'Found Goan warmth all over Kashmir'

“Kashmir is rightly called as “paradise on earth”.
'Found Goan warmth all over Kashmir'
Master Chef Deepa Suhas AwchatGK Photo

Mumbai-based multi-talented, global gourmand awardee author and Master Chef Deepa Suhas Awchat, who recently visited Kashmir with her family for a vacation, in a conversation with Kashmir Ink Correspondent Saqib Malik says the Valley has left her spellbound.

Having good knowledge about cuisines, what is your take on Kashmiri food?

I loved Kashmiri cuisine, which is unique and very flavorful with the right usage of spices such as cloves, cinnamon cardamom, fennel saffron, ginger, world famous Kashmiri chillies etc.

Master Chef Deepa Suhas Awchat
Master Chef Deepa Suhas AwchatGK Photo

Both the non-vegetarian as well as vegetarian dishes are mouthwatering and always leave you with a craving for more. I loved Wazwan food specially Kebabas, “Rista” (Pounded meatballs cooked in red gravy), Rogan Josh, Lotus Yakni (Yoghurt based gravy) “Gushtaba” (Pounded Meat balls cooked with yoghurt and spices), Dum Aaloo etc.

I also loved the cooking of trout fish which was moist and flaky and my favorite drink of hot Kaahwa.

What are the key takeaways of your Kashmir visit and hospitality of people here?

We had a fantastic experience across all the cities we stayed in, especially Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Srinagar. Kashmir is rightly called as “paradise on earth”. It is picturesque and enchanting with the natural beauty of mountain peaks, lush green valleys, rivers and lakes. I found the Kashmiri people to be very warm, welcoming and courteous to tourists. The infrastructure, especially the roads and connectivity is very good. I was really impressed with the cleanliness of the place too.

GK Photo

How different is the Kashmir Valley than what you had thought of it?

We found it safe to travel wherever we visited. I felt it was quite safe for women too. My take on this is that the tourists should respect their tradition and culture, dress appropriately and behave in a manner which does not hurt their sentiments.

What is your word of advice for hospitality sector in Kashmir?

Continue to take care of the locals who are very courteous and warm. They are assets to the hospitality industry. Hotels should strive hard to protect the clean environment by using green renewable energies.

How well can youngsters in Kashmir make a career in aviation, hospitality?

Both have always been booming industries. Due to COVID it did see a huge hit. However thanks to the government efforts of vaccinating people, the travel industries have resumed the operation. I feel hospitality and aviation industry will not only prosper but thrive in the coming years as people are very eager to travel again. The Kashmiris, due to their friendly and courteous nature are the right people to join the two sectors.

Commonality between warm hospitality of Goa and Kashmir?

As all Indian’s believe “Atithi Devo Bhava” and that is what I have seen from the people of Kashmir which is similar as the local Goans. Everyone is warm and welcoming and eager for tourists to come and experience their city.

Your message for the people of Kashmir?

Kashmir is a beautiful state with warm people, steeped in culture. My only message is continue welcoming tourists and continue to promote your culture and tradition on a global level. While at most of the high-end hotels the Kashmiri food served was first rate but I felt the smaller eateries especially around the tourist hubs are focusing more on other cuisines and fast food. They should rather promote their own cuisine.

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