New Delhi| The headliner here is not politics of Kashmir. It is the food from the land also known for its lovely wazwan -- a spread of various, mostly spicy, non-vegetarian dishes that can make you forget everything else.
Although the spread at the Kashmir Food Festival being hosted at The Shangri-La's - Eros Hotel, here is less than one finds at the elaborate wedding receptions in Kashmir, but it is definitely worth a try.
The authentic stir fried lamb ribs - Tabakh Maaz - makes you feel heavenly. Among the other starters, was the Kashmiri seekh kabab served with the traditional onion chutney.
Inside one of Shangri-La's oldest restaraunts, Tamra, one could smell and feel Kashmir as the strong aroma of spices are displayed on the buffet's counters.
Dried turnips, Saffron, dried red chilly, dry cockscomb flower and shallots are the ingredients that Chef Neeraj Taygi, along with his team of local Kashmiri chefs, use to prepare the wazwaan.
Mushtaq Ahmad, the head Kashmiri chef also known as "waza", feels that only those spices brought from his homeland could be used to prepare a perfect recipe.
"I have bought all those spices, including turmeric, from Kashmir. We have our own taste and we cannot take the risk of mingling up with ingredients in case of wazwan unlike other cuisines," told Mushtaq.
Many restaruants in Delhi serve the most famous Roganjosh, mutton cooked in a deep red gravy but not all matche the one served.
Not only the food, the entire setup -- including the decoration of Kashmiri copper utensils, carpets and music -- gives a feel of the heaven itself.
One cannot miss the white tender meat balls, called goshtaba, cooked in a thick yogurt gravy (yakhni). "It is everybody's favourite. We have been serving this a lot in the last few days," one of the chefs said.
What brought wazwan to Shangri-La's?
Head Chef Neeraj said: "This festival is hosted in order to relish the taste of the most loved cuisines". "What makes Kashmiri food special is the preparation. The way every cook puts in the effort, how can the dish not be so tasty and wonderful," he asked while speaking.
Ofcourse wazwan does not please vegetarians a lot, but it does not disappoint as well. Tamatar chamen or cottage cheese with tomato puree made by a waza is the best paneer, any vegetarian would ever have.
Apart from the famous dum aloo and haakh, the chutneys, including walnut chutney, will leave you licking your fingers dry. Although the one served here is not as thick as the authentic one is, but nevertheless, I loved it. Before leaving the place, do not miss the hot Kashmiri kehwa served in copper samavar.
Also, the waza special dryfruit-rich milk-based firni. The festival is on till February 12 from 12.30 p.m. till 3.30 p.m.
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