Wazwan – Authentic Kashmiri Cuisine

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Wazwan (Kashmiri: وازِوان) is a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is considered as an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture and identity. Almost all the dishes are meat-based using lamb or chicken with few vegetarian dishes. It is popular throughout the Kashmir. Moreover, Wazwan is also served internationally at Kashmiri food festivals and reunions.

In the Kashmiri language, waz means ‘cook’ or ‘cooking’ and wan means ‘shop’. The ultimate formal banquet in Kashmir is the royal wazwan. Of its thirty-six courses, between fifteen and thirty can be preparations of meat, cooked overnight under the supervision of a master chef called a wouste waze. Guests are seated in groups of four and share the meal out of a large copper plate called the traem. A ritual washing of hands in a portable basin called the Tash-t-naer, which is taken around by attendants. Then the traem arrives, heaped with rice, quartered by two seekh kababs and contains four pieces of methi maaz, (mutton intestines flavored with a spice mixture containing dried fenugreek (methi) leaves), two tabakh maaz (twice-cooked lamb ribs, initially braised with ground spices , then browned in ghee), one safed kokur (chicken with white sauce), one zafran kokur (chicken with saffron sauce), and the first few courses. Yogurt and chutney are served separately in small earthen pots. Up to about 20 items are served thereafter by waza (the junior cook). Seven dishes are a must for these occasions — tabakh maaz, rista (meatballs in a red, paprika-saffron-fennel spice gravy colored with dyer’s alkanet), rogan josh, daniwal korma (lamb roasted with yoghurt, spices and onion puree, topped with coriander leaves), aab gosh (lamb chunks cooked with a fennel-based spice mixture, cardamom and partially evaporated milk), marchhwangan korma (chicken legs/thighs cooked in a spicy browned-onion sauce) and gushtaba (meatballs cooked in a spicy yoghurt gravy). The main course usually ends with gushtaba. The Gushtaba is a large meatball which signals the end of the main course. After that, desserts are served. In winters, the dessert can be a hot sweet dish and in summers, it is usually something cold.

List of main dishes

  • Rista (meatballs in a fiery red gravy)
  • Lahabi kabab or Moachi kabab (flattened mutton kababs cooked in yogurt)
  • Waza kokur (two halves or two full chicken cooked whole)
  • Daeni phoul (mutton dish)
  • Doudha ras (mutton cooked in sweet milk gravy)
  • Rogan josh (tender lamb cooked with Kashmiri spices)
  • Xcheerh Gushtaba A soft meatball with Apricot inside cooked with yogurt.
  • Tabak maaz (ribs of lamb simmered in yogurt till tender, then fried)
  • Daniwal korma (a mutton curry with coriander)
  • Waza palak (green spinach cooked with small mutton balls known as paliki riste)
  • Aab gosh (lamb cooked in milk curry)
  • Marchwangan korma (an extremely spicy lamb dish)
  • Kabab (minced meat roasted on skewers over hot coals)
  • Gushtaba (a velvety textured meatball in white yogurt gravy)

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