By: Namisha Raj
The first thing that comes to my mind when I plan my travel is the food associated with the particular destination. Kashmir is one such place. The moment we talk about Kashmir, its scenic beauty and world famous cuisine (wazwan) comes to my mind. I have travelled to Kashmir numerous times but this time was entirely different as I was introduced to different food specialties of the region.
Eating Rista & Rice at friend’s home
There are few iconic restaurants and streets that are a must visit for foodies, food bloggers and food critics. Being a photographer, for me exploring these streets and old town (downtown) of Srinagar was a must but exploring it through experiencing food became even more exciting for me. Kashmiris are known for their hospitality which I experienced when I was invited by a Kashmiri friend to his home. There was a beautiful table that was set up for me, the menu consisted of mutton kebabs and biryani along with raita, naan and salad. It wasn’t authentic Kashmiri food and my craving for eating authentic food was still there.
Food Served at my friend’s home
Fortunately, my another Kashmiri friend invited me to a wedding and this was the moment I considered myself the luckiest of all. I have never come to Kashmir in the wedding season and this was my chance to attend one and eat the mouthwatering WAZWAN, a truly Royal Feast in its traditional setting.
Kashmiri wedding was a complete eye opener for me. The Kashmiri wedding ceremonies and eating, serving culture is completely different than any other wedding traditions of India.
Kashmiri Wedding- TRAMI at Kashmiri Wedding
The wedding meals are served separately to men and women, men are served first and women have to wait for their turn to eat. An elaborately decorated huge tent (shamiyana) is erected for the purpose where carpets are spread out for seating on the floor. As we sat down for the meal. A dastarkhwan (White table cloth/great spread) was laid out for everyone. We were asked to sit in a group of four, the food is served in TRAMI (a huge copper plate) and the eating portion size is huge and that’s probably the reason we were asked to share the meal. The meal consisted of several mutton based dishes that were served course by course.
I remember some names of the dishes which were absolutely mouth-watering. Rista being one of my favorites. Others are Gushtaba-Yakhni, Abgosht and Tabak Maaz. I was also given a bag in which I could carry the left-over food that I could eat for lunch the next day. The mehmaanawazi that I experienced can be experienced nowhere in the world and one has to be in Kashmir to feel the hospitality extended by the warm hearted people of Kashmir.
Being a coffee lover and an early breakfast person I was looking for a café and I wasn’t sure if I would find one, but to my surprise I found several.
Hot Chocolate at 14th Avenue Café / Pasta at café Book and Bricks
14th Avenue is located at Silk Factory Road and if one wants to have a cup of “hot chocolate” this is the café to be. It’s a perfect café for coffees and shakes, although the owner insists that you try their pizza which one should avoid as it isn’t the best pizza in the town.
Another café “Books and Bricks” at Gogji Bagh is nice and cozy place, I tried “fish & chips” and pasta and to my surprise it was made with perfection like any other cafés in a metropolitan city.
After interacting with some more local friends in Srinagar I realized there is a lot more to explore and experience in terms of food. Srinagar has a many contemporary cafés and restaurants and I am sure I will back soon to experience more food.