In Photos: Making of wazwan, the royal Kashmiri feast
There is no doubt about the beauty of Kashmir, whether it’s snow-clad mountains, gushing water bodies, or its vibrant gardens.
Besides all its hypnotising natural beauty, Kashmir also has a very special culinary tradition. Locally known as "wazwan", it is a multi-course meal which is predominantly non-vegetarian and is served in a unique way. Traditionally, there used to be seven dishes in the wazwan but nowadays a larger number is served.
Well, cooking such a long list of delicacies in itself is an art and only people specialised in making wazwan are usually preferred. They are locally known as Waze. They are a group of people who know how to prepare wazwan for more than four hundred or more people at one go.
Waze actually means a chef and each group of waze (chefs) has a head chef who guides his army of chefs throughout the preparation of the dishes.
Usually, wazwan is available in all restaurants in Kashmir but it is specially served during marriages which adds a cultural flavour to it. Wazwan is prepared with aromatic spices like cardamom, cloves, saffron, etc. These spices give a special taste and aroma to the food. However, Kashmiri rice forms an important part of the traditional cuisine of Kashmir, striking a balance with the spicy Kashmiri dishes. Traditionally, food in Kashmir is eaten using one's fingers, without the use of spoons, forks or knives.
In marriage ceremonies or any other function, the feast begins with a ritual of washing hands in a movable copper basin recognized as “Tash-t-Nari”. It is taken around by the attendants. The royal Wazwan is served to a group of four people in a large copper platter known as “Trami”.
Generally, meals start with Seekh Kebabs (skewered meat) and tabak maaz (fried rib cuts). These are then followed by the rich main course consisting of dishes such as rista (meatball in a fiery red gravy), zafrani murg (chicken cooked in saffron gravy), daniwal korma (a mutton curry with coriander), marchwangan korma (an extremely spicy lamb dish), aab gosht (lamb cooked in milk), rogan gosh, and yakhni (meat in a curd based curry).
Most of the delicacies in the wazwaan are prepared from the main Kashmiri ingredients of lamb (mutton) saffron and spices which makes them special in every sense.
The meal usually ends with goshtaba, velvety textured meatballs in a white cream based curry cooked in yoghurt.
What makes the Kashmir cuisine special is its meticulous preparation and the traditional way to serve it. All this makes “Wazwan” a spectacular royal repast.