Kashmir: A tradition of taste
RICHNESS OF KASHMIRI CUISINE EXPLAINED IN THE BOOK YOU WILL LOVE TO READ, ASHOK OGRA REVIEWS
The breath-taking beauty of Kashmir is best captured in the Persian verse “Gar Firdaus Ba Ru-e-Zameen Ast... Hami ast O, Hami ast O, Hami ast”( If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here , it is here ), that was later popularized by Emperor Jehangir who is known to have fallen in love with the valley.
Synonymous with Kashmir's scenic beauty is the delectable native cuisine, from fresh fruits, crisp vegetables and expensive dry fruits to the most delicious non-vegetarian food. With dishes like rista yakhn, tabak maaz , modur pulao, chuk czarwan, prepared with hours of tedious preparation, it can be said that each Kashmiri dish is a labour of love.The unique feature of Kashmiri cuisine is that the spices used are boiled rather than fried giving the dishes a unique and distinctive flavour and aroma.
It is, therefore, not surprising that Kashmiri cuisine has received fair degree of publicity and attention in recent years starting with Krishna Prasad Dar’s collection of over a hundred Kashmiri recipes that became a classic in its time. First published in mid-1980s, the book has an informative introduction to Kashmiri food, one of the subcontinents most elaborate and interesting cuisines. However, Sarla Razdan’s book “Kashmiri Cuisine Through The Ages” is undoubtedly a rich addition to the literature available on this subject.
“ Kashmiri cuisine is one of the most delectable and ancient cuisines in the world because of the many foreign influences. People are still a trifle inhibited about cooking it, because, like any delicacy, it demands a delicate sense of the instinct after you have measured ingredients by the spoon or the ladle. But Sarla Razdan’s book will chip away the inhibitions and introduce you to a world that cannot be described at the inadequate level of mere words”.
This is how the cover of the book written by Sarla introduces this wonderful book.What distinguishes this book is the presentation of authentic and easy-to-make recipes in a reader friendly manner, and perhaps stands to lure tentative hands to try making it.
The history of modern Kashmiri cuisine can be traced back to the fifteenth century invasion of India by Timur 1398 and the migration of craftsmen and cooks from Samarkand to the valley of Kashmir. The descendants of these cooks, the Wazas, are the master chefs of Kashmir. The ultimate formal banquet in Kashmir is the royal Wazwan. Of its thirty-six courses, between fifteen and thirty can be preparations of meat.
“Kashmiri Cuisine Through The Ages” introduces us to delicacies identified with Muslims and Pandits both. In that sense, this book is a one stop shop for everything about the Kashmiri cuisine. In addition, readers will be amazed to know the different preparations that we can boast of in vegetarian bouquet. Thanks to Sarla, one has come to know that there are 96 dishes under the vegetarian umbrella !
While there is a lot that is common in the Kashmiri Muslim preparations and Pandit cooking, there are some dishes that are unique to both the communities. And that is what makes the Kashmiri cuisine so rich and tempting not only to write about but to also indulge into it. Also, less known is the fact that vegetarian cuisine is no less elaborate – particularly among Pandits with up to 30 different dishes on display on special occasions like marriages.
The book is divided into eight sections with one full chapter devoted to a particular recipe like Snacks, Lamb preparations, Chicken & Fish, Vegetarian dishes, and also chapters devoted to Rice & Bread, Chutneys and Pickles and Desserts. The author has not forgotten the health freaks with a full chapter devoted to low calorie recipes.
“My cooking is appreciated by my friends and my husband says, ‘There is art in Sarla's hands',” she says about a skill that became a passion under the persistent appreciation it received. Her approach to cooking never gathers a competitive edge and continues to remain a hobby she exercises everyday.
Ordinarily, if a person stays abroad, the temptation is to author a book on that country’s cuisine. However, because of the nature of job of her husband – M.K.Razdan who was posted as a PTI Bureau Chief in London and New York - , Sarla decided to write on ‘Kashmiri Cuisine’ as her home was often frequented by visiting Indian dignitaries and she would treat them to Indian ( read Kashmiri ! ) cuisine. Whether it was Lata Mangeshkar or Vajpayee Ji or Sachin Tendulkar, Sarla always delighted their palates with Kashmiri dishes. In addition, the memories of her childhood spent in Srinagar shaped her personality – her fondness and pride in things Kashmiri.
“Kashmiri Cuisine Through The Ages” also gives snapshots of her early life in Srinagar. “I wrote what was in my heart. It is a personal book with true stories,” she says.
It is often said that behind every successful man, there is a woman. Perhaps in the case of Sarla one can say that behind every successful woman, there is an encouraging husband.
Published by Rolli Books, New Delhi, the book carries the mark of good printing. The cover is beautifully designed, though it is not known who conceived it. However, the Index at the end would have been highly beneficial. Also, roti could have been dealt with more elaborately including lavasa, katlam, telwur etc…
With an excellent forward by the noted journalist M.J.Akbar ( “ If music, pointed out Shakespeare, was the food of love then clearly the best thing to do was to play on” ), the book carries excellent photographs that introduces a first-time reader to the beauty of the place and, in a way, cocktails the cuisine with the local climate and the flora and fauna.
The book is a must buy not only for those who want to know more about Kashmiri cuisine but also for those who want to try making these dishes. In that sense, the book also acts as a useful guide.
(The author, a native of Kashmir, is a noted media and management educator. He is currently Director, Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication. Previously, he worked in Discovery Channel & Animal Planet as Vice President for South Asia. He also serves on the Ascent Group that coach valley students for competitive examinations. He can be reached on : email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OP-ED
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, June 17: Union Tourism Minister, Subodh Kant Sahay Friday said 20 new tourist destinations would come up in Jammu and Kashmir. “Twenty new destinations are coming up in More
- Srinagar City
GOVT TO OPEN FACILITY IN OTHER DISTRICTS AS WELL: SOGAMI
Srinagar, June 17: Minister of State for Home, Nasir Sogami on Friday inaugurated the Stress Management Helpline at the Police Control Room Srinagar. Talking to media persons, Sogami said the More
TRANSFER OF POWERS TO PANCHAYATS
Jammu, June 17: Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah today said a Committee headed by Chief Secretary was finalizing the report regarding transfer of powers to the Panchayats. “We want powerful Panchayats More
Pulwama: A group of students sent by army to Bharat Darshan tour on June 6 returned to the valley on Friday. In this connection a function was organised at 55 RR camp, which was attended by More
‘J&K TOURISM: THE WAY FORWARD’
GK BUSINESS REPORTER
Srinagar, June 17: Chairperson, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Dr. Jyotsna Suri today urged the government to come up with an ‘Investment Policy’ in J&K. At a More
- For Contributors