Wazwan is a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine, usually served in a Trammi or traem. Mostly served during weddings, the very name is enough to bring aroma of your home town when you are outside the valley. Just say the word “Wazwan” in any Kashmiri home and there is not a single person who would not say “Aab ounthe mei, bathe taraem wathiha” (You made my mouth water wish someone could send me a Taraem).
The history of Kashmir’s traditional cuisine, Wazwan, dates back to the last years of the 14th century when the Mongol ruler Timur invaded India in 1348 during the reign of Nasiruddin Muhammad of the Tughlaq dynasty. As a result, there took place a migration of trained weavers, woodcarvers, architects, calligraphers and cooks from Samarkand to the Kashmir valley. The descendants of these cooks came to be known as “Wazas”, who are the master chefs of Kashmir. Throughout the history like its culture, Kashmir cuisine has stood high and unrivaled by any other state in India. Kashmir cuisine is quite famous for the gracious use of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, saffron, etc. Spices used in Kashmiri cuisines give special taste and aroma to the food. However, Kashmiri rice forms an important part of the traditional food of Kashmir, striking a balance with the spicy Kashmiri dishes. Non-veg, consisting of mutton, chicken, fish, etc forms an important part of Kashmiri cuisine. The routine cooking in Kashmir is a combination of non-veg and vegetables in the same dish. In fact, Kashmir is famous for its hospitality. A gourmet’s delight, Wazwan is the ultimate name in Kashmir banquet. This royal cuisine of Kashmir has been influenced by Iranian, Afghan and Central Asian styles of cooking, despite which it has been able to create an identity of its own. Non-vegetarian dishes consist of an important part of not only the diet of a Kashmiri, rather a banquet (wazwan) also. Considered a sign of extravagant hospitality, non-vegetarian dishes dominate in an official feast (wazwan). A typical wazwan meal consists of not more than one or two vegetarian dishes. Kashmir cuisine does not pay much attention to sweets. Instead, an important part of the meal is Kahva or green tea, used to wash down a meal.Traditionally, food in Kashmir was eaten by hands, without any spoons, forks or knives.What makes the Kashmir Cuisine special is the detailed preparation and traditional presentation of sumptuous meals, which comprises 36 courses. All this makes ‘wazwaan’ a spectacular and royal repast. Seven dishes typically form an inseparable part of the feast – ‘tabakh maaz, rogan josh, rista, aab gosh, dhaniwal korma, marchwagan korma and ghustaba. Firin and kahwah (green tea)’ conjure delicacies that are rich in taste and texture with mouth-watering aromas.
Streams and lakes have influenced the Kashmiri cuisine. Fresh fish is a favorite. Myriad meat dishes are served during the traditional feasts. Lamb and poultry are served as accompaniments. Smoked meat, dried fish and vegetables are stored for use in winter. A special masala ‘cake’ is made from spice-blends, onions and locally grown chilies that can be stored for longer period of time and used in flavoring curries. Sauces are made from dairy rich products. Kashmiri fare is also influenced by the mughal cooking. The fruits and nuts grown from the valley are used lavishly in daily menus.