The winds of winter carry the local flavor of Kashmiri dishes.

“Winters are coming!”
Got reminded of Game of Thrones? Well I bet this blog will not be any less exciting than your favorite American TV series! Winter hits ‘Winterfell’ the hardest but our ‘Kashmir’ is also very well known for its harsh winters and nothing can keep you toasty this winter than the warmth and pleasing aroma of delicious food cooked in our very own ‘Koshur Kitchen’. Let the winds of winter carry the local flavor of Kashmiri dishes.

So get set to tickle your taste buds with these favorite winter dishes of Kashmir

Its Harissa time again in the vale.
We, Kashmiris welcome the winter chills with this traditionally prepared delicacy. It is a true experience to relish the age old local recipe. It is originally served as a winter breakfast in Kashmir. The sizzler crackle of the hot oil over the Harissa topped with a tender Kebab and served with a hot Kander Czoth (traditional Tandoori bread) is enough explanation of the delectable dish. The dish will offer you the smoothness of the mutton with an amazing kick of fennel, cardamom and other spices. The making of the perfect Harissa requires tough cooking skills that might put you off. But since we Indians love our meat we will put every effort to nail the Kashmiri Harissa.
Would you like to make an attempt? Thank us later: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/kashmiri-harissa-authentic-recipe-zubair-kirmani-lifefd/1/692564.html

The sun-dried variety
Hokhegad (Koshur Dry fish)
As the time has arrived when the NH1A would get snapped because of heavy snowfall, locals in Kashmir would be ultra-carefully sun-dry their vegetables and fishes and store them for the time when the availability becomes scanty. Hokhegad which is sun-dried fish finds a special place in this variety. Hokhegad has a shelf life of several years just like other dried foods. These dried fishes can be found in market during winter and runs well into mid-summer month (March-April).
If you have asthma, Hokhegad is a good source of protein and acts as a medicine.

Hokh Syun a boon from our Nains – Wangan-Hachi, Al Hachi & Ruwangan Hachi 
And to save all you vegetarians out there, here we are with a lot of options! These recipes are enough to convert all carnivores to vegetarians. Wangan Hachi is actually dried brinjal which is split into 4 sections that are not separated. The sectioned brinjals are then tied on a rope set up like a clothesline and dried in sun. Wangan-hachi is mostly cooked with Moong Dal or Green Gram. Choki Wangan Hachi (Tamarind flavored dried brinjals) is also a favourite dish of ours.
Al Hachi is dried long and slightly thick strands of bottle gourd whose drying method is similar as that of Wangan Hachi. Later these are either cooked with light spices of with tender mutton.
Ruwangan Hachi is dried tomatoes. It can be powdered and used in curries or dishes. This spice mixture is prevalent in most of India.

 

Make a garland of turnips – Gogji Aar
Looking for more vegetarian meal? Here’s one more from our winter menu – Gogji Aar or dried turnips.
We have a very particular way of drying turnips in Kashmir. The turnips are peeled, washed and thickly sliced and a little hole is carved out in the middle of the slice and then they are added to a string which is then tied and sun-dried. Gogji aar is then cooked with cottage cheese, mutton etc.

Handh
Kashmir is a treasure of herbs that has several medicinal uses, let’s end this list with one such sun-dried Handh or spinach green that grows in the wild and can be cooked with chicken in winters as well. These are cooked, famously in the house of a new mother, because it is believed to cause heat in the body and thus benefit both mother and newborn. The feast is called handhbaata.
It also possesses medicinal value and is helpful in treating back-pain, common cold and chest infections. It is also given to anemic patients.

The Kitchen is truly the heart of any Kashmiri home and cooking is love made visible. Our food has the ultimate love and warmth to bring everyone together. To beat the blues this winter try menus from our Kashmiri Kitchen where meals and memories are made together.

The Forgotten Floor Mat of Kashmir – WAGU

If you imagine a real traditional Kashmiri room, chances are you have visualised a clear mental image of a warm and well heated room made of wood /stone masonry wall, traditional thick mud roof on timber structure and traditional ‘Wagu’ flooring which provides excellent protection against a harsh environment.

A few decades back the much valued reed mat, ‘Wagu’, which was a reflection of comfort, versatility, biodegradability and affordability, has now lost its sheen.

This unique reed mat of Kashmir, the environmental friendly ‘Wagu’ was part of our heritage but in course of time the synthetic mats started to flood markets and took over this floor matting technique.

Traditional matting of Kashmir also includes ‘patej’ and ‘gabba’ (Kashmiri names for different kinds of floor matting) were once very common and popular seen in both rural as well as the urban households. Matting in rural areas mostly entailed use of ‘patej’, while urban areas, with no access to the paddy straw saw higher use of ‘wagu’ matting prepared of ‘pechi’.

Originally the material that makes ‘wagu’, a soft and spongy mat, was made of a grass growing in wetland and lakes commonly known as ‘Peich’. After it reaches a height of 6 feet it can be harvested to make these mats. Traditionally after plastering the floors by a thin layer of clay mixture, dried, these floors are covered by the ‘wagu’ mat. It acts as an insulation material to beat the harsh winters.
In mosques, residences and shrines the mat was used and due to its economical nature it was accessible to most households. But now the story is different. Modern Kashmiri homes have become concrete and the concept of floor matting has disappeared.

The art of ’wagu’ mat weaving was not easy as it required a great deal of expertise to shape up a mat out of the raw ingredients and no electrical power was used. Over time ‘wagu’ matting emerged as an art form and a section of people adopted it as their profession. The ‘wagu’ makers gradually took their product to the rural Kashmir and established commerce in villages.

Interestingly enough 53 families residing in Khoon Mohallah in Hazratbal, Srinagar used to be weave the mat by hand. It used to be a hub of ‘wagu’ weavers and all the in the area were involved. But as of today, only handful women across Kashmir practice the art, or profession.

We buy the grass from Bandipora and transport the same to this place on Tongas (horse-driven carts). It consumes too much time and hard word to weave a Wagu and in return, we get just peanuts that too if some Showkeen (man of taste) wants to buy one” quoted Ghulam, ‘wagu’ weaver.
Bashir Ahmad, who still weaves Wagu says that two to three decades back it was the mainstay of income generation for the young, old, men and women. According to the erstwhile weavers the demand for ‘Wagu’ has petered away and customers are hard to come by.

However, with the demand even in rural areas fading, they have started abandoning the trade and are shifting to vegetable farming, paper machie and embroidery work.

It is not the question of a few people losing jobs but of a people losing their heritage,” said a University teacher.
And even though this proverb ‘Old is Gold’ is short, it is most valuable. Sometimes in order to make way for new things letting go of the past is harmful. Losing the heritage of a state is more than just material damage.

 

Long Live Street food of Kashmir

A mouth-watering journey. Long Live Street food of Kashmir!

How to tell if you are a street food addict? Firstly, you’ll be salivating over this Blog’s title ‘Street food of Kashmir’. Secondly, you’ll look on different websites to collect detailed information about these foods and last but not the least you’ll immediately plan a trip to savour the exceptional flavors of streets of Kashmir with us.
Kashmir is known for its wonderful food and it has been home for food loving people from all walks of life! We all know that Kashmir is rich in culture, tradition, arts and crafts, but how many of us have actually experienced the mouthwatering wazwan, the winter delicacy of harissa or the famous street food of Kashmir? The food here is as rich and as old as our culture, arts and crafts.

So let’s start the journey through the soul of Kashmir, the street foods of Kashmir. Let the smell guide you to a plate full of cholesterol rich food.
For all those health conscious people out there after reading the blog you might have to spoil your resolve.

1. Kashmiri lotus stem snack: NADER MONJE

 Long Live Street food of Kashmir- kashmiri life
These are lotus stems pieces dipped in subtle spiced besan(gram flour) batter and usually fried in oil and served with spicy onion chutney. We tested French fries and nader monje and we can tell you for sure these French fries stands nowhere when compared to our very own Nader Monje. After having a plate of this oil dripping delicacy you’ll understand why we crave Kashmiri street foods.

2. A parantha as big as your dream – TOBRUK HALWE-PORATH

A parantha as big as your dream - TOBRUK HALWE-PORATH - Kashmirilife
It’s usually yellow in color made from mixing sooji with ghee and lots of dry fruits. The parantha has a diameter of 3ft and tastes sweet. Sure it will taste better when it is eaten hot.

3. The poor man’s wrap – MASALE TZHOT/MASAAL TCHOT & KRUHUN MASALE

The poor man's wrap - MASALE TZHOT/MASAAL TCHOT & KRUHUN MASALE- kashmiri life
Wanna satisfy your taste buds and end your hunger at the same time? After biting into this Kashmiri version of a wrap you’d have killed two birds with one stone.

4. To compliment your ‘Kahwa’ – SHANGRAM/LALA SHANGRAM


This sweet and gooey delicacy is made by mixing flour, sooji and sugar and deep frying in oil. What’s better than a little crisp outside and the soft spongy centre just melts in your mouth? Yummy it is!

5. For the fish lovers out there, we’ve got you – MONJE GAAD/ GADDE MONJJE

For the fish lovers out there, we've got you - MONJE GAAD/ GADDE MONJJE
If you like fish, I would recommend this snack of Kashmir. Deboned fish deep fried in spiced rice flour and besan. Rich and tasty!

6. A sugared treat – KHAND-E-GAZIR

A sugared treat - KHAND-E-GAZIR - kashmirilife
Crunchy bites into hard candies made from flour dough and ghee followed by a dip in sugar syrup is a sweet-tooth satisfaction. Very popular among children.

7. From the sweet family – BASRAKH

From the sweet family - BASRAKH- kashmiri life
The sugary delicacy from the traditional sweet family made from flour mixed with ghee and then dipped in sugar syrup leaves an after taste in your mouth that’ll leaves you craving for more. A snowball in desert.

8. The eye candy – ANCHAR/PICKLE

The eye candy - ANCHAR/PICKLE- kashmirilife
Tease your brain by looking at the appetizing color of the fresh and tasty vegetable pickle aka Kashmiri style. I don’t want to know the science behind why my mouth waters when I see the colorful, vaer spiced vegetables as long as it is served to me as a side dish with roti or rice.

9. It’s time for you to try Kashmiri Kebabs – TUJJI/TUJJ

It's time for you to try Kashmiri Kebabs - TUJJI/TUJJ- kashmiri life
It’s time to try our home-made Barbeque. A meat lover’s tip for you: You are not a true food lover if you feel ashamed about not wasting a single savory bite of the smoked Kashmiri barbecue, tujje!

10. KULFI/MATKE ICE CREAM

Matka Kulfi- kashmiri life
So if you have a sweet tooth and demand a dessert after meals, don’t shy away from grabbing an ice-cream matka(earthen-ware pot).

Looking for all these street foods at the same place? Try the lanes of Hazratbal.

I rest my case here.
If you have already tried any of these street foods of Kashmir please share your experiences with us.

1.-Header - Kashmiri Gift giving 101: Traditions and customs - Kashmiri life

Kashmiri Gift Giving 101: Traditions And Customs

Let me share a secret today! If you are like me, you love giving gift as much as you love receiving them. There’s absolutely nothing like receiving a gift. Today let’s talk about the gift giving traditions of Kashmir.
Along with its beautiful and vibrant landscapes, lakes, pleasant weather, the valley of Kashmir is culturally and traditionally so unique and vibrant that even people from other states would agree upon it. In our state the idea of congratulating people on new beginnings with its elaborate gifts has been well established since ancient times. This very old tradition that we religiously follow is called ‘Mubarkas gasun’ (Going to each other’s household to congratulate one another on auspicious occasions).

We celebrate almost anything and everything! And as a token of love we present gifts. Just like us our gifts are also unique.

Shower your love on different occasions with a unique gift from this list:

1.Kashmiri Almonds in a gift box

Let Kashmiri Almonds save your time and make your ‘mubarakas (congratulations)‘ even more special. Because of its superiority of taste they are very popular with the consumers. You won’t find almonds like these anywhere outside Kashmir. This festive season make things sweet by not forgetting to put some candies and the fancily pleated money intermingled with the almonds.

2.Kashmiri Almond - Kashmiri Gift giving 101: Traditions and customs - Kashmiri life

2.The power of a Juice crate

Short on time but looking for the perfect gift box? This gift crate combines tradition, savings as well as satisfaction. Tasty juice gift pack is highly in demand owing to its flavor varieties and durability. Aunties’ carrying a juice crate is a common sight here in Kashmir.

3.Juice-crate- Kashmiri Gift giving 101: Traditions and customs - Kashmiri life

3.Perfect and always on demand – Fruits

A basket that has colorful, farm fresh and 100% ripe and juicy fruits is the perfect gift to express happiness on different occasions. Not only that this is also a perfect a gift of wellness you can carry. One gift that was shaped to serve two purposes: share happiness and health.

4.Fruit-basket - Kashmiri Gift giving 101: Traditions and customs - Kashmiri life

4.Bakery and confectionery

From cakes to pastries to patties we Kashmiris are very fond of our breads and buns! Need the best bakery that is sure to impress your guest? Try Just Baked, Crème Bakery, Baker Boy and many more. No get together is ever complete without bakery items. We all have very well know local small bakeries that aare the best place for affordable yet good quality bakery items.

5.A gift that can stand the test of time.Gold

Extravagant generosity. Gold makes an unbeatable impression when given on big career achievements of our children, weddings, the birth of a baby and even when a girl child in the family gets her ears pierced. We gift each other gold as it brings good luck and can even multiply in value.
Popular in this section are the gold coins with a King Edward posing on it.

6.Gold- Kashmiri Gift giving 101: Traditions and customs - Kashmiri life

Having a hard time buying the perfect gift? Why not gift Money to each other in fancy envelopes as a token of love! This is called ‘Vartaav karun’. Giving cash in Kashmiri weddings is a very common practice and we can buy the gift our choice.
7.Money- Kashmiri Gift giving 101: Traditions and customs - Kashmiri life

6.The irreplaceable love for Sweets

We are sweet and we love our sweet treats as well.
Ditch your diabetes villain for a day and go for a box of sweets from the popular ‘Shakti Sweets’ or ‘The Modern Sweets‘ on the Residency Road. This also makes a good gift to bring on an auspicious occasion.

8.Sweet- 7.Money- Kashmiri Gift giving 101: Traditions and customs - Kashmiri life

7.Copper

Copper is recognized as a symbol of wealth. Gifting ‘Traam‘ is an old tradition still treasured in Kashmir.
Forget gold, the traditional wedding gift we love getting and giving is Copper. It comes in various forms, some may bring you ‘Traamuk Toor’ or ‘Kyenz‘ which are traditional rice bowls with intricate designs on the outside and on weddings one also gifts the bride/groom things like the ‘Samavar‘ (Traditional Kashmiri Copper Kettle) and the ‘Isband Soz’ (The Traditional Copper Incense Burner)

Probably the last on our list is the warm hugs. What can replace the indescribable joy of receiving warm hugs? Nothing!

And if you take pleasure in reading then this article is a gift for you from our side.

You do not have to be rich to be generous.”
Kashmiris are generous people and giving makes them happy. Their lifestyle and traditions are very different from the rest of the world. We cherish our traditions and absolutely love them!

 

kashmiri_henna - The Big Fat Kashmiri Hindu Wedding - kashmiri life

The Big Fat Kashmiri Hindu Wedding (Customs and Traditions)

Do you have enough time to spend on the internet today, reading this blog? Then this will be an affair to remember! Far away from the chaos of the city life, in nature’s splendor and hospitality at its best, would you like to read a story of the most unique and remarkable ‘Yes, I do’? You got that right; today we are going to talk about the most beautiful Kashmiri Hindu wedding.

Read on to know about the series of rituals observed before and after the wedding thus making it a prolonged affair.

The stunning Valley of Kashmir becomes even more stunning with the charm and luster added by these weddings. The warmth and simplicity of the Kashmiri people are reflected in their wedding ceremonies. A marriage is considered to be unique and unrepeatable, a once-in-a-life-time moment for both the families. And the most important, not to be missed out part is the ‘jealous ristedaars’ that makes a marriage celebration successful. 😉

To make arrangements distinct, preparations starts a year ago after tecknis (horoscopes) of prospective bride and groom are matched and a wedding date is proposed by the bride’s parents. And well, besides the bride and groom the purohit (priest) is the third most important person. With the consent of the parents the purohit fixes an auspicious day for the wedding.

WEDDING DATE FIXED!

The power of Pre wedding rituals

Marriage is not all merry making! The pre-wedding ritual is the time to ‘set the bar’. You would definitely need a desperate dose of patience to get prepared for the main day. And as elders would say, ‘Patience is the key to a lasting Marriage’. So, hang in there!

And for all you readers out there take a glimpse at the pre-wedding rituals of a Kashmiri wedding:

Kasamdry (the Formal Engagement)

An engagement ceremony takes place fixed as per the Kashmiri calendar. Var (a special rice pudding) is prepared and distributed by the eldest aunt separately in each house.

Livun

Before you want to jump into the wedding celebration head-on, cleansing of the house marks a major preparation in the Kashmiri homes.

Wanvun

Following the livun ritual, till the marriage ceremony, a small sangeet (music) session is held in both the bride’s and the groom’s houses as the next steps in the marriage. The house will prepare and serve guests noon or sheer chai (a salted pink tea) at the end of such singing sessions.

Maenziraat

kashmiri_henna - The Big Fat Kashmiri Hindu Wedding - kashmiri life

One week prior the wedding countdown begins decorating the doors of the houses of the bride and the groom takes place. Following that day on the evening after an elaborate bathing ritual, the eldest aunt of the bride decorates her hand and feet with maenz (henna).

Divagone

A ceremony that marks the transition of the bride and the groom from brahmacharya ashram (Celibate) to grihastha ashram (Householder).
As a sign that suggests that the bride is now ready for the marriage an essential jewelry known as the dejaharu, an ear ornament is worn by the bride after kanishran (bathing in water, rice, milk and curd).

Last in the order but definitely not the least Duribat

Food is an important part of any wedding celebration regardless of culture or religion. As the consumption of meat and meat products is traditionally forbidden in Kashmiri Hindu weddings, a traditional vegetarian lunch is served. The recipes are so satisfying that you’ll want to go meatless for the entire time. Maternal relatives of both sides are invited for the lunch.

THE SIGNIFICANT WEDDING RITUALS

Kashmiri Bride The Big Fat Kashmiri Hindu Wedding - Kashmiri life

You want to look and feel stunning on your wedding day, don’t you? You want to look a bit unreal, yet stylish and elegant. And when speaking of an elegant Kashmiri bride, how can we forget about the ‘Pheran’. Kashmir is a haven for colorful bright pherans. Brides either chose from the ones displayed there or go for a customized tailored Pheran designed with colourful elements. The groom wears a stylized but plain pheran with a sword in his waistband and jootis to match that.
A wedding dress can be lovingly restored as a family heirloom and later on you can narrate stories of the dress to your grand children while reliving the memories.

Grooms are also not spared from wedding rituals. Before the baraati leaves for the bride’s house, the groom must stand on a vyoog (rangoli pattern made of rice flour and colours). And as the ceremonial practice goes, a conch shell is blown to announce his departure and as a gesture of goodwill the family gives away two pots containing some money as alms to poor.

Lagan (Tying the Knot)

The long wait is finally over.
On arrival of the baraati(the bridegroom’s party), the bride is brought out to the place where the groom is made to stand by her maternal uncle. Before the couple is being led to the lagan mandap(an awning below which the wedding rituals are performed) a dwar puja is performed.
Agni (the sacred Fire) plays an important role in various aspects of the Hindu Tradition. The wedding rituals are all performed in front of this sacred fire. Nervous and excited bride and groom see each other for the first time through the images formed in the mirror. After seeing each other to the heart’s content they are made to hold hands in a firm grip symbolizing that the grip doesn’t be weak with the passage of time. Then a cloth is used to cover their hands. This tradition is called Athwas in Kashmiri. Theories of folklore point out that whoever is able to pull out the engagement ring of the other first, that person will be dominant in the relationship. This is followed by the saath pheras (the seven circumambulation of the sacred fire) of Hindu marriage). The first phera is made by stepping on seven one rupee coins putting always her right foot forward first.
The Vivaaha is complete and the couple are now husband and wife in the sight of God, and of course all people!

The Big Fat Kashmiri Hindu Wedding.-Daya Bataah- Kashmiri life

The wedding stuff is all over, and now it’s time to delight the guests with some awesome Kashmiri vegetarian dinner prepared by the waza (cook). The Daya Bataah ceremony is held where the bride and groom are made to eat from the same plate.

Posh Puza

Posh Puzza - The Big Fat Kashmiri Hindu Wedding. - Kashmiri life

Many ends aren’t really endings. At the end of the ceremony, the bride and groom are made to sit in a comfortable position while a red cloth is placed on their heads. Along with Vedic chants, posh (flowers) are offered to the couple by all people around them.

It’s time for the Bidai(the farewell)

The dream marriage is over and now it’s time for the painful moment. It’s time for the bride to leave the most favourite place, her house and go to a new place to new people. Before bidding good bye to her friends and relatives she throws a fistful of raw rice over her shoulder towards that house. It is a tradition most of us are familiar with.

POST-WEDDING TRADITIONS

For those attending the wedding party more than half of the time is spend on a lot of fun filled activities and buying and gifting new clothes and things.

Satraat

Traditionally the couple goes to the bride’s house in the evening where they are presented with new clothes, some salt as shagun and cash. The groom is also presented with a dusa (six-yard pashmina shawl).

Roth Khabar

On the first Saturday or Tuesday after the wedding, the bride’s parents send a roth (traditional long freshly baked cake decorated with nuts) to their son-in-laws family.

Gar Atchun

The bride’s brother and sister comes to the marital home to escort the bride back to her parents home for a day. This ritual is known as Gar Atchun. A grand meal is prepared by the bride’s family. After the meal it’s finally time for the couple to return to her new home while carrying all the gifts presented to her by her parents.

The ‘Lakshmi( Hindu Goddess of prosperity, in the case of the bride)’ is finally home. The last ritual brings us to an end of the authentic Kashmiri Hindu wedding and as we come to the end of the blog,
Here’s to the new beginning and everlasting days of laughter and love.
“A happy marriage is about three things: memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes and a promise to never give up on each other.”

The Story Of A 'City Of 7 Bridges/Kadal'-From The City Of Kashmir

The Story Of A ‘City Of 7 Bridges/Kadal’-From The City Of Kashmir

The old city of Srinagar – An Indian city that still holds on to its medieval charm with its meandering roads, smells and sounds from its bustling bazaars, the muddy brown river Jhelum and the of-course the lifelines of the city, the Kadals. It’ll seem as if you have stepped into the pages of an enchanting storybook.

Today let us dive into one such page of the book. About 80kms south of Srinagar, the integral part of the city, the muddy brown river Jhelum passes from Verinag to the Wular Lake in the north. Settlers relied on this river for commercial vitality.
The two banks of the river are knitted together with the help of the bridges which are naturally divided by the Jhelum. There are a total of eight bridges connecting the two banks of the river. And as love connects one to the other, it takes both sides to build a bridge.
Therefore I guess the same word ‘Kadal’ means ‘a bridge’ in Kashmiri and ‘love’ in Tamil.

Jhelum- Kashmiri Life- City Of 7 Bridges/Kadal

The Jhelum River runs eight bridges spanning the city. The bridges are, Amira Kadal, Habba Kadal, Fateh Kadal, Zaina Kadal, Aali Kadal, Nawa Kadal, Safa Kadal and Zero Bridge. Each of these bridges has a history as rich and unique as the place itself.

Don’t be surprised if you get a view of Kashmir, having buildings of old bricks and stone work lining both sides of the river, from any of the old city’s bridges.

Amira Kadal – The first bridge

amira kadal_old_Bridge in Srinagar 1950s - Kashmiri Life
The heart is the first organ to form during the development of the body. Probably that is the reason ‘Amira Kadal’ is referred to as ‘The heart of Srinagar’. Dating back from the 1770s, during the Afghan rule over the valley through the re-construction in 1982, the bridge adds to the feel of the local life and livelihood. Flocks of friendly welcoming bunch of fisherwomen are seen doing business sticking to the walkway. Take out your camera and show your photography skills or simply buy them to cook some Kashmiri style fish.

Haba Kadal – The second bridge

Habba-Kadal-old-bridge-Kashmiri Life- City Of 7 Bridges/Kadal
A very familiar view from the window of the small lower houses located across the river during the 1980s was that of goods being transported on horse carts. The mountain peaks of Kashmir Valley formed a magnificent backdrop of the Habba-Kadal area. Take a walk of the entire historic bridge to get a sight of the hub of commercial activity. Recently there’s an ongoing work at the bridge.

Fateh Kadal – The third bridge

Fateh kadal - Kashmiri Life- City Of 7 Bridges/Kadal
The kadal was built during Fateh Khan’s rule and thus it is known how the bridge got its name. Being one of the oldest among all the bridges it is now in a crumbling state.

Zain Kadal – The fourth bridge

Zaina kadal - Fateh kadal - Kashmiri Life- City Of 7 Bridges/Kadal
The city was divided into two halves by the Jhelum which finally united after Sultan Zainul Aabideen built the only connecting link, the Zaina Kadal. It is one of the city’s oldest bridges. A hope of togetherness stands tall with the Khanqah-i-Moulla on one side and a temple on the other. The architecture of this bridge is the best preserved example of ancient Kashmir.

Ail Kadal – The fifth bridge

ali kadal srinagar vintage - Kashmiri Life- City Of 7 Bridges/Kadal
Earlier, the rulers had all the time and privilege to adjust things to their heart’s content. Sultan Ali Shah had also done something similar. In a wish to get the beautiful panoramic view of the splashing water of the Jhelum and to enjoy the gentle breeze that blows, he created this bridge. However now you might not get such a view as the old bridge was burnt down.

Nawa Kadal – The sixth bridge

The New bridge or Boat Bridge was destroyed completely and rebuilt by the then CM Sheikh Abdulla.

Safa Kadal – The seventh bridge

Saffa Kadal 7th bridge 1915-Kashmiri Life- City Of 7 Bridges/Kadal
The Safa Kadal in Kashmir is perhaps the oldest bridge in the league. It depicts a long story of achievements of the skilled workers who hand-crafted the bridge on the gushing Jhelum.

Though there are a total of eight bridges that connects the two banks of the river, yet Srinagar is known as the ‘city of seven bridges’. Well, this is the story of ‘Zero’ who has no place. There’s a bridge in Srinagar by the name of Zero. And the story goes like this; this bridge was built by a deaf contractor and was therefore called ‘zorr Kadal’. In the due course of time the name changed to become ‘Zero bridge’. Therefore it did not find its place on the list.

“An address of Kashmiri culture and heritage, the bridge provides a grand view of the main city, now usually being referred as the old city.”
From then to now, most of these bridges have witnessed the history of Kashmir.

A small tip for the travelers, make sure to take a walk around the city instead of just spending hours at the stores. You can see stories and histories unfold while you walk instead of realizing that you’ve walked for hours.

Go for this walk to see this Kashmir, you haven’t seen otherwise!

Fruit variety in kashmir - kashmiri life

Varieties Of Fruits Grown In The Valley Of Kashmir

Have you ever painted an image of Paradise in your mind? Typically you must have imagined people lying on clouds, wearing wings and playing harps. It is a place to endless kashmir fruit gardens and vineyards whose wilderness you shall rejoice. There is peace and joy in the place where God dwells.
And going by Amir Khusro’s famous words “Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, hameen asto, hameen asto, hameen ast” literally translated as” If there is Paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here, it is here”, Kashmir, is that Paradise on Earth.

Yes, to visit Heaven while you are still on Earth you must come to Kashmir- India’s most picturesque state. You will feel the grey blanket of clouds hanging low on your face, and as the gentle wind will guide you around the orchards you will feel happy and contented.

Surrounded by the snow-hooded Himalayan Ranges, Kashmir is an endearing abode of scenic charisma.  Along with its scenic beauty there’s a bountiful supply of fruits in the heaven on earth whose taste and flavor has no match. It has been rightly described as the land of fruits. Today let’s take the route to fruit.
Keep your eyes on the page; you’ll be surprised to know the list.

Let’s start with the popular ones:

1. An Apple a Day keeps the Doctor away

Did you know, 80% of the apples supplied to the rest of the country come right from the valley. The sweetest and the finest varieties of apples grow here in Kashmir. Explore Srinagar, Budgam, Baramullah, Anantnag, Pulwama and Kupwara if you want to reach for the best apples.

Apple kashmir-  kashmiri life
2. Nourish bowl for the soul-Pomegranate

Orchards of Kashmir are naturally laden with the nutritionally rich fruit Anaar, primarily in the month of September. As always, the Kashmiri variety of the ruby red fruit is different from other varieties. Don’t be surprised if the air smells of pomegranate and around every corner you catch a glimpse of the rounded shrub while on your way. Pomegranate tress are scattered all over Srinagar city.

pomegranate kashmir - Kashmeri life
3.Pretty as Peach

How, many a times you’ve stopped near the fruits section and glanced at the tempting peaches whenever you’ve gone grocery shopping in a mall. Will it excite you to know that not all peaches on the stores are imports? Yes. The temperate areas of Jammu and Kashmir grow a variety of Peaches known as ‘Prabhat’. Peaches grow here from April to Late June. This summer may be try some sweet velvety peaches along with the always favourite mangoes.

peahes kashmir - Kashmiri life

4.You are ‘Pear’fect!

Pears are some of the oldest fruit in existence which we see in the valley today. The land has been growing several varieties of centuries old traditional fruits. A superior variety of good firm pear with a rich aroma is grown in Kashmir.

pear kashmir - kashmiri life

5.Evergreen Olives.

Many of you will be surprised to know that olives were found in Kashmir. Yes, apart from New Zealand and parts of Argentina, olives are successfully grown in Srinagar. Uri, Banhihal and Ranban areas of Kashmir have the most suitable weather conditions for the cultivation of olives. The evergreen olive trees are famous for their therapeutic character.

olives kashmir - kashmiri life

6.You are Plum perfect!

Welcome to Rawalpora in Srinagar where you’ll find an entirely carved out plum orchards in between vast farmlands. This ‘sweet-soury’ fruit is grown largely in Srinagar and many other districts. One of the main varieties produced in Kashmir is ‘centrose plum’. The other two varieties are ‘silver plum’ and ‘Chogandhra’ and are grown only on a small scale.

PlumTree kashmir - kashmiri life
7.Don’t let the outside fool you-Kiwi

Who would’ve thought that the brown fuzzy skin on the outside would cut open into a bright green flesh dotted with an array of tiny black seeds? Ripe Kiwi fruits taste sweet and mellow with a mix of a refreshing tangy flavor. The growing of Kiwis in Kashmir shows how much potential the land has in terms of horticulture and floriculture.

PlumTree kashmir - kashmiri life

8.Ripe and Golden Apricots

Belonging to the family of plums and peaches, apricots are a daily diet must have to lead a healthy lifestyle. This wonder fruit is good for a lot of organs from the human eye to the heart and also the bones. Kashmir is the home to such wonders of fruits. The soil, environment and climate facilitate growth of these temperate fruits.

Apricot fruits kashmir, kashmiri life
9.You stand out like a Strawberry in a bowl of peas

Have you seen a strawberry bed? The red juicy strawberries stand out in the vibrant green ground cover. Strawberries are mostly grown in kitchen gardens. Besides Srinagar, the always in demand strawberries are grown in Ganderbal, Budgam, Baramulla, Bandipora, Kupwara, Islamabad and Pulwama.

strawberry kashmir - kashmiri life
10.With the Cherry-on-top

Not surprisingly this mouth-watering delicious fruit thrive in the colder climate of Jammu and Kashmir. Cherries are also considered as pre historic fruits cultivated all over the world. As of 2014, Kashmir, in India dedicated the most land to cherry production.

cherry kashmir - kashmiri life
No wonder, the valley of Kashmir has been rightly termed as the ‘Fruit Bowl of India’ with such vast varieties of fruits.

The much promised beauty is waiting to be unraveled. Come, visit Kashmir!

mogra-kashmiri-saffron- kashmiri life

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.

Ladies-with-Pehran-dancing- kashmiri life

PHERAN- A Dress Defining The Richness Of Kashmir

Kashmir 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.