheat. This is one of the most popular snacks in Kashmir.
11. Kehwa or kahwa
Though this one is not a dish I cannot complete the food story of Kashmir without mentioning this. Kehwa or Kahwa, a special kind of tea is one of the most enjoyable things I had in Kashmir.
Kehwa is a special kind of green tea prepared along with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, saffron, ashwagandha, etc. The aroma of this tea is intoxicating. I like to drink tea very much. And I probably had 3-4 cups of Kehwa every day in Kashmir.
Kehwa is served hot with strands of saffron and dry fruits like almonds, apricots, pistachio, etc.
Kehwa also has many health benefits. For the climate of Kashmir Kehwa is a perfect drink. And it is one of those items which you must try in Kashmir. Kehwa is available in the market in transportable packages.
12. Kashmiri Baingain
Kashmiri Baingain or eggplant is a delicious veg dish. In this dish, fried eggplants are cooked in a curry made of many spices.
The uniqueness of this dish is that it is made with a tamarind mixture. That’s why it is tangy or Khatta. It can be enjoyed with rice or roti.
13. Muji Gaad- Fish with radish and lotus stem
Fish is not very common in Kashmiri cuisine but this preparation of fish is unique and you should try it in Kashmir. Fish is cooked with chopped pieces of radish and cylindrical lotus stems.
In Kashmir, it is difficult to procure fish but this is quite popular there. The fish is cooked in a curry along with a lot of spices like jeera, cardamom, cinnamon, etc with fried radish strips and pieces of lotus stem. The curry is cooked until it thickens and the fish becomes soft and delicious.
14. Shab Deg
Shab Deg is also another mutton curry made with meatballs along with carrots. Usually, it is made of minced lamb or goat meat. It is food for the winter season.
Shab deg takes a long time to be prepared. But the curry is very delicious. You can have it with various bread. This is a very complex dish and cannot be made by everyone. The wazas( chefs) in Kashmir can only traditionally make this dish.
As it takes a lot of effort you might find it difficult to find local restaurants in Kashmir.
15. Noon Chai
Noon chai is a very unique beverage in Kashmir. Noon means salt. And this tea has salt in it. And to everyone’s surprise Noon chai is pink in color.
This tea is a specialty of the land of Kashmir. It is consumed during the winter season. It contains green tea, salt, cardamom, milk, and baking soda. Baking soda reacts with green tea to change its color to pink.
Kashmiri people consume it with different types of bread for breakfast or snacks.
16. Lyader Tshchman
Lyader Tshchaman or Lyader Chaman is a vegetarian curry made with cottage cheese or paneer. It is also called yellow panner in Kashmir.
Fried cottage cheese is cooked in milk-based gravy along with various spices like turmeric, ginger powder, asafoetida, jeera, cardamom, cinnamon, etc. It is a different style of paneer recipe from what we have in the northern part of India.
17. Kashmiri Style Rajma
Rajma Chawal is one of the most popular dishes in India. In Punjab, Delhi, or any northern state love rajma curry with chawal.
Kashmiri style Rajma is a bit different from other preparations of rajma. The kidney beans used for rajma in Kashmir are smaller in size and maroonish in color. It comes from the Bhaderwah town in Jammu.
Kashmiri-style Rajma preparation also differs among Hindu pandits and Muslims. But the preparation process is closely similar. The dish contains curd and various kinds of spices in it which makes it a rich and flavourful affair.
18. Kashmiri Nadru Yakhni
This is a very unique dish as its main ingredient is not known to many parts of India. It is made of a lotus stem or Kamal Kakdi.
Lotus stem is chopped into pieces and made into a delectable curry with yakhni. This is served mostly in winter as it contains a lot of heat and nutritious value. While in Kashmir you may want to have some of these for sure.
19. Apple juice
This is not a dish and neither uncommon but why I am mentioning it? Because the Kashmiri apple is one of the finest apples all over the world. I have never tasted any apple sweeter than these.
If you are visiting apple valley in Pahalgam you can find fresh apple juice is made and served without adding any sugar. And that tastes amazing. If you are visiting Kashmir soon you must try this.
20. Mutton Yakhni Pulao
Mutton Yakhni pulao or Kashmiri mutton pulao is another popular dish from Kashmir. Basmati rice is cooked along with mutton or gosht in flavourful yakhni or mutton stock.
It is a part of the Kashmiri wazwan. The preparation is very rich as it contains mutton, many different spices along with various types of rich dry fruits. That makes the dish very tasty.
What makes Kashmiri food so special?
Kashmir is a land story. From ancient times to current days this place has experienced a lot. Kashmiri food is the story of two parallel paths going side by side and converging and overlapping in some places. Every food in Kashmir has its tradition and story. Even they are prepared differently among Kashmiri pandits and Muslims. It’s a romantic saga where every food has taken something from its counterpart.
Kashmiri food also describes the lifestyle of Kashmiris. The preciseness of the cooking process explains how much effort they put into making their traditional dishes. They love their food. And if you are also one food lover you must also dive deep into enjoying some of the best dishes to eat in Kashmir.