flavors of kashmir- kashmiri life

Tracing the flavors of Kashmir

Kashmir along with its beauty is famous for the mouth-watering Kashmiri cuisine which is popular among the connoisseurs. Jammu and Kashmir, a state in Northern India can boast of several spices that bring out the authentic Kashmiri taste in various dishes.
Spices like Saffron (Kesar), Kashmiri red chili powder (koshur martsivagun or koshur marchwagan), shahi jeera (shahi jeera, black cumin, Kashmiri jeera, Himali jeera, Koshur zur, or kala jeera), which have been used traditionally in the cuisine of Kashmir Valley region. The genuine cuisine from Kashmir is mild in taste and recognized through its rich flavour with the use of different spices.

  • KESAR

Saffron - kashmir - kashmiri life

The first name that’ll cross your mind whenever we are talking about Kashmiri spices is Saffron (Kesar). Kashmiri Saffron is often called as “Lachha” or “Guchhi”. It is world’s most expensive spice in the world that grows exclusively in the valley. Saffron can be used as a colouring, flavouring agent and as a spice. Saffron has a particular crimson shade and is added in special meals dishes and drinks additionally, that require this spice. The Saffron is derives from a very small plant that grows on well-drained fields of Pampore. It is also known as Soul of ‘Koshur ‘delicacies.

  •  KOSHUR MARCHWAGAN

kashmir lal mirch - flavors of kashmir - kashmiri life

For most of us Indians, what is good food if we are not burning over some red chillies? The pungent taste, bright red colour and off course the freshness is never too bad. Red Chilly, the most integral part of any Kashmiri cuisine is referred to as koshur martsivagun/ koshur marchwagan. It’s present in pod form and is powdered and utilized. It however is gentle in heat and provides a red wine color to make the dish more appealing.

  • SHAHI JEERA

shahi kashmiri jeera - flavors of kashmir- kashmiri life

North Indian cuisine has been influenced by Shahi cuisine as a result a no of highly aromatic spices are found in this region. Shahi Jeera is one such spice being cultivated only in the valley region. Though it might replicate the black common cumin, there’s a vast difference in the flavors. Shahi jeera is a mix of very mildly and slightly sweet notes. Shahi Jeera when cooked gives out an excellent smell of earthiness. This spice is variously called shahi jeera, black cumin, Kashmiri jeera, Himali jeera, Koshur zur.

  • SONTH

dry-ginger-powder-sonth - kashmir - kashmiri life

In typical Kashmiri gravies a mild brownish powder referred to as sonth or shount is used. It’s actually dried ginger powder a general used spice in Kashmir Valley. Once more its presence is well recognized and added to particular dishes solely. That is distinctive spice comes from fresh ginger that is dried before being used. It is utilized in authentic Kashmiri dishes.

  • BAEDYN

fennel seeds - kashmir - kashmiri life

Another spice which is used extensively in real Kashmiri cuisine is baedyn. The fennel seed is lightly dry roasted and grounded to a powdered form. It is the main ingredient that is used in many regular veg and non-veg cuisines all over Kashmir. This positively enhances the style and brings a fresh scent of nature to the dishes.

  • ZERESHK

zereshk - flavors of kashmir- kashmiri life

Zereshk is one other spice of Kashmir. These are a mild, slightly sweet, tangy Currant Berries that are utilized in few particular dishes. These seeds are used extensively in Persian dishes. These berries add a gorgeous color and flavor to the dishes. Its use is confined to a handful of dishes.
Kashmir has always been a gourmet’s paradise. Kashmiris are so much particular about their spices and they know the exact combination of spices to get the authentic flavor of a specific dish. So when you land up in Kashmir be sure to be greeted with pure authentic Kashmiri delicacies. Plan a trip soon, we’ve given you a reason to visit Kashmir.

Dances-Of-Kashmir - kashmiri life

Famous Folk Dance forms of Kashmir

The city of Jammu and Kashmir reflects its myriad culture in a beautiful amalgamation of religion, festivals, food, art, crafts, dance and music. Amidst Kashmir’s rich scenic beauty lie its traditional dance forms.

The city is dyed with vibrant hues of its peculiar beauty and its rich traditions. The traditional folk dance preserved by the locals reflects the rustic vigor of the lifestyle of its people. The Folklore of Kashmir is deeply rooted in life of the local people and their passion is reflected in every performance ensuring that such ethos is not lost to future generations.

Get an inside look in the various traditional dance forms of Kashmir:

1. Rouf Dance

Rouf Dance - kashmir - kashmir life
One of the most popular traditional spring time dance of Kashmir is Rouf. This beautiful dance form is usually performed during all the festive occasions, especially during Id and Ramadan days. The dance is performed by a group of women lined up facing each other. The simple yet intricate footwork of Rouf, termed as Chakri in local dialect, is creative therapy as well as an artistic treat.

2. Bhand Pather

Bhand Pather - kashmir - kashmir life

 

Bhand Pather is a fading traditional folk art which is performed in theatres of Kashmir, usually performed in social and cultural functions. It makes a powerful combination of satirical and realistic drama, portraying social traditions and evils.

3. Bhand Jashan

 

Bhand Jashan | Kashmir| kashmir life

Bhand Jashan is another one of the Kashmiri folk dances. A very simple yet attractive dance performed by a group of artists putting on gestures of a clown (Bhand), along with some light music.

4. Bacha Nagma

Bacha Nagma - kashmir - kashmir life

This is one of the major folk dance form where young boys of Kashmir perform, particularly during the harvest season. One of the young boys dresses up as a female dancer, performing in a stage where the music used is quite loud. Dancers clad themselves in rich colorful costumes and move with a lot of grace. The Bacha Nagma dance originated a lot of years ago and is still very much recognized as a popular form of folk dance.

5. Hafiza Dance

Hafiza Dance - kashmir - kashmir life

Hafiza Dance is a popular Kashmiri dance type, performed during wedding ceremonies. The Hafiza dance form is dominated by a popular instrument called the ‘Santoor’.

There is a dire need for preserving and properly promoting the traditional dance forms which will give the local artists a professional platform to present their talent. Dance is a powerful form of communication that helps people get an insight into the rustic lifestyle, the attires, musical instruments and other practices and parts of customs prevalent in a place.

kashmir tour | Kashmirilife

5 things that should be in your bucket list during Kashmir tour

1.Applaud the beauty of Dal Lake on a Shikara :

shikara kashmir | kashmirilife

Cruising in the calm blue water of Dal Lake is incomplete without a Shikara in kashmir tour. Shikara is basically a traditional wooden houseboat which is an essential part of people in Kashmiri Tradition. To explore the beauty of Dal Lake, a Shikara ride is a must.

While having a Shikara ride in the magnificent Dal Lake, the sight of snow-capped mountains, beautiful gardens, and migrating birds truly look like a paradise. You can’t really have enough of Shikara rides in Dal Lake as there are many beautiful things to explore during you kashmir tour. So, keep exploring till you reach an entirely different island of the vegetable growers and sellers. Yes, Kashmir owns one of the famous floating vegetable market in the world which opens before dawn and closes within the next two hours.

2.Walk The Wildest Trek On The Planet:

chadar trek | Kashmirilife

Do you know that kashmir tour has a Chadar trek is the widest trek in the world? And this trek lies in the Zanskar region of Jammu and Kashmir. Chadar trek is the most difficult trek for even the best of the best trekkers in the world.

What makes Chadar trek more adventurous than other treks is that it happens over the frozen Zanskar River. During winters, Zanskar River freezes to form a sheet (chadar) of ice which is why it is called Chadar trek. The Chadar trek takes place during winters. The months of January and February are considered ideal for the excursion on the frozen Zanskar River. It’s just an apt place for camping as well with the skies full of stars. As you trek by the Chadar, you witness many wildlife species indigenous to Jammu and Kashmir. So if you are bored of trekking on hills, try this trek the frozen Zanskar River.

3.Have an adventure of Lifetime while Heli-Skiing:

Heli-Skiing | kashmirilife

Gulmarg in Kashmir is a hub for winter sports in Kashmir and different types of winter sports take place in winters. With the first snowfall of Kashmir, people start to gather in Gulmarg to enjoy the adventure of kashmir winter sports like skiing, snow-boarding, ice skating, snow kayaking, ice hockey etc. Among the various winter sports, one of the unique is Heli-skiing. In Heli Skiing, skiers are taken to the top of the mountains by a helicopter and then the skiers ski down the hills. Heli-skiing in Kashmir is an ultimate adventure for the good quality snow and the mountain peaks which make the experience one of the best in the world.

4.Taste the delicious Zaika-e-Kashmir:

Zaika-e-Kashmir | kashmir food | kahmirilife

Kashmir is said to be a heaven on Earth for not only its incredible beauty but also for also heavenly tasting food. The land produces some of the best mouthwatering delicacies and that is why you should never miss the opportunity to devour the Kashmiri cuisines. From the famous Kashmiri Wazwan to the winter delicacy Harissa, everything is a treat to taste buds. So, while wandering on the streets never miss to taste the street foods of Kashmir. Here is a list of delicacies you must try whenever you visit Kashmir.

5. Capture the beauty of  Kashmir tour through your lens:

kashmir through lense photography | kashmirilife

Kashmir can never disappoint a lens lover. It is completely up to you whether you want to click selfies or a DSLR picture because Kashmir is heaven-like beautiful. From picturesque natural sceneries to landscapes that can beat the most beautiful places on Earth any day are endless in Kashmir. Be it the architecture of a Kashmiri house, the handicrafts, and the work on Sufi shrines or the Thangka paintings in monasteries in Ladakh everything is jaw dropping.

Kashmiri life | Thangka Paintings of Ladakh

The Famous Thangka Paintings of Ladakh

While wandering in Ladakh, have you ever come across the Thangka paintings in the region? Ladakh, which has numerous names also has a rich art and culture. The lonely planet or the cold dessert comprises of the majority of Buddhist population. The place is mostly crowded with Tibetan Buddhists and monks who are peacefully living their lives in one of the most unexplored places of India. Among the other unique handicrafts of Leh-Ladakh, the famous Thangka paintings are the most antique in nature.

Kashmiri life | Thangka Paintings of Ladakh

Thangka paintings depict the teachings of Lord Buddha:

This beautiful Thangka painting is embroidered on cotton or silk applique that depicts the Buddhists deity in form of a scene or story. Thangka paintings in Ladakh last till a long span of time but need to be kept in dry places so that the moisture doesn’t affect the quality of the silk.

Earlier These paintings in Ladakh were only embroidered but today, these are also painted with colors. Typical thangka paintings are usually small about 20-50 meters high but during festivals in Ladakh, these paintings are giant with much higher painted area.

Kashmiri life | Thangka Paintings of Ladakh

The walls of the monasteries in Ladakh are colored with Thangkas:

There are many historic monasteries in Ladakh which are called Gompas in the local language. The Thangka paintings makes the architecture of these monasteries so beautiful and unique in nature that it attracts tourists from worldwide. The walls, gates, and interior of these old monasteries are colored with beautiful Thangka paintings. Specifically the paintings on the wall are called Devdis paintings.

Thangka painting is mainly done on clothes whereas are Devdis are captured on walls. The Thiksay Monastery located on top of a hill approximately of Leh in Ladakh at an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 ft.) is a twelve-story complex and consist of many fine Thangka paintings.

Kashmiri life | Thangka Paintings of Ladakh

The Thangka paintings exemplify the art and craftsmanship of the Ladakhis living in Jammu and Kashmir. These paintings depicts a true sense of Kashmiri life in a Kashmiri way.

So, whenever you are in Ladakh, don’t forget to buy a native Thangka painting from one of the old and famous Tibetan refugee market situated on Leh road.

 

 

kashmiri life | Kashmir Culture , food

The Traditional Kalari Cheese of Jammu and Kashmir

Just like the incredible beauty of Jammu and Kashmir, the flavors of Kashmiri cuisines are also incredible in taste. Kashmiri cuisines are famous for its unique spices and flavors. Among various varieties of Kashmiri cuisines, there are also some famous snacks which make Kashmiris gather on the streets to have a bite of those delicacies.

kashmiri life | Image

Kalari cheese is one of the favorite snacks of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Kalari is a dense cheese and is also called the mozzarella of Kashmir. Like mozzarella, it melts on heating and hardens on cooling. The flavor and taste of Kalari are just fingers licking well.

kashmiri life | Kashmir Culture , food

Folklore says Kalari is an authentic traditional cheese of the Dogra dynasty of Jammu and Kashmir. Kalari is indigenous to Ramnagar, a town in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir. As shepherds the Gujjar and Bakarwals are highly dependable on Milk, Kalari is popular among the Gujjar and Bakarwal community of Jammu and Kashmir. This cheese is also called “milk chapatti” or “maish krej” in Kashmiri.

kashmiri life | Kashmir Culture , food

Traditionally Kalari is made from Cow’s or Buffalo’s milk but nowadays people also made Kalaris from Goat’s milk, which is whitish in color. Preparation of Kalaris take hard labor and the nomadic women of Jammu and Kashmir have proved to be the best in this task.

Preparation of kalari cheese of Jammu and Kashmir is women power:

Yes, the women play the most important role in Kalari preparation. It is more like a skill that has been passed on among every Gujjar and Bakarwal women folk in Jammu and Kashmir from generation to generation.

Here is how the women of Jammu and Kashmir prepare Kalari:

kashmiri life | Kashmir Culture , food

How to cook Kalaris? It’s an art!

kashmiri life | Kashmir Culture , food

Cooking Kalari is not an easy task at all. Though you can get the raw Kalaris from a store but cooking Kalari is an art in itself. To cook this local delicacy of Jammu and Kashmir you have to master on Kalari. You might also have to take trials before you get the right taste, texture, and color of Kaladi cheese. A well-cooked Kalari is brownish and crispy from outside while creamy and soft from inside. Cooking Kalari might sound easy as it includes frying Kalari in oil and later flavoring it with salt but many fail to cook this local cheese of Kashmir.

Where will you find these yummy cheese?

The production of Kalaris mostly come from some of the remote hills of Jammu but these are available in every milk shop which cost INR 10-15 per piece.

kashmiri life | Kashmir Culture , food

Mostly these yummy cheese are eaten as a snack in Kashmir served with Kulchas (bread). Thus, Kalari Kulcha is one of the favorite dishes which people of Jammu and Kashmir are in love with. The lip-smacking Kalari Kulchas are sold in almost every street of Jammu region at a cost INR 40 or 50. Usually, people like to have these with a cup of tea. There are also Kalari cheeseburgers and sandwiches available at a cost between INR 50-100.In Jammu people also make a curry with it called “Kalari ki sabzi”.

This traditional Kashmiri Life cheese is unique and delicious in taste. Although it is called the “Mozzarella of Kashmir” but has the aroma and flavor to beat mozzarella any day.

 

shikara ride to the floating vegetable market

Floating Vegetable Market-A Must Visit Market in Kashmir’s Dal Lake!

When we think of Srinagar, we think of the magnificent Dal Lake which is an integral part of tourism of Jammu and Kashmir. Located in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, the Dal lake acts as a centre of attraction for the tourists in the valley. Kashmir’s Dal Lake appears like a jewel with crystal clear water and more splendid is the floating vegetable market in Dal which appears like an untouched island. In winters, it freezes to form ice sheets & act as a mirror to the blue skies.

Dal Lake Jammu Kashmir

Dal Lake Jammu and Kashmir

For centuries, Dal Lake has been a place where every aspect of life for Kashmiris, living around the lake, is centred on water. With the first light of the day weaves up many stories in the Dal lake. From Shikara rides to day hikes in a houseboat, every part of the Dal Lake appears to be busy in their own wonderland. Among those beautiful stories are the stories of the sabji walas who depend entirely on this beautiful tranquil lake for their livelihood.

Dal Lake’s floating vegetable market

Dal Lake’s Floating Vegetable Market, Jammu Kashmir

The sabji walas have their own island in the Dal Lake which is known as the world famous floating vegetable market. This floating vegetable market comprises many floating gardens as well local varieties of organic vegetables. It is one of the very famous floating markets in the world.

Floating Gardens, Dal Lake Srinagar

Paddling through Floating Gardens With Lotus Flowers, Dal Lake, Srinagar, Jammu Kashmir

This vegetable market opens at 4’o clock in the morning even before the sun rises and closes within the next two hours. So, not everyone is lucky enough to visit this market due to its operating hours but for the enthusiastic souls, the time just doesn’t matter.

To have a glimpse of this floating market people spend their nights in the houseboats of Dal Lake and the next morning with the first sound of the morning prayers coming from the mosque, they hire a Shikara which row them to the floating market before dawn. It’s not an easy task to hire a Shikara early in the morning. So, tourists often book Shikaras in advance a night before visiting the floating market.

floating vegetable market

The Early Morning Floating Vegetable Market on Dal Lake in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

It takes 1 hour to reach this market and on the way you get to gaze at a lot of beautiful scenes which you might have never seen before. The chirpings of migrating birds, the splendid view of the horizon, and the soothing sounds of Dal Lake produced while rowing the Shikara are just not less than any dreamland.

More pleasant is the view when you actually reach the destination. As many as hundreds of boats adorned with all colors of fresh vegetables, the old Kashmiri women sowing seeds in some of the floating gardens accompanied by their grandchildren, the look of the sabzi walas dressed in their traditional wear, the way they bargain in Kashmiri local language, reflects the true sense of Kashmiriyat. In this wholesale vegetable market, the wealthy shopkeepers buy vegetables from the farmers, which are later sold in the market.

The vegetables are grown in Dal Lake itself on its fertile islands. Amidst this small exchange between one boat to another, some old friends also gather with their respective Shikaras at some point to gossip and smoke hookah. You may also some across some of the oldest and best Kashmiri architecture made of woods. These wooden houses, where the villagers stay, are one of the finest examples of Kashmiri art and culture.

Sabji walas smoking hookah

Sabji Walas Smoking Hookah

This place is a must visit in order to find out how a life goes on for a local Kashmiri and for camera addicts this is one of the beautiful & best places to visit in Srinagar. To capture the view of Dal Lake’s floating market forever in your memories is not an easy task though but definitely worth it.

kashmiri life | Kashmir Culture , food

Asia’s Largest Tulip Fest Starts From 1st April in Jammu and Kashmir!

Many of us might not know that the Asia’s largest Tulip garden is in India. Yes, the largest Tulip garden is situated right near the tranquil Dal Lake of Jammu and Kashmir. Spread over a land of about 12 hectares, this Tulip garden is named after the only female prime minister of India as Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden.

The Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, earlier known as Model Floriculture Centre, was established by Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir as an effort to boost the floriculture industry and eco-tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
Tulip Garden Srinagar

The Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, earlier known as Model Floriculture Centre

Encircled by the two other famous gardens (Nishat Bagh and Chashma Shahi garden) of Jammu and Kashmir, the Tulip garden, opened in 2007, is located at the foothills of Zabarwan range.

The Asia’s largest Tulip garden offers at least 70 varieties of Tulips for tourists to wonder at. It acts as a magnet to attract thousands of tourists from all over the world especially, in the blooming months of the flowers. The best time to visit the garden is from March-May but April welcomes the maximum number of tourists following the Tulip Festival. Yes, the entire state of Jammu celebrates this different type of Holi with the different colors of Tulips every year since 2007.

Tulip Garden Jammu and Kashmir Srinagar

Tulip garden offers at least 70 varieties of Tulips for tourists

The Indira Gandhi Tulip garden which is Asia’s largest Tulip garden does not only grows Tulip but several rose beds are also cultivated, which adds to the beauty of the garden. A Tulip flower is usually 6 cm long and each Tulip consists of three petals and three sepals. The garden cultivates various shades of Tulips and some of the popular shades are orange, yellow, white, red, pink, blue and purple. These different shades of Tulips forms all the colors of a rainbow, which is the most mesmerizing sight for the tourists.

largest Tulip garden

Asia’s largest Tulip garden is in India

The Tulip festival does not only boost floriculture and tourism in Kashmir but the Kashmiri culture too. A number of cultural events take place during the festivity and different types of handicrafts are showcased as an exhibition in the festival. It is much delightful when the tourists get tired and hungry after walking on the route of 12 hectare Tulip garden, they get the privilege to taste the delicious Kashmiri cuisines at the food court.

Asia's largest Tulip garden

 Kashmiri artists perform at the Asia’s largest Tulip garden

Farooq Ahmad Shah, secretary of Tourism and Floriculture of Jammu and Kashmir said, this year the mega Tulip festival will be part of an event Bahaar-e-Kashmir which means spring in Kashmir. The festival will start on April 1 and will continue till another 15 days at the Asia’s largest Tulip garden in Srinagar.

So, don’t miss out the biggest flower festival in Asia right in Jammu and Kashmir. Go, book your tickets to Srinagar in April and enjoy the mesmerising beauty of Kashmir and have lots of entertainment with the folk music of the state.