Kashmiri cuisine fit for a king

The newest entrant in the chic Haus Khaz Village complex, Tarami brings with it an old world charm that transports one to the verdant valley of Kashmir. The vision of entrepreneurial duo Joy Singh and Rahul Kundan, Tarami is an exquisite tribute to the delicate blend of flavours and spices that make Kashmir cuisine famous cross the globe.

Just as Amir Khusrau famously said “Gar firdaus bar rue zameen ast/hameen asto, hameen asto, hameen ast (If ever there is Paradise on Earth/It is here! It is here! It is here!)”, we can safely call the rich cuisine originating from this land a taste of paradise.

The Kashmiri chefs/wazas lay out a wazwan in a traditional tarami. The concept of eating in a traditional tarami reflects togetherness and unity, as two to four people eat together in a single tarami. A big tarami full of steamed rice is put in the centre. It is topped by various starters like the Tabak Maaz, Kashmiri seekh kabab, Tuji chicken, Kanti chicken and many more along with the accompanying main course delicacies like Gushtaba and Rista, served in separate bowls.

I start with the in-house special Khumb ki Galouti — mushroom shammi kababs served on a lifafa parantha — and find it so tender and tasty that I forget about trying out the mutton shammi kababs.

The Tabak Maaz, a dish of lamb ribs and a personal favourite amongst starters of any cuisine, is crisp and juicy, shallow fried to perfection in clarified butter. Tuji chicken — chunks of chicken barbequed well — remind one of the street snack of Kashmir.

In comes the waza to pour a serving of mutton rogan josh on my portion of rice with a suggestion to eat it the traditional way using the fingers. I oblige. How else to do justice to a finger-licking preparation! Rista, the emperor of the wazwan kitchen, is cooked in saffron gravy and garnished with black cumin. Nizami Korma based in a cashew and saffron gravy is delicious too, but the grand finale of the wazwan is the gushtaba — round dumplings of pounded lamb cooked in yoghurt gravy and tempered with dry mint, which goes fabulously with the rice.

Question: What dessert could possibly match this regal spread? Answer: Cold saffron coloured phirni topped with grated almonds and silver warq. It is yummy and refreshing.

I end my royal culinary journey traditionally, enjoying kehwa sip by sip, flavoured with almonds.

A meal for two at Tarami would cost approximately Rs. 2000

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