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Wazwan calling

Indulge in the saffron, dry fruits and native spices in a rich Kashmiri spread this season


"THIS IS the best time of the year in Kashmir. We have plenty of snowfall. That will mean more water and ample electricity. Water is very essential for the valley. So, a time for celebration," says Khan Mohammed Rafiq Waza, the noted chef from Srinagar who presents the festive `wazwan' spread for folks in twin cities. "Its going back to tradition. Kashmir is known for its rich culture, not forgetting cuisine and the mehman nawazi," says Sanjukta Roy, communications manager, Taj Hotels, Hyderabad as Firdaus, the essentially north Indian restaurant at Taj Krishna hosts Kulinary Kashmir. The intricately carved samaver holding kahwa at the door urges connoisseurs to indulge. Traditional folk songs from Kashmir played in the opulently decked restaurant (hand made carpets, embroidered diwan covers and drapes) that incidentally overlooks a verdant canopy bring in a whiff of the valley. As one sits down to indulge in the dry fruit rich Kosher pulao, popular korma Rogan josh, mutton dumpling delicacies Rista and Ghushtaba, the saffron flavoured firni and more. Not forgetting the sauces— of walnuts and sultanas, and onion chutney that go well with rice. "Rice is the staple. Roti is eaten with tea," explains Waza. The exotic and laborious cuisine owes it to the ingredients--lotus stem, generous helping of saffron and dry fruits, turmeric pounded in paani ka chakki for that flavour and colour, mildly spicy chillies, native vegetables such as Kashmiri spinach haak that does wonders to the cottage cheese as also the praan, local onions that add a delectable flavour to the rajma prepared without a tomato gravy. "There are a lot of people from twin cities who are coming in to try out the cuisine," says Vishal Bharti, F&B manager, Taj Krishna.

The cuisine is scrumptious and mildly spicy. The healthful and invigorating kahwa with cinnamon, saffron and cardamom balances the robust fare that might just get you pleasantly snoozing. Bon appetit.

SYEDA FARIDA

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