Anyone who has visited Kashmir reverberates the same story. The scenic beauty, the people, ethnicity, culture and of course the food which makes this place paradise on earth. Amidst cold weather, an unrevealed warmth wraps you gently and that is why people like to visit the place over and over. This is the warmest place on earth.
We all know that food brings people together. After the vacation, the only thing which helps us to recollect the memories is the experience we have shared and the food we have tasted. If we start talking about Kashmiri food, there is no end to it. Each one is delicious and invokes its nativity through flavour and taste.
Speaking of which, it reminds me Kashmir’s favourite and crowned feast that is Wazwan. It’s a royal multi-course meal which is an art in its own way. Wazwan is a true gourmet pilgrimage into the realms of a cuisine and a culture that cannot be replicated anywhere else, other than Kashmir.
Almost all the dishes are meat based mostly chicken and lamb. The royal cuisine nearly has 36 courses, of which 15-30 is meat preparations cooked overnight under the supervision of a master chef called Vaste Waze. FYI, everyone cannot prepare Wazwan, it requires special techniques and supervision for making this delicious cuisine.
The word Waz means “Cook” and Wan means “Shop”. For eating Wazwan, a group of four people sits together and share the meal. The meal is served on a large copper plate called Traem. It is a very popular among Kashmiri Muslims before they start their meal they pray to the almighty and then washing their hands in a basin called Tash-t-naer. After this on a large copper plate heaped with rice and quartered by two Sheek Kebabs, four pieces of Methi Korma, two Tabakh Maaz, one Safed Kokur, one Zafran Kokur and many more in are served in the first few courses.
Apart from the main food yoghurt and chutneys are served separately in earthen pots. About 20 items are served by the junior cook, called Waza. A Wazwan must contain at least seven dishes which include Tabakh Maaz, Rista, Rogan Josh, Daniwal Korma, Marchwangan Korma and Gushtaba with which the meal ends. This one of the courses where you have to know the order of the food before you start, or else you won’t be able to savour the dish properly.
The traditional Wazwan contain all these dishes in a platter, starting from Maithi Maaz, Rista Lahabi Kebab, Waza Kokur, Daeni Phoul, Doudha Ras, Rogan Josh, Tabaakh Maaz, Daniwal Korma, Wazak Palak, Aab Gosh, Marchwangan Korma, Kebabs, Gushtaba, Yakh’n, Ruwangan Chhaman, Dum Aelva, Muji Chetintin and Phirni. And to consume everything in one go is nearly impossible, thus people have the privilege to pack the remaining food for home. Wasting food is not supported here and it shouldn’t be supported anywhere.
Next time when you visit Kashmir and if you are lucky then don’t spoil the chance to have this traditional royal feast Wazwan. It is the food for your soul prepared with lots of warmth and skills.