Kashmir's culture, traditions and arts have been greatly influenced
by history. So has its food. Persian, Afghan and Central Asian touches
are reminiscent in Kashmiri cuisine, its style of serving and eating.
Kashmir, of course, has absorbed the best out of each influence
and elevated it to its present very lavish, and at the same time,
The concept of 'Wazwan' is unique. The term 'Waz' means the Chef
- person with the rare culinary skills passed on through generations
from father to son. An artist who is obsessively and passionately
involved with his art and who is one of the privileged few flag
bearers of this great Kashmiri tradition. "Wan" is the
shop with its abundant supplies of meats and delicacies.
The traditional 'Wazwan' consists of 36 courses. Each dish has its
own tradition and brings to mind, memories of momentous events,
of special occasions, it is very seldom that all 36 courses are
laid out, but eating 20 odd courses on a regular basis is quite
common in most Kashmiri homes.
In Kashmir, it is said that the host should lay out all the food
that he has at home before his guest. The guest, on his part, must
reciprocate this gesture by doing full justice to the meal. Our
'Vasta Waza' (the head chef) is assisted by a court of Wazas - title
conferred grudgingly on a chosen few after years of apprenticeship.
The process of cooking is extremely long and elaborate. The end
result of their efforts is for you to judge. Your smiles of appreciation
are reward and reason enough for them to keep alive this great tradition.
The meal is a ritual in itself. "Tash-t-Nari" is passed
around by the attendants so that you can wash your hands. It would
be sacrilege to use anything but your fingers to eat this meal.
People sit in fours (considered auspicious) to share sustenance
with dear ones over a 'Tarami' (large plate). The tarami arrives
heaped with rice and the first few courses. Each successive course
follows separately to allow you to savour the distinct flavour.
The last and probably the best known dish of the Wazwan is the 'Goshtaba'.
Refusing this delicacy would hurt the feelings of the Wazas even
though you may already have reached the limits of your appetite.
At the end 'Kahwah' is served from the Samovar, the aroma of which
leaves you with lingering memories of 'Wazwan'.
Dinner: INR 495; USD 11 per head