I had the opportunity to travel to Kashmir on Thursday (4th October) I am not exaggerating when I say that these were the most enriching 5 days of my life. I experienced life in its most real form. Being a luxury struck person, I had a comfortable stay in a 5star property but I pushed my boundaries to meet the real people of Kashmir and break conversation with them. I experienced the chilling snow and also the warmth of love when a national awardee RABAB player Noor Mohammad sang Sufi songs for me. I can go on and on but I believe that u must experience this rather than read about it.
Talking about Food… The food in Kashmir is just as heavenly as it’s picturesque beauty. Meat along with rice is the staple food for Kashmiris. I am a foodie that too a vegetarian, so I was really worried about not having too many local cuisine options to taste during my stay in Kashmir but however, the only thing more magnificent than the hills, the mountains, and the valleys is yes- You’re right – the food; even for vegetarians.
Here, are a few dishes that have etched a delectable mark in my food memory. Taj Vivanta has an absolutely breath-taking location, when I asked the chef that I want to try authentic Kashmiri vegetarian snacks, to my surprise he mentioned “Nadru Ki Tikki”, “Nadru” is a staple vegetable that is cooked in every home in Maharashtra. But Nadru Ki Tikki at Taj is nowhere close to what I have ever had made of Nadru.
My next destination was Khyber Resort and Spa, Gulmarg, where I had the best Kesar Phirni that I have ever tasted in my entire travel experience put together. Also not to forget, the quality of Paneer that is used to prepare Paneer based dishes is one of the best qualities of paneer produces and processed in entire India. A paneer dish is must try at Khyber…! This place an exceptionally beautiful combination of a warm luxurious stay and authentic Kashmiri Food.
My most highlighted experience of food was at “The Orchard Retreat and Spa”, Srinagar. This place is supposed to have one of the most talked about chef of Kashmir, Chef Sushil. He made sure that I experience the authentic Kashmir Dishes, best amongst them was Dum Aloo. The menu had Kashmiri Pulao, Haak Saag, Paneer, Dum Aloo and Firni. The highlight was I got an opportunity to enter the Kitchen and learn the process of making Firni with Chef Sunil and other chefs. It was unbelieving the best experience I had so far and I couldn’t stop thanking the entire team of Orchard Retreat and Spa.
Coming next in my food and especially sweet dish experience is Walnut Pie from Moonlight Bakery made purely from honey and dates without any added sugar Pie. Carrot cake at Ahdoos and the delicious fresh Sweet Bread from a local baker at downtown, Srinagar. I was lucky to get a whole experience and I loved every bit of it. There are some exquisite cafes and restaurants that one can’t miss for example Chai Jai for “Kashmiri Kehwa” and Café Liberty for “Paneer Wraps”.
Kashmir has not only kept alive the old traditions of cooking an extensive Wazwan but has also presented the travellers with a lot of restaurants and café options with varied cuisines.