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The menu at ‘Mealability’ offers everything that Kashmir is famous for

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How to eat rice: Cook it just right, then add the best Kashimir curries and kababs to it

A friend has returned from Kashmir with stories about the alienation of its people. He went there on work, but his trip reminds me of my holidays there. Kashmir was troubled even then, but those were happier times. And a lot of the happiness was enveloped in the food that we ate.

Since Kashmir was on my mind, my ears perked up when I heard that a new restaurant had opened up in the Jammu and Kashmir House on Prithviraj Road. I went looking for the place a few days ago and was directed to the back of the building by the guard in front. I drove up to the back lane (which leads to Rabindra Nagar and Khan Market) and was told by the friendly guard there that I could park on the side of the road (Amrita Shergill Marg), and then walk in. I did just that — and found the restaurant to my left.

The menu at ‘Mealability’ offers everything that Kashmir is famous for

‘Mealability — the Flavor of Kashmir’ is quite a nice looking restaurant, with a pleasant open-air seating arrangement, too. The interiors are fairly plush, with well laid out tables. The restaurant is open from 12 noon to 11 p.m., and the menu includes everything that Kashmir is famous for — Rishta, Gushtaba, Roganjosh, Haak Saag and so on.

I asked for a plate of Seekh Kababs as a starter, and then for Haak and Roganjosh. The two main dishes came with rice -- so there was a small hillock of the cereal on my table. I like Kashmir’s Tabakh Maaz, but opted for the leaner Seekh Kabab. The kabab turned out to be surprisingly good. While it wasn’t the melt-in-the-mouth kind, the meat was juicy, and had the fragrance of spices, especially of cloves.

The beginning was promising. Until then, I had been a bit apprehensive about the food. For one, there was nobody in the restaurant while I was there (of course it was a bit early — I had reached by 12.30 p.m.). And, second, the rates are a bit high. But the Seekh Kababs were encouraging. And, as it turned out, the meal was quite nice.

The menu at ‘Mealability’ offers everything that Kashmir is famous for

The Haak — a special regional greens dish that I am greatly fond of — was superb. It was tender without being mushy, was mildly bland and perfectly complemented the somewhat spicy Roganjosh. There were two large pieces of meat in the lamb meat curry. The meat was soft, and the gravy lightly flavoured with fennel seeds. A thin layer of oil in the gravy added to the taste.

The food had been cooked in mustard oil, which added its own flavour to the dishes. The rice had been well cooked, too (do not scoff — your timing has to be just right for the perfect rice), and went deliciously well with the saag and the meat curry.

We paid about ₹1,700 for this meal. But then this is not a state house canteen with subsidised rates. The Gushtaba, Rishta and Roganjosh, for instance are for ₹599 and the kababs for ₹499.

But the food was very good, cooked in both the Kashmiri Pandit and Kashmiri Muslim style. The Haak, for instance, was prepared in the Pandit way — with a pinch of hing in mustard oil, and topped with green chillies. All in all, it was a nice meal indeed -- and worth a second visit. Kashmir is going to stay with me.

The writer is a seasoned food critic

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 2:02:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/the-menu-at-mealability-offers-everything-that-kashmir-is-famous-for/article30050828.ece

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