The traditional Wazwan takes the Kashmiri cuisine to a very different level of hospitality and it is an inseparable part of the Kashmiri Cuisine. The culture evolved in the valley centuries ago and till date it has maintained a distinct characteristic of an entity of its own. Presented here are some rare facts for the food lovers from all across the world who want to give this signature dish of Kashmir a try.
What is Wajwan?
It is a majestic multi-course meal in the Kashmiri tradition. This splendid banquet in Kashmir is treated with a great esteem and reverence. The preparation of this meal is considered to be an art and it is regarded as a dignified aspect of the Kashmiri cuisine. Incredible though it may sound but this ostentatious display of Kashmiri cuisine contains 36 traditional courses in its huge display. You can imagine the efforts and amount of time put on for the preparation of this grand banquet but the end result is worth the effort.
How it is Prepared?
Waz means chef and wan means shop selling the delicacies. Preparation of this dish is traditionally done by a head chef known as Vasta Waza. In assistance with the other chefs called wazas he prepares the banquet meal in an open air known as vurabal. The history of Kashmir’s traditional cuisine is not new. It has refined over a period of time and Wazwan dates back to the 14th century onwards, when the Mongol ruler Timur invaded India in 1348 during the historic period of Nasiruddin Muhammad, a ruler belonging to the Tughlaq dynasty.
As Wazwan is a banquet meal, it is prepared mostly on the important occasions especially in the marriages. But, since the meal is so elaborate that its wastage was a huge concern. However, the dominance of this huge meal in the Kashmiri culture has overshadowed this aspect. The animals are slaughtered as per the Muslim custom and then butchered expertly to the spot. According to waz, the animals which to be slaughtered has 72 parts and most of these are cooked all the organs like liver, kidney and heart are cooked and served in lunch.
The Culture Attached to This Meal
Basically, two tents are set up during the banquet meal preparation, one as the kitchen and other is used as the dinning pavilion. Earnest young men used to cut it into cubes, mince it and pound it repeatedly into a smooth paste. All of these are done with the mallets and cleavers over several hours. Once the cooking is done, long white silk sheets called dastarkhans are spread out on the carpeted floor of the dining area. Guests used to come in and take their respective places. Males and females sit in separate rows and jugs of water are given so that they can wash their hands.
A large serving dish known as tarmi is piled high with gobs of rice and it is decorated & adorned with ‘seekh kebabas, four pieces of ‘methi korma’ and 2 pieces of tabak maaz, barbecued ribs, one safed murg, one zafrani murg along with other dishes. When one trami is finished, it is replaced with a new one brought in, until the dinner goes on. Along with this, yogurt is served in large clay bowls and sweet pumpkin chutney in saucers.
Important Components of the Meal
Rista (lamb mutton prepared in spices), Roghan Josh (lamb chunks cooked in gravy of yogurt and onions), Tabak Maaz (Mutton koftas), Dhaniwal Korma (lamb mutton korma), Aab Gosht (mutton curry) , Marchwangan Korma (Kashmiri mutton chilli korma) and Gushtaba. The meal ends with Gushtaba (minced mutton balls). After the main course of the meal, main desserts are served in turpiyali (copper utensils).
In this special Kashmiri meal, vegetarian dishes are not preferred and only one or two dishes find a place in the lavish banquet. This special Kashmiri meal is a must try for every gastronome not only for its taste but also for the culture attached to it.