Kashmir stands at the tri-junction of civilizations both historically and geographically. It has welcomed all cultures and traditions from all around the world. Living the true Indian ethos, Kashmir has always welcomed new skills and learnings with open arms. Its cuisine one of the most important one, which in times has amalgamated various cultures from around the world. As the famous saying goes :- “Rogan o zafaranazPampur, sag azLatapurbrinjazNupur; barrahazNandapur. Puttu o mahiazSopur; mong azKralapur. Arad azKhampur. ShirazShadipur. AngurazRepur”Pampore for ghee and saffron, Letapur for vegetables, Nipur for rice, Nandapur for lamb, Sopore for pattu and fish, Kralapur for dal, Khampur for flour, Shadipur for milk and grapes from Repur. The food culture of the Kashmir Valley is famously known as Zaika-e-Kashmir. They have created a cuisine that is extremely unique from any other region in the world. Their staple food is rice since antiquity, even the phrase “bread and butter” is known as “haakh-batta” (greens and rice) in Kashmiri. Special events like Eid call for the preparation of meat coupled with rice, some vegetables, and salad. Lunch and dinner often consist of large portions of rice, mutton, and vegetables fried in oil with yoghurt. The culture and cuisine of Kashmiris are linked to the larger Indian, Persian, and Central Asian cuisines mixed with local innovations and ingredient availability, dating back to the mythical Mahabharata, the Iranian invasion of Kashmir (which was a part of Gandhara) by Darius in 516 BC, the Mauryans who founded Srinagara, the Gupta Empire, and the invasion of Kashmir by Timur in 1398. The words “kabab” and “korma” have Turkish and Arabic roots, respectively, while “rogan josh,” “yakhaen,” “abgosht,” “rista,” and “goshtaba” have Persian origins.The Kashmiri Pandits are the oldest inhabitants of the Kashmir Valley and introduced turmeric, yogurt and asafoetida (Hing) to Indian cuisine. Kashmiri Pandit food does not contain onion, garlic, eggs, tomato, chicken etc. Some of the main ingredients of Kashmiri Pandit food are asafoetida (soul), dry ginger powder, mustard oil, Kashmiri red chili, yogurt, whole spices.The Kashmiri Muslim tradition includes a multi-course Kashmiri Wazwan meal, which the community considers an essential and vital part of its culture. This multi-course meal traditionally consists of 36 dishes, 15 to 30 of which may be meat-based. Serving dishes made from lentils or legumes during this feast is considered sacrilegious.There is only one main crop of rice in a year and during winter after snowfall the farms are mostly devoid of crops. This entails dependency on animal products during winters. There are two separate types of foods in Kashmir: wazwan, which is what Kashmiri Muslims eat, and batta, which is what Kashmiri Pandits eat.In Kashmir, Muslims refer to meat as maaz and Pandits call it neni. Rice is always served for lunch or dinner in the majority of Kashmiri Pandit and Muslim cuisines. Only in the morning or in the evening is bread served with tea. Plain boiled rice is the primary daily staple diet of the Muslims in Kashmir. With very few exceptions, they are not typically vegetarians. Even for purportedly “vegetarian” meals, meat stock is an important element.“Find me a Kashmiri vegetarian, and I’ll give you a pot of gold”,goes the joke. However, since meat is a costly indulgence, they frequently eat veggie curries. Vegetables, mutton, homemade cheese (paneer), and legumes can all be prepared similarly. Incomparison to Pandit cuisines, Muslim food uses fewer spices. Boiling cock scomb flowers, known as “moaval” in Kashmiri, produces a crimson food colouring that is used in several recipes. The mildly spicy Kashmiri red chilli powder is used by Pandits to season food and give it colour. Muslims avoid serving hot dishes during large feasts and only use chillies in moderation. The way that Pandits and Muslims serve and consume the dishes are also noticeably different, especially when it comes to feasts.Although most of the dishes in Kashmiri cuisine are non-vegetarian, potatoes are something special for a pure vegetarian. Dum Olav or Dum Aaloo, one of the most famous dishes of Kashmiri cuisine.  Aaloo is cooked with yogurt, ginger powder, fennel and other hot spices to give it a unique taste and aroma. A Kashmiri vegetarian favorite, Lyodur Tschaman is cottage cheese cooked in a creamy, turmeric-based sauce. Lyodur Tshaman is one of the few popular vegetarian dishes that are part of Kashmiri cuisine.Kashmir has long list of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies. The crown of the nation is not just soothing to the eyes but also does wonders to the taste buds. This is one of the most important reason for the tourists to swarm the local food joints to get the authentic experience of the Kashmiri cuisine and hospitalities. With the coming of concepts like home stay, both local populace and tourists can move the tourism industry to greater heights.

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