Falaq Tahir Tromboo
I am a Kashmiri who was brought up in South-India and am currently living in the UAE. Every Kashmiri I believe is a born foodie.
Having lived outside Kashmir for most part of life, I always long for wholesome Kashmiri delicacies, especially the ones cooked in homes.
Every year I visit Kashmir for summer vacations Wazwan is a must during my month long stay. The Meethi, Tabakh Maaz, Rista, Martswangan Korma…mmmm…ok, I need to stop listing these mouth-watering dishes, it is distracting!
All these dishes which are specially cooked are delicacies known the world over. For me more than food what is important is how it is served. I love eating in a Trami. Wazwan is perhaps the only meal in the world that brings people together. ☺
Being a land of foodies, Kashmiri cuisine is certainly not limited to just Wazwan.
In fact, for me, Wazwan is a once a year thing. What truly resonates as Kashmiri food for me is the street food and what my mom/aunts cook at home and trust me, I find some of these dishes as amazing as the ones in Wazwan.
During my visits to Kashmir, I was always excited to have street food. Seekh Tujj from Khayam Chowk has always been my favorite. (Makai Point on Dal Boulevard is the new hot spot)– The succulent skewered lamb served with green mint chutney…one just can’t get enough of it! And how can I forget crispy Nadir Mounje and fried river fish Mounje Gaade- I have never been able to get this anywhere except in Kashmir, till date!
Besides Khayyam, we even used to get together and organize Seekh Tuje nights at home every year, we used to buy Lavasa from the nearby Kandur shop and my uncle would manage the barbecue while my mom and aunt made spicy chutneys. We kids used to enjoy looking at the meat being grilled and used to sing and dance our hearts out…these Seekh Tuje sessions are my cherished memories.
People outside Kashmir often presume that Kashmiris wear Pheran and eat Wazwan almost everyday and as a young Kashmiri living outside Kashmir, I was on a crusade to educate people – well, one person at a time.
We often invited our friends home for lunch/dinner and I used to convince Mama to cook Kashmiri dishes.
Once, I remember having invited some of my friends home, it was a couple of days after Eid.
Two of my friends were vegetarian and Mama cooked Dum Aloo, Bum Tsoonth (quince) and Tamatar-Tsaman (Kashmiri cheese) for them. Rogan Josh and Yakhni for others.
My friends loved all the dishes and kept complimenting my Mama’s cooking and of course, wanted the recipes.
Even today, when people ask me about Kashmir- whether it’s safe to visit (that’s always the first question, my heart aches to answer it), when is the right time to visit, places to see, what to eat etc. I tell them “Go, you still have the food to enjoy.”
I tell them that Kashmiri cuisine is so much more than Wazwan…no doubt Wazwan is a must try for one and all. It’s not just the food, it’s an experience that one definitely must not miss on their trip to Kashmir.
But, what they must try is the food Kashmiris eat everyday: Nadir Mounj, Mounje Gade, Seekh Tujj, Seekh Kabab in the streets and cooked quince, Tsok Wangun, Mujje te Gade, Haakh te Maaz, Tsaman te Palak, Kofte, Dum Aalow, Gogje Maaz at Kashmiri homes. Not to forget variety of beverages like pink Kashmiri tea, lipton chai, Kong Kehva, Gulqand Kahva with amazing array of bakery items: Sheermal, Tsochwour (sort of a beagle), Kulcha, Baqir Khani, varieties of pastries and cakes you will not find anywhere in India.
So far whoever has tried all or some of my recommendations have definitely loved them and were glad they did not just do the mainstream touristy things and each one of them, in their trip to the Valley, had met amazing Kashmiris…some of whom even invited them to their homes. There is absolutely no doubt that Kashmiris are and will always be hospitable and I am proud to be a part of this culture.
Their feedback on how much they loved Kashmir, the food, culture and of course, the people always brings a huge smile to my face.
As for me, my crusade of educating people about Kashmir – it’s language, culture and food is still on…one person at a time, wish me luck!
Reach Falak on instagram: rotikapdaaurkitab