Saffron: The Incredible Secret Of Authentic Kashmiri Spices

“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.”
What do you see in your mind when you read the above line? I can only imagine a vast green/brown field with bloomed saffron crocus at the start of winters in Kashmir.

Kashmir-the land ‘owned by God’, has been decorated with all the beauty and rarity and Saffron is one of those rare and beautiful things that grow here in Kashmir. Kashmir is a proud owner of the world’s most precious and expensive spice-Saffron.

The ‘Red-Gold’ has been grown in the fields of Pampore near Srinagar for close to 2500 years. It is believed to be one of the oldest crop that is grown in Kashmir. Saffron forms a remarkable adornment of the beautiful valley of Kashmir.

saffron-in-Kashmir life
Kashmir is India’s prime producer of Saffron and Pampore itself accounts for 80% of the main produce. Pampore has rightly lived up to its reputation of being called the ‘Saffron Town’.
Saffron blooms over the course of a brief three weeks in the fall every year. Carefully plucking the crimson stamen which changes the colour and flavor of the palates is a labour-intensive process.  Hundreds of men, women and children descend on the undulating plains to reap the blooms of the saffron flowers, extract the stigmas, dry them over heat and hand pack with love, for sale.

Among several names given to Saffron -Zafran, Kesar, Kang, Kang Posh are the widely used ones. The hue of the flowers of Saffron represents freshness and purity and is world famous for its delectable taste and aroma. Among several other noted uses, saffron is widely famous as a colouring agent.

Who doesn’t love a colorful and flavourful melting pot of tender meat, rice and dry fruit? A lovely plate of Biriyani is literally incomplete without Saffron. Its delectable taste and aroma is world famous and favours many delicious cuisines. Starting from rice dishes to various sweets, saffron has been used everywhere. Even the much-admired ‘Kahwa’ tea of Kashmir is incomplete without the use of Saffron for its olfactory property.

Saffron is that secret ingredient which has enhancing properties be it for any particular dish, skin or hair. Do you at times envy the fair skin of Kashmiris?

In Kashmir saffron is extensively used to clear skin color and keep it healthy.
But, we don’t encourage the infatuation of some people with fair skin. Remember, every skin colour is beautiful and the color of your skin cannot define the color of your heart.

The king of spice, Saffron has also been used for many centuries for its myriad medicinal properties. Which is why saffron is by far one of the oldest herbs ever used for medicinal purposes in the history of mankind and is still being used in some regions of the world.
Besides being used as a spice and medicine the flowers of the valley is also engaged in the production of dyes, and perfumes.

Once in Pampore, along with the two popular shrines, the lovely sight of millions of purple pods of saffron flower blooms, emanating the sweet scent of autumn to the passersby is undoubtedly the main attraction.


PHERAN- A Dress Defining The Richness Of Kashmir

Ladies-with-Pehran-dancing- kashmiri lifeKashmir has always been adored because of its beauty, rich culture, the spices, the cdress (Pheran) and a lot more. Kashmir has been described as one of the prettiest gift from nature.Once you visit Kashmir you will get emotionally attached to everything there. The feeling of belongingness automatically generates as you explore Kashmir. Kashmir is the place which has been beautifully decorated by god himself.

The place carries a rich, beautiful and a healthy culture. The shikaras, the kahwah (Kashmiri tea) and obviously the “pheran” are the symbols of richness of Kashmiri culture. The pheran is a complete traditional Kashmiri outfit which is worn by both male and female of Kashmir. It is a long gown type dress which is designed according to the climate of Kashmir. The length of pheran reaches to the ankle.

kashmiri-wearing-Pehran- kashmiri life

The term pheran is derived from the Greek word that means “APRON”. There are also beliefs related to pheran that it got its name from Central Asia i.e from Tajikistan as peraband. The actual origin of pheran can be found from the “MUGHALS” who inspired the tradition of long dress.

A pheran is carried with the combination of poots by local Kashmiri people to protect themselves from cold weather. Pheran and poots are the mostly in the same pattern but of different fabric. A poots is long loose cotton dress in the same pattern of pheran. It differs from pheran just in the term of texture. A pheran is made up of pure wool which keeps the body warm. Pheran and poots makes a complete set of attire. Pheran and poots are carried one above the other. This attire looks majestic with narrow sleeves. Pheran has been designed in such a way that it goes completely perfect with both the gender. The embroidery is done on pheran worn by female, and the one worn by male is kept simple without any embroidery.

Tourist wearing pheran traditional dress- Kashmiri life

Pheran was designed according to the cold and snowy winters of Kashmir, but later this became popular because of its distinct design and beautiful style. It started becoming popular around the world. Number of tourists who have visited Kashmir must have got clicked in traditional Kashmiri attire.With its complete styling, a proper pheran is designed and dressed with lots of accessories such as ‘Kasaba’ which is a headgear.
It is stitched just like a turban and tied at back side of head. The front side of head is covered with beautiful silver accessories, those attractive designed jewellery covers the half round of head in a very beautiful manner. The jewellery looks best with pherans. Heavy silver earrings in the designs of jhumkas go perfect with pheran. The embroidery done on pheran are of silver, gold, silk, zari and many more.
Pheran comes in much attractive color with beautiful embroidery. This beautiful dress has a different beauty and has a different charm. This attire has now reached to a different level. Pheran has been introduced to different fashion shows. Many actors and actresses while acting as a Kashmiri are seen in this beautiful attire. It is a beautiful as well a decent outfit, gives the perfect essence of Kashmir!

kashmir cafe culture - kashmiri life

Café culture in Kashmir

Kashmir is often seen as a city with its quintessential natural beauty with the place changing its color from green to yellow to orange with the season. Indeed Kashmir is rightly termed as ‘the Paradise on Earth’ for its own peculiar beauty.
Keeping the beautiful backdrop in mind, on a cool sunny morning how would you feel spending endless hours at your favourite café sipping on some hot coffee? Freaking awesome right?

The café generation and café culture has already found its way in the country and is growing ever since. The scent of freshly brewed coffee has spread in the Paradise too…All you nature lovers out there make a list of these amazing cafes from Kashmir, that’ll satisfy your hunger and quench the thirst of your soul.

These days’ cafes are springing up in the summer capital, Srinagar. These modern-day cafes are designed keeping in mind the change in preferences of the new/younger generation. Next time you are visiting Kashmir keep this list handy.

1.Books and Bricks: For all you bookworms out there.

Address: Gogji Bagh Rd, Opp Amar Singh College, Iqbal Park, Wazir Bagh, Srinagar.

Books and Bricks - srinagar/kashmir cafe- kashmiri life

If you don’t shamelessly indulge in other people’s conversations, or take note of what people are wearing then you should definitely give this place a try. The name matches the reality. Enjoy your quite time surrounded by a rack full of best seller English classics.
And as quoted “Happiness is a cup of coffee and a good book.”

2. 14th Avenue: A café with a beautiful sight

Address: Lal Mandi, Rajbagh (Near Foot Bridge), Srinagar.

14th Avenue - Cafe in srinagar- kashmiri life
Soak up the beautiful sight of the river Jhelum while having some of the yummiest cakes and bakery stuffs from the café. A typical European style café in the midst of the city. Apart that, its cuisine ranges from Italian to Indian, Lebanese and Mediterranean. Spend your evening sipping some coffee while enjoying the sunset.
Oh! What a beautiful sight. Coffee anyone?

3.The Other Side Café – Here, choices are for everyone!

Address: Sarah City Centre Mall, 2nd Floor – Exhibition Crossing, I.G. Road, Srinagar.

The Other Side Café- cafe srinagar- kashmiri life
This is a place where everybody eats and does things they love. Wanna sit back and watch some television shows? Yes of course you can, and no, nobody will be judging you! You can also soothe your mind and free your stress with a choice of melodies from Coke Studio or Bollywood for endless hours while satiating your hunger with delicious food. And you Bibliophiles need not worry, go ahead and choose a quiet corner for yourself.
They have made all efforts for you to return to the restaurant again.

4. Hukus Bukus : Trying to find a café with an outside sitting area?

Address: Honda lane, Rajbagh.Srinagar.

Goodfellas cafe- cafe srinagar- kashmiri life
This café offers you an open space in the backward. You can enjoy your food and coffee while relaxing in the open-air instead of the loud chatty indoor. Well the café also provides a well-lit glam indoor environment.

5. Goodfellas café : A blend of traditional and contemporary.

Address: The Bund, Residency Road.

Goodfellas - Cafe Srinagar- Kashmiri life
This café seems quite determined to provide its visitors a counter balanced architecture. The café reflects the traditional construction of Kashmiri homes that made use of planks of woods for the walls. A perfect blend of modern and traditional architecture is reflected in every piece of furniture. While appreciating the interior views don’t forget the tasty appetizing food plate.
Everyone has a favorite place to visit; who knows may be this will become yours.

Whether you are visiting Kashmir for the first time or you are a local, you must definitely try any one of these cafes or rather all these amazing café.

Kashmiri Apple Crops In Demand In Asian Markets- kashmiri life

The Apple of Paradise

Kashmir, so much diversity!
The many shades of Kashmir will leave a sense of deep joy, contentment and satisfaction in you. It is only nature that will never fail you. Nature adds its dash of color to the dimmed overcast day.
apple orchard Cropped kashmir farm - kashmiri life
Today, let’s walk you through the ‘apple orchards’ of Kashmir. Kashmir is referred to as the ‘famous fruit bowl’ of India. The green apple orchards dotted with snow capped peaks rising above the horizon is a feast for the eyes.
picking apples from kashmir farm - kashmiri life
Kashmiri  apples have gained popularity among the people across the globe for its unique yet delicious taste. These Kashmiri apples are locally termed as “Chunt”. In India, apart from Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal, Kashmir is the prime source of the total Apple production of the country. Apples in India are largely grown in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir’s geography ultimately is the boon for the optimal growth of Apple and thus Kashmiri Apple is the king in quality. You can make an instantaneous judgment on its uniqueness by seeing the distinguished color, shape and quality of the apples. There are around 113 varieties of Kashmiri apples that the valley can boast of.

Chinar tree kashmir - kashmiri life

Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam – the four districts of south Kashmir are known for their tranquil, red as ever apple orchards.
As the chinar leaves slowly starts shedding its green colors while changing its hues towards brighter darker golden, with the incoming autumn season, the orchards will be soon packed with red blooms of apples.
Sopore has the quantity, Shopian has the quality.”

For a breathtaking and stunning experience, a visit to the apple orchards during the summer season is recommended. And, we can give you one reason why May might be the best month for the visit, as you can catch a glimpse of the best of the harvesting season.
And as “The Giving Tree” says, “Come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy”.
You will surely enjoy plucking the juiciest Kashmiri apples from the tress.
harvesting season apple farm- kashmiri life
August is here, and in the Valley around this time the countdown to picking apples from orchards and carefully packing them has begun. Kashmiri apples are specially hand-picked with love and carefully packed in wooden or cardboard boxes waiting to be shipped to the rest of the country and abroad. The home grown apples make their way to almost every home in the world, fresh as ever.

The famous Chinese pilgrim Heun Tsang had mentioned about Kashmiri apples.
All the high praises and compliments from people belonging to different ages and nationalities is enough to turn Kashmir pink.


picking apples from kashmir farm - kashmiri life

And while you are holidaying in Kashmir, your journey isn’t complete if you’ve not tasted the freshly fallen apples below the trees right from the orchards. En-route Pahalgam and Gulmarg via Srinagar you can stop your car to fulfill this wish.

Amidst the sparkling streams, the snow capped mountains and the jaw-dropping beauty of the valley once for all you’ll feel like flying away from the hustle-bustle of regular life.
For more information on the diverse culture of Kashmir, visit kashmirilife