The scenic beauty of Kashmir is only rivalled by its cuisine, which offers an infinite and sumptuous variety of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies – perhaps nowhere else in India can one find food as unique and elaborate, which pampers the taste buds of the most fastidious of gourmets. It is born of the marriage of the rich, cultural heritage of the land and diverse influences – Hindu, Buddhist, Afghan, Mughal, Sikh and British. Kashmiri cuisine is of two distinct types – wazwaan is the food of the Muslims, and the Pandits have their traditional butta. They share a love for lamb; wood fire to cook their mouth-watering delicacies, of which many are common to both. What is very evident is that both have been greatly influenced by the Mughlai style of cooking.


  • 1 kg hind leg of lamb, cut into pieces
  • 190 gm pure ghee
  • 150 gm tamarind, boiled in 2 cups water for 10 minutes, strained
  • 2½ l water
  • 3 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder, dissolved in ½ cup water
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 8 green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks, 2 inch each
  • 1 cup dried plums
  • Salt to taste

For Garlic Water

  • 1½ tbsp garlic
  • ¼ cup water


  1. Boil the water in a deep pan; add the meat and bring the water to the boil again. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the water. Wash the meat in cold water and keep aside.
  2. Mince 1½ tbsp garlic and mix it with ¼ cup water. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Rub the mixture with your hands, through a fine muslin cloth, and collect the extract. This gives you the garlic water.
  3. Put the meat in a pan and add the pure ghee, green cardamoms, cloves, salt, 50 ml of garlic water, red chilli water and cinnamon sticks. Cook, stirring continuously, until the ghee separates from the masala.
  4. Add just enough water so that when the meat is tender very little water remains. Cook covered until the meat is done. Add the tamarind extract, turmeric powder and dried plums. Mix well, and simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the plums are soft.

Excerpted with permission from Wazwaan: Traditional Kashmiri Cuisine, Waza Sharief, Shafi and Rafiq with Rocky Mohan, Roli Books.