The paradise of Jammu and Kashmir indeed is stained by the constant tension Kashmir region. It is a pity that the “Jannat” (heaven) on earth as it was epitomized in poetry, has to be destroyed, tarnished and maimed by the need for power. What we lose in the struggles is the beauty of the culture. These were the thoughts I felt when Shh Cooking Secretly group chose Jammu and Kashmir as the cuisine focus for the month. I debated if I want to participate..coz of these thoughts. Reflecting on these subsequently, in felt it may be a great portal to hold a small chip of the beauty from this “Jannat” in my blog.
Memories that go with the region
The realities of the political tug of war were not really on my focus during my post-graduate days. We had a “Kashmiri Kalli”( literally meaning the rosebud of Kashmir) classmate, Lubna, in our group. It was through her thoughts and conversations I learnt a lot about the people, the culture, the “kangri,” the “wazwan” and more. She indeed was quite a strong-willed person. Staying so far away from home did make her miss the apricots, the walnuts and much more. Though pretty naive in our own way and not really experienced to understand the intricacies of politics we enjoyed a friendship that treasured these memories in my heart.
In the tiny hostel room, we did share recipes for “phirni” and talk about “kahwah” and “noon chai.” It was a lot of new ideas for me at that time. Slowly will developing cooking skills, I did experiment with the phirni, the vegetarian version of yakhni and more. Each time I did it brought forth an immense deal of memories and they made much more sense now.
Blogging partner and secret ingredients
My blogger partner for this episode Poonam Bacchav is another friend, very well known to my family. We began our blogging days together and carving our very own niches in the food world. I love the engaging and challenging discussions we have with respect to our blog setup, upgrade and much more. She blogs at Annapurna, a blog seeped in Indian cuisine and traditions. When she chose yoghurt and cardamom as secret ingredients, I could not be happier. I absolutely wanted just these.
I have chosen a fairly simple recipe of Kashmiri style Dodh Wangun (dahi baingan) to showcase, easy to make and loads of subtle balance between the spices without the heat. Though the cardamon is a faint hint in the recipe it is still significant. The yoghurt, on the other hand, forms the entire base of the gravy carrying the flavours. The yoghurt I have used is based on cow milk and exclusively fermented at home..to get the right texture of zamut dodh. The soft eggplant is roasted rather than deep fried (in the traditional) but works well with grilled one too. The recipe goes beautifully with naan bread, Kalonji pulao or saffron rice.
Hoping and feverishly praying someday the people can breathe easy there, the mountains can stay away from the rolling LOC, and tourists can enjoy the Jannat again here is my treat.
Here are a few more from the cuisines of India
I have submitted this recipe to the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge
Kashmir cuisine eggplant in yogurt gravy
for the roast
- 4-5 eggplant long or round baby eggplants
- 2 tbsp mustard oil
- 2-3 pods cardamom crushed
- 1 tbsp fennel seed powdered
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp dry ginger powder
- salt to taste
- 2 cups low fat yogurt
- 1 cup drinking water
- 1 tsp coriander leaves chopped
- Whisk together the yoghurt and half a cup of water and set aside. Reserve the other half cup water to adjust the consistency
- Wash, pat dry and slice the baby eggplants into wedges.
- Add the eggplant wedges into the mixing bowl with all the spice powders and salt and toss well
- Into a heavy pan add the mustard oil and as it warms add the eggplant to coat with the oil
- Make sure the pan is not over crowded.
- Roast on a slow heat, till the eggplan is well seared.
- Remove the eggplant pieces onto a seperate plate.
- Add the whisked yogurt, water if necessary and bring to a slow simmer.
- When it begins simmering add the eggplant and simmer for a bit longer, about 5 minutes.
- When the eggplant is cooked (cuts easily), remove from heat and add the corainder leaves. Its ready to serve.
You can use vegetable-based cooking oils if you don't prefer the intense smokiness of the mustard oil. You can use any kind of eggplant, just make the cut big so it can hold its shape. You can deep fry the eggplant ( as it is done traditionally)I wanted to avoid the excess oil, hence roasted them.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!