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Famous food of Jammu and Kashmir

Discussion in 'Jammu & Kashmir' started by Bedi365, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. Bedi365

    Bedi365 New Member

    I am going Vaishno Devi in the Jammu & Kashmir and Apart from going to the actual shrine I think our family would go out sightseeing and seeing the greenery there.

    Everyone being fond of food in our family, it would be good to know what the famous food of Jammu and Kashmir is?

    It would also be good to know if there are any popular or famous places to eat the famous dishes or any other things in Jammu and Kashmir.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!



    An essential to any traveller's itinerary is a taste of the local cuisine because it gives one a complete experience of the local culture and heritage. As diverse as its landscapes is the cuisine of Jammu and Kashmir, which can be divided into two categories, namely: the Jammu cuisine and the Kashmiri cuisine. Basically, the Jammu cuisine is largely vegetarian and influenced by the Dogra dynasty, which ruled the region until the late 18th century. On the other hand, the Kashmiri cuisine can be subdivided into two distinct types, namely: the Waza cuisine and the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine. The Wazas are cooks from the Kashmir region who specialise in the multi-course meal called Wazwan. And finally, the Kashmiri Pandits are Hindu Brahmins that originated from the region of Kashmir. Below, we would highlight the most famous dishes of each region and cuisine style.

    Famous Food of Jammu and Kashmir

    Jammu Cuisine

    For convenience, we would highlight the most famous food of each region. So first, we have Jammu, famed for its Jammu cuisine. What sets this cuisine apart from the other cuisines is the large variety of vegetarian dishes that it has. This is because vegetables are easy to grow on the areas around Jammu, unlike with the higher regions of Kashmir. Plus, rice is a staple as well, since most dishes require rice, since it compliments the taste and flavour of the meals.

    Famous Food of Jammu Cuisine + Where to Try Them

    1. Rajma Chawal - Rajma Chawal is a dish made from rajma, which are red kidney beans grown in many areas around the world. However, the best-tasting red kidney beans are believed to come from Jammu. Perhaps the climate of the region has something to do with this, because the red kidney beans here are quite sweet-tasting as compared to the other varieties grown in different regions. As such, the Rajma Chawal is a favourite and staple dish amongst the locals of Jammu. The rajma beans are soaked overnight before being cooked on a pressure cooker. Thereafter, it is combined with a tasty gravy before being served with rice. You can find Rajma Chawal in many local dhabas and eateries in Jammu. For the best-tasting one though, try out the street food stall in Purani Mandi, just opposite to the temple in the area. Another place to try this dish is in Zamindara Dhaba, a highway dhaba located on the outskirts of Jammu, just before you enter the town proper. Both serves traditional Rajma Chawal, with the authentic savoury sweet taste of the red kidney beans.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Purani Mandi (Near Temple) and Zamindara Dhaba
    2. Morel Yakhani - Ask around for morel or kanaguchhi in Delhi and chances are you might be looking around the whole day and still won't be able to find it. This rare mushroom only grows in the colder regions of Jammu and prices for it are on the higher side. Because of the high nutrient and medicinal content of the mushrooms, they are regarded as special and served only on important events. They can be cooked via different ways but the Morel Yakhani is considered as one of the best dishes for this rare mushroom variety. The mushrooms are simmered on a yogurt curd, which gives it a tangy but savoury flavour. It's hard to find restaurants that serve this dish though because morels are extremely expensive. There's only one restaurant here that serves morel, the Falak Revolving Restaurant in KC Residency Hotel. However, they serve morels with a twist, through their Morel Mushroom Curry.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Falak Revolving Restaurant
    Morel Yakhani.jpg
    Morel Yakhani (Image from Madh Mama)

    3. Rajma Ka Madhra - Rajma Ka Madhra utilises the same red kidney beans as above. Much like the former rajma dish, the beans are soaked overnight for about 6 to 8 hours. The dish also has a gravy but it utilises yogurt which makes it a bit more creamy. The yogurt is cooked slowly with rice flour and spiced with some powders to give it flavour. The mixture of the rajma and yogurt-based gravy is quite tasty. The dish is then served with either rice or a bread. You can try out this dish in some dhabas or even in some hotels. Hotel Surya Excellency is one of the best restaurants to try out Rajma Ka Madhra.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Hotel Surya Excellency
    4. Khatta Meat - Next is Khatta Meat, a mutton curry dish which has its root from the Dogra dynasty as well. If you're thinking whether you'd have non-vegetarian options when in Jammu, well, don't worry because there are some meat-based dishes as well. Kattha Meat is basically just mutton on either an amchur-based gravy or anardana-based gravy. Amchur is a dry mango powder while anardana is sour pomegranate seeds. Both of them gives the mutton its tangy taste and combined with the spices, the dish also has a spicy flavour to it. You can find many dhabas serving this dish but Paras Ram Dhaba in Gandhinagar serves it in the best traditional way. For higher end restaurants, try out Moti Mahal Restaurant and Fortune Inn Riviera Restaurant.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Paras Ram Dhaba, Moti Mahal Restaurant and Fortune Inn Riviera Restaurant
    5. Kachaloo Chaat - Kachaloo Chaat is a favourite snack of the locals of Jammu. It is made from kachaloo, also known as taro root, and various spices like red chilli flakes, tamarind, black-eyed beans and lemon. Sometimes, potatoes are also added into the dish, thereby being called the Aloo Kachaloo Chaat. It is a very tasty and filling snack available in almost every street food area in Jammu. The best food stall selling this delectable dish is the one near the Pacca Danga, known as the Girdhari Ke Kachaloo. This is the oldest street food stall serving Kachaloo Chaat in the region. It started out as a small food stall and has now become a full blown shop selling various snacks other than Kachaloo Chaat.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Girdhari Ke Kachaloo
    6. Auria - Another succulent dish from the Dogra dynasty is Auria, a mustard-based potato curry. Boiled potatoes are mixed in a curd fermented with rye or mustard powder. The addition of red chilli powder adds that kick of spiciness to the dish. Auria is served as a side dish though it can also be eaten on its own. Unfortunately, it's hard to find restaurants serving this dish though it is fairly simple to make. You can try staying in a local guest house and ask if they can make the dish for you though.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Local Guest House
    7. Kalari Kulcha - This delicious snack also has its roots from the Dogra dynasty. Although seemingly simple, as it's just kalari, goat's cheese, in the middle of two buns, kulcha, the taste is quite delectable. Kalari, also known as kaladi, is Udhampur's very own mozzarella cheese. The cheese is made from full fat milk, churned in a pot, before being mixed with curd. It is then flattened before being left to dry on its own. Despite the drying procedure, the inside of the cheese remains moist, giving it its distinctive taste. On many food stalls around Jammu and Udhampur, you can see the cooking process. The cheese is grilled on a pan on its own oil before being served on a kulcha. Sometimes, it is served with a siding of chutney as well. Some of the best places to try this dish is at Pahalwan Di Hatti in Gole Market and Moti Bazaar, both are in Jammu. You can also try the Singh Cafeteria in Udhampur, the place where it is believed that this dish originated from.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Pahalwan Di Hatti, Moti Bazaar and Singh Cafeteria
    8. Paneer Pakora - Paneer is simply cottage cheese which on its own is quite tasty. When paneer is fried in a batter of gram flour, masala powder and other spices, it gives it even more flavour. This dish is called Paneer Pakora, a popular snack in the Jammu region. The crispness of the pakora and the softness of the paneer provides a contrasting taste that is heaven on the mouth. Sometimes, pakoras are stuffed with other stuffings like potatoes, cabbages and cauliflowers. The best places to try out Paneer Pakora are usually street food stalls. One of which is on the Nandini Tunnel, en route to Katra from Jammu. Other places to try different variants of pakoras are Prem Vaishno Dhaba and Sharma Vaishno Dhaba. Their version of pakora is served with a gravy, sometimes called Kadhi Pakora.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Nandini Tunnel, Prem Vaishno Dhaba and Sharma Vaishno Dhaba
    Paneer Pakore in Nandini Tunnel Dhaba.jpg
    Paneer Pakore in Nandini Tunnel Dhaba (Image from Life 'N Passion)

    9. Patisa - This melt in your mouth sweet dish would surely delight the little ones! Gram flour and maida flour are mixed together and then roasted in ghee. Sugar, water and milk are then mixed together for the syrup before being mixed with the flour mixture and then put into a square pan. The sweet dish doesn't even require any baking so can be made easily at home. The resulting mildly sweet, flaky texture is sure to win you over. The best place to try this delicacy is in Prem Sweets Kud Restaurant, located in Patnitop.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Prem Sweets Kud Restaurant
    10. Kalakand - Last on this section is Kalakand, another sweet dish of Jammu. It is made from condensed milk, paneer and sugar. Sometimes, cardamom, pistachios, saffron and almonds are added as well. The first three ingredients are mixed together in low flame until it thickens. After solidifying a bit, the other ingredients are added to flavour the dish even more. After being cooled, it is then served as a sweet, snack or dessert. Prem Sweets Kud Restaurant also serves this very satisfying sweet dish.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Prem Sweets Kud Restaurant
    Kashmiri Cuisine

    On the other hand, as mentioned above, Kashmiri cuisine can be divided into two subcategories, Waza cuisine and Kashmiri Pandit cuisine. Of these two cuisines, the former is more popular and more widely available in the region. Waza cuisine is mainly about the Wazwan, a 36-course meal comprised mainly of meat dishes. The Kashmiri Pandit cuisine has a mixture of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, and can be contrasted to the former by its lighter use of flavours.

    Famous Food of Waza Cuisine + Where to Try Them

    1. Seekh Kebab - One of the starter dishes of the Wazwan is the Seekh Kebab. It is a very simple dish but has that kick of flavour to it. To make the flavours stand out even more, it requires vigorous preparation. Finely minced meat of lamb is mixed with red chilli powder and salt before being left in the fridge. It is then blended with spices such as cardamom, coriander, cumin seeds and many more before being grilled over charcoal. Sometimes, other places fry the kebab in ghee. It also served with a chutney as a side. You would that most restaurants in Kashmir serve this dish but you can try out Mughal Darbar in Srinagar and Nedous Dining Room in Gulmarg.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Mughal Darbar and Nedous Dining Room
    2. Tabakh Maaz - Tabakh Maaz is simply fried lamb ribs, but preparing it is very vigorous as well. This is perhaps the main feature of most dishes of the Waza cuisine. The lamb ribs is boiled along with other spices like cardamom, cumin seeds, bay leaf, ginger powder and fennel seeds. To make the meat very soft, it is slow-cooked on low to medium heat. After then, it is fried on ghee until it's a golden brown. Served on its own or with rice, the lamb meat has varying savoury flavours that make it a favourite among Kashmiri locals. Most restaurants in the region serve this dish but you can try out Ahdoos or Sunset Boulevard Restaurant, both are in Srinagar.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Ahdoos or Sunset Boulevard Restaurant
    3. Methi Maaz - Another component of the Wazwan is the Methi Maaz, a dish made of the intestines of a lamb, sometimes even the stomach is used. Some restaurants substitute by using chopped mutton meat instead. The intestines and stomach are chopped then boiled, the stock is then set aside for the gravy. This stock is then mixed with cardamom, fennel powder, turmeric and other spices then boiled again. Then, the meat is fried in ghee before being added into the mixture, along with the boiled fenugreek. Sometimes, milk is added into the dish to give it a creamy taste. The Hotel Grand and Restaurant in Srinagar serves this dish, along with other Waza dishes.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Hotel Grand and Restaurant
    Methi Maaz.jpg
    Methi Maaz (Image from Sweet Escape)

    4. Rogan Josh - You can't mention Waza cuisine without its signature dish, the Rogan Josh. Traditionally, Rogan Josh is simply braised lamb cooked in various spices like garlic, onions, cardamoms, cinnamon, fennel seeds, red chilli powder and cumin. Another distinct feature of the dish is that it is just mildly spicy so even those not used to spiced dishes can enjoy it. The secret to a great tasting Rogan Josh is slow cooking the meat until it is so tender that the mutton seems to be falling off the bone already. When eaten with bland rice, the flavours of the Rogan Josh come out even more. Both Shamyana Restaurant and Ahdoos in Srinagar serve this heavy but satisfying dish.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Shamyana Restaurant and Ahdoos
    5. Kashmiri Pulao - At the end of this section is Kashmiri Pulao, an incredibly tasty rice dish with a mild sweet taste due to its fruit ingredients. It contrasts the heavy meat dishes of the Waza cuisine. It is also very simple to prepare, again quite in contrast to the tedious cooking procedures of the previous dishes. Basmati rice is cleansed before being added into a sautéed mixture of ghee, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf, milk and sugar. This mixture is then boiled until the rice cooks. Sautéed raisins and nuts are added, as well as fruits like pineapple and apple. Sometimes, even carrots, peas and beans are added as well. This rice dish goes well with the previous meat dishes too. Lhasa Restaurant and Batra Hotels and Residences Restaurant, both in Srinagar, serve this dish.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Lhasa Restaurant and Batra Hotels and Residences Restaurant
    Famous Food of Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine + Where to Try Them

    6. Palak Nadir - A heavenly vegetarian dish popularised by the Kashmiri Pandits, Palak Nadir tops every foodie's list when it comes to the must try dishes of this cuisine. Palak is simply spinach, while nadir is simply lotus stem. First, the lotus stem is sliced and fried, then set aside. A mixture of cumin seeds, asafoetida, red chilli powder and turmeric are then simmered with the blanched spinach. The palak would then be added after a few minutes and boiled for another few minutes before serving. This is served with hot rice or sometimes bread. Some of the best restaurants serving this dish in Kashmir are Mughal Darbar and Hotel Highlands Peak Restaurant.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Mughal Darbar and Hotel Highlands Peak Restaurant
    7. Haakh - For the locals residing in the higher regions of Kashmir, sipping a hot cup of soup can be very invigorating. Haakh is thus a necessary dish in the cuisine. This simple dish, made from spinach, cold-pressed mustard oil, salt, red chillies, green chillies and the signature, asafoetida, is sure to warm one's senses. It can be relished on its own, or sometimes, with white rice. Mughal Darbar in Srinagar serves an authentic version of this dish, but so does the Nedou's Hotel Restaurant in Gulmarg.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Mughal Darbar and Nedou's Hotel Restaurant
    8. Dum Aloo - Dum Aloo is a known dish around India but the Kashmiri Pandit version has some difference. For starters, it doesn't use of any onions or garlics. Baby potatoes are usually used, they are boiled before being pricked then fried in mustard oil. Cinnamon, dry ginger powder, fennel seeds and cumin are then sautéed before adding in a mixture of yogurt and red chilli powder gravy. The baby potatoes are then added into the mixture and simmered for a short while. This flavourful dish has a varying taste of spiciness, tanginess and saltiness, which all in all, makes it another good dish of the Kashmiri Pandits. Many restaurants around Kashmir serve this dish. But for the most authentic flavour, try out Dani Pani in Pahalgam or even Downhill Restaurant, found en route to Gulmarg from Srinagar.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Dani Pani and Downhill Restaurant
    Dum Aloo.jpg
    Dum Aloo (Image from The Novice Chef)

    9. Naine Rogan Josh - This is the Kashmiri Pandit version of the Rogan Josh of the Waza cuisine. Of course, the dish can be distinguished from the Waza version by its nil use of onions and garlic. Instead, the Kashmiri Pandit version relies on ginger, asafoetida and red chillies to give the mutton its delectable flavour. The meat of the mutton is super soft too, achieved by very slow cooking. Whole yogurt is also added to give the dish a creamy kick. The result is a less thick but savoury mutton dish that everyone, Kashmiri Pandit or not, enjoys. It's usually the conventional Rogan Josh that is served in restaurants, not the Kashmiri Pandit version. It's best to try out local guest houses who are descendants of the Kashmiri Pandits to have the authentic Naine Rogan Josh from.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - Local Guest House
    10. Shufta - We can't end this list without at least one sweet dish and so Shufta it is! A mixture of dried fruits and nuts with coated in sugar syrup, that's it. A very simple sweet dish that actually warms the body due to its heating properties, this is yet another important part of the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine. The fruits are first soaked in water before being fried in ghee, along with the other nuts and of course, the sugar. It is served whilst hot to provide some warmth to the body during winters. You can try out this sweet dish in RK Sarovar Portico in Srinagar.
    • Best Places to Try This Dish - RK Sarovar Portico

    To complete each traveller's journey to a destination, he or she must try out the local culinary delights. It doesn't have to be on a high end restaurant, sometimes, even simply being adventurous and trying out street food stalls is enough. Because it is not only the sights around a destination that give it its personality, the food of the locals are sometimes as exquisite as the attractions. The same goes for Jammu and Kashmir, one of the most beautiful states in India. It's almost a sin not to try out the unique cuisine of the region when visiting it.