The Fact News Service
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”
Kashmir is one of the coldest places in India and hence, the cuisine is predominantly non vegetarian. The Kashmiri Wazwan, commonly known as Wazwan is a formal meal that is mostly prepared during formal events like weddings. Consisting of various non-veg dishes made using lamb, sheep or beef, Wazwan has now become a sensation among fast-food joints in the valley and has also gained fame among tourists. Primarily made with sheep, goat and beef, other elements like chicken, vegetables and fish are also now included in the meal. Developed by the Mongol ruler Taimur when he invaded India in 1348 during the reign of Nasruddin Muhammad of the Tughlaq dynasty, Taimur brought a set of skilled cooks who were then known as the Wazas (cooks). These Wazas were experts in cooking various kinds of meat dishes and classifying them according to the techniques used while cooking according to their shapes and their gravies. One of the most important factors involved in cooking the Wazwan meal is that the meat should be freshly cut and then different parts are separated for making different dishes. Like the rib cage was used to prepare a dish called Tabakh Maaz and on the other hand, boneless meat was ground to prepare kebabs. It is important to note that the valley of Kashmir has had two major communities living there known as the Kashmiri Pandits and the Kashmiri Muslims. That is why there is never just one style of cooking for any dish but two. It is said that following religion, the Kashmiri Pandits did not use onions or garlic for their cooking but due to the extreme cold weather, indulging in meat was more of a necessity than a choice. According to both cooking styles, the whole Wazwan meal includes several dishes including 7 main meat dishes
Traditionally the wazwan is prepared in unique nickel-plated copper vessels (locally called Deyghs). It is customarily prepared outdoors, in an open-air kitchen locally known as “vurabal“, over simmering fires of hardwoods obtained from old trees. The preparation is done by a team of “Wazas” under the guidance of head culinary expert known as “Vasta Waza” (head chef). Planning is done by the head chef long before the occasion, he is hired weeks before the ceremony to discuss the quantity and quality of ingredients. Kashmiri Wazwan is rich in spices, herbs, and seasoning blends.
The wazwan dishes are mild in taste but rich in flavor due to utilizing the blend of local spices and herbs such as dry fruits, dry-cockscomb flower, dry-fenugreek leaves, dry ginger powder, fennel seeds, shallots, fresh ginger garlic, tamarind, Kashmiri red chillies, black and green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, turmeric, coriander, sry mint leaves, and clarified butter. Most of the Wazwan dishes are red in color, the red color is obtained from either the cockscomb flower locally known as “Maval” or Kashmiri Red Chillies. Saffron is a key ingredient of Kashmiri wazwan, which is used to enhance the flavor and make it taste more elegant. Known for its thick gravies, the Wazwan is not deeply fried, rather it is slowly cooked over a low flame for hours. It is cooked with a great deal of precision, culinary art, passion, hard work, and enormous love.
Many dishes are prepared in Wazwan, from which seven ethnic meat-based dishes are the most essential, these are the basic dishes of every celebration.
(story sourced through inputs from agencies)