TAMRA at Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel has transformed into a Kashmiri haven. It’s Kashmiri food festival is full of wonderful surprises. Chefs or “wazas” from Kashmir (Chef Mushtaq and Chef Hamied) are responsible for putting together these treats along with Executive Chef Neeraj Tyagi.
Kashmiri food is very rich in colour and may be mistaken to be really spicy, however, it is steeped deep in heavenly aromas and flavours. The robust flavours of Kashmiri cuisine make it extremely special. This cuisine is perfect for wintertime because is it comforting and satiating.
Spices like cardamom, fennel, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and saffron are commonly used in Kashmiri wazwan. In Kashmir, Wazwan is consumed course by course in the Kashmiri Muslim household especially when there is a wedding or a special occassion in th family. The meat of choice is usually lamb and chicken. A lot of people assume that beef is what makes a wazwan but beef is never used. They also never use lentils during family celebrations.
The restaurant served Tabak Maaz (pan-fried lamb ribs cooked with spices and yoghurt or milk), Rogan Josh (spicy lamb curry), Gushtaba (minced mutton balls cooked in curd and spices), Waza Haaq (Kashmiri spinach cooked in mustard oil with mild spices) and many other interesting Kashmiri delicacies.
I loved the Gushtaba the most. The flavours of the curry were phenomenal and the meatballs had absorbed the flavours completely. The meat was cooked beautifully. The Haaq served by Kashmiri pundits or the vegetarian version of the Haaq is pretty amazing and light on the stomach but the Waza Haaq or the Haaq cooked in non-veg stock is a pretty brilliant dish too. This perfectly balanced dish makes for a complete meal in itself when it’s had with just white rice. The aromatic curry and the Haaq go really well together.
Chef Mushtaq and Chef Hamied’s signature dishes such as the Kokur Kanti (chicken prepared with onions, green chilli and tomato puree), Seekh Tujh (soft marinated meat pieces prepared on low charcoal flame, on the table) and the Marchwangan Korma (spicy minced mutton) promises the quintessential Kashmiri indulgence that will delight even the most discerning of palates.
Kashmiri don’t enjoy a lot of desserts but during celebrations, they always have the Kashmiri Zafrani Phirni which is made with rice, milk and saffron. Chef Mushtaq and Chef Hamied’s phirni made it just the way a Kashmiri would like.
I go to Kashmir once a year and we sat with the lovely people at Tamra drinking Kahwa (an aromatic traditional Kashmiri green tea made with cardamom, cinnamon, saffron and almonds) and discussing interesting anecdotes from our visit to the valley.
“Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast. – If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here.”