I have never been to Kashmir, but I have a feeling that even though it is mostly snow-covered, the hospitality and food of the valley makes up for the cold climate. Recently, i had a chance to taste the flavours from the kitchen of Kashmir at the Grand hotel at their ongoing food festival #FlavoursOfKashmir at Caraway — and like I imagined, the taste and warmth of our hosts will stay with me for a long time.
Chef Sanjay Browne and Mr Sunil Tickoo of Saal Hospitality welcomed us with some warm cardamon-flavoured Kahwa (traditionally pronounced as qeh-wa), a special tea preparation that’s perfect for cold season.
The Khawa was followed by a yummy amuse-bouche khetchir (a richer version of Khichari) made of boiled rice, walnuts and garnished with charred onion. Chef Browne, mentioned that the idea of holding this food festival was to give people a taste of spices of and herbs that are used in a traditional Indian kitchen.
He mentioned, “We are quite fascinated by global cuisines, but equally wonderful are the flavours of Indian spices. Indian food is not just about chillies, as everyone thinks. We have tried to bring out the taste of other herbs like cardamon, cinnamon, saffron, fennel and other authentic spices.”
After an intriguing discussion on how ancient food practices like beating meat to make it tender and using hand-grinded spices in the preparation of certain dishes are still the secret methods used in traditional kitchens, the chef served us some delicious dishes from the menu.
We started with a sample starter preparation of from both the Pandit and Wazwan cuisine and moved to the main course which was a hearty spread of Gosthaba, Tabak Maza, Rista, Nadur Yakhni, Gaad Nadur, Rogan Josh and Haak. The meal ended with classic desserts like Shufta and Phirni.
Even though we had this meal in a lavish five-star restaurant with Kashmiri songs playing in the background, the taste of the food was as good as a home-made hearty meal and that’s something I won’t forget for long.
Here’s a quick video of what you can expect at this festival:
The Kashmiri festival is on until January 30, 2017, do pay a visit soon and it’s the only dinner so do book in advance. Also, there are a few shopping options that you can browse while you dine, and let us know about your experience.