Mouwal

Kashmir and Wazwan are synonymous when it comes to the culinary cultural expression of this distinct ethnic identity.

Nestled between a few mountain ranges of the gigantic Himalayas in Asia, lies the beautiful, famed, culturally rich and ethnically distinct Kashmir Valley, often known as Switzerland of the East and the paradise on earth to know and visit.

Wazwan remains Kashmir’s flagship cuisine to experience for all. Wazwan is not only a culinary classic, but an experience that no food lover or cultural connoisseur should ever be deprived of. Distinct in identity and rich in maintaining authenticity, this cuisine represents Kashmir for the cross roads of culture that it is so famous for.

Waz-wan: literally means the “waz- chef”, “wan-shop”. So, a “Chef’s Shop” probably indicating the mastery of the chef that whipping up this cuisine requires. We think it’s a pure work of highly skilled food art.

The earliest origin of this cuisine is thought to have come from Bukhara and Samarkand in Central Asia in early 15th Century. Deeply connected to Kashmir through the Silk Route, the other influences on the cuisine are from Persian, Turkish and Mughlai sources. It deeply inculcates the best of these cuisines using distinctly local spices, condiments and taste preferences to finally create a distinct array of a royal spread that has largely remained the same for the past 5 centuries and earned fame and much curiosity the world over.

Wazwan is mostly based on mutton (lamb), which is the staple non-vegetarian preference of the Kashmiris.  Various authentic and specific meat cuts are the mainstay of its preparation. Other very distinct ingredients are the shallot (local, long and slim ones are of essence), Mouwal (naturally occurring and dried cockscomb flower extract for natural color and aroma), Saffron (the king of spice, very specially grown in Kashmir) and local red dried Kashmiri chilis in its powder form (known world over for its color and strong taste) besides a host of spices, condiments and garnishes to create the delectable feast fit for a king. Each cut of the mutton is used in a unique manner, to give the one’s relishing the cuisine a taste of each cut

The other distinct authenticity that this cuisine boasts of maintaining over hundreds of years is its stable method of preparation with recipes shared between generations of chef’s from one to the other. Whether its pounding boneless meat to perfection on a stone with a wooden mallet with just the right amount of animal fat, or flat pan slow roasting of long cut ribs with oodles of stock to achieve the right level of crispness on top and melt in your mouth softness under, or the tiny sliced to perfection tripe laced with fenugreek, or dried whole chilies broth cooked to perfection after running through a muslin sieve, or just the right thickness of kebabs that are long and skinny and slow roasted over coal are just some examples of this work of art cuisine.

Although over time wazwan has been able to accumulate over 50-60 dishes in its unique array, but the mainstay has stayed the following:

With the classic accompaniment of fragrant small grain white rice the following are a part of this classic cuisine:

Starters:

  1. Maithi Maaz (finely cut tripe with fenugreek)
  2. Daeni Phoul (Lamb shank simmered to perfection)
  3. Waza Kokur (Chicken cut in two halves and deep fried and simmered to perfection in a saffron broth)
  4. Tabak Maaz (Roasted lamb ribs simmered in broth to perfection and flat pan fried on top)
  5. Kabab (finely minced meat kababs roasted on skewers over hot coals)

Main Course:

  1. Rista (soft hand pounded meat balls in a fiery red gravy)
  2. Roghan Josh (Bone-in tender leg of lamb meat in a fragrant red gravy laced with shallot paste)
  3. Lahabdaar Kabab (Boat shaped finely minced mutton kababs cooked in a fiery yoghurt and mint sauce)
  4. Daniwal Korma (tender lamb shoulder bone-in meat cooked in a cilantro, yoghurt and turmeric based sauce)
  5. Ras Palak (baby leafy spinach cooked with small meat balls pounded to perfection)
  6. Ruwangan Tchaman (deep friend fresh cottage cheese in a tart tomato and mint sauce)
  7. Aab Gosh (Very tender pieces of bone-in lamb cooked in a thick evaporated sweet milk and broth soup)
  8. Marchewangan Korma (Cooked dried whole chilies ground to perfection and passed through a muslin sieve with bone-in tender pieces of lamb shoulder)
  9. Gushtabe (Velvety textured finely pound meatball in white mint based yogurt sauce)

Sides:

  1. Gande Tchoyet (finely sliced onions in red chili and vinegar)
  2. Duyen Tcheot (a sharp finely minced walnut and yoghurt dip)

Desserts:

  1. Firni (a milk pudding thickened with crème of rice, flavored with cardamom and cinnamon)
  2. Halwa (roasted coarse cream of wheat in clarified butter in a saffron infused sweet syrup)

Two friends came together to make this dream of promoting this unique cuisine to North America a reality .This is a work of pure passion and deep belonging to everything  kashmiri. They aspire to create jobs in America and with a portion of the proceeds feed the hungry in Kashmir.

This unique cuisine fit for a king is now being prepared, packaged and delivered to any doorstep and is made right here in the USA.

Courtesy: Dr. Manejeh Yaqub