The Kashmiri Way: Banquets

What does a meeting of political bigwigs, an office picnic and an Eid celebration have in common? If all three are held in Kashmir, the answer is wazwan, the traditional banquet. In conservative societies such as Kashmir’s, all occupations are hereditary. Carpenters’ sons pick up the hammer and saw, barbers’ sons will wield the scissors…

What’s Cooking in Kashmir

There is a wedding in the family, and all day long the courtyard is the scene of activity. A party of professional male cooks spread themselves out under a colourful canopy. The head cook cuts up a whole sheep with a set of wicked looking knives. Nearby, a log fire is being lighted, and an…

Kebabs: Meaty Morsels

Growing up in Hyderabad in the ’seventies, Begum Kulsum would always look forward to weddings. That was when the making of the mo’alla kebab took place. “It was around five feet in diametre and took several kebabchis to prepare. Filled with biryani, the trick was to work dexterously with the sheer quantity of ingredients, specially…

The Cachet of Chocolate

When Andreas Roesing, Pastry Chef of the Grand Hyatt Delhi, visited friends in the French town of Tain-l’Hermitage, his chief memory was the all-pervasive aroma of chocolate in the air. “Every time we’d open the door, it would envelope us. I can hardly remember anything else from that trip.” Chef Roesing may have been visiting…

The Ancient Art of Kebabs

Most people read the Mahabharata for ancient wisdom. When Salma Hussain reads the age-old text, she uncovers recipes for kebabs. Kunduazizi, according to her research, is a kebab which predates the Mughal period by millennia. Its recipe? The meat of a fowl, citrus fruit for marinade, crushed black pepper for seasoning, and spit grilling as…

The Origins of the Wazwan

Walk around in the Old City of Srinagar and if you are lucky, you might hear the strains of wanvun – a rhythmic tune sung by a group of women. Listen closely. You just may hear the rhythmic thwack of wood hitting meat. It’s a sure sign that there’s a wedding being held in the…