Kashmiri Pandit Food Festival At Vedic Village By Rajni Jinsi

We the people of Kolkata know our food really well.And as much as we love our “aloo posto” and “ilish maach” , we are equally ready to try delicacies from other states whole heartedly.

The Pandits of Kashmir are unique within India in their practice of Shaivism. They abstain from garlic, onions and tomatoes, and on religious days, there are a few vegetables that are not allowed to them, like peas, beans and even spinach. However, haakh, the collard greens that are such an integral part of Kashmiri cuisine, is kosher. And while chicken was traditionally considered unclean, mutton and fish are perfectly legitimate, much DSC_1942to the surprise of their co-religionists elsewhere in the country. Pandit customs and culture marched alongside that of their neighbours, the Muslims, overlapping at times, mostly because of geography: the greens that grew so plentifully in the Valley were available to both: mallow, dandelion, knapweed, sorrel, purslane, rhubarb (sochal, handh, kreatsch, obuj, nuner, pumbe haakh) and because rice has always been the staple, both cuisines have developed with gravied dishes being the mainstay: dry preparations are rather rare. Then too, mustard oil is the favoured medium of cooking for the entire population.

I was really lucky to be a part of the kashmiri pandit food pop up at Vedic Village and also meet Rajni in person.She and her husband was extremely welcoming and jovial and talked to us all about Kashmiri Pandit cuisine,their culture,festivals and habits.It was an afternoon full of laughter and knowledge accompanied by the lovely food by the very talented Rajni Jinsi.She prepares each dish with a lot off affection and that clearly reflects in the food.As we say proper spices and a bit of love takes any food to a different level.

We started our meal with the Nadoor Moonj (Hand pounded lotus stems fried in exotic kashmiri spices) and Kabargah( Lamb ribs cooked in milk with kasmiri spices).The fried lotus stem was something really interesting and to my surprise was absolutely delicious.We loved it so much that the very sweet Rajni even shared its recipe and encouraged us to try it at home.The kabargah on the other hand was very tender with the perfect blend of spices.

For mains we tried the Dum Aloo (Potatoes,curd,asafoetida) ,Masch (meat balls in kashmiri spiced sauce) ,Rogan josh( signature mutton preparation from kashmir).

As accompaniments we had the Kashmiri naan and Modur Polav.

The beauty of the food was the burst of flavours you experience without it being too overwhelming.The aloo dum and Rogan Josh was an absolute favourite and very different to the usual Rogan josh and dum aloo that we have.

We ended our meal with the Shufta which is a mix of dry fruit ,spices and sugar.

The Kashmiri Pandit food is an experience all by itself that was worth trying and we left being extremely satisfied with stories from kashmir,happy memories of a cuisine which is so different yet absolutely beautiful.

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