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 rib cage (only the membranous part of the ribs, not the chop), unseparated
- 475 gm pure ghee
- 5½ l water
- 2½ l cold water
- 4½ tsp garlic, ground
- 3½ tsp turmeric powder
- 3½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp dry ginger powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 8 cloves
- 8 black cardamoms
- Bring the water to the boil; add the ribs. Continue to boil, removing the scum that rises to the surface. Repeat until the water is clear. Boil covered till the ribs are half done.
- Add the garlic and mix well. Continue to boil for another 10 minutes. Add the salt and boil covered, continuously, until the membrane between the ribs can be pierced with the thumb. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the water. Cool the ribs and then immerse in a pan of cold water. Wash thoroughly, and then keep them aside. Do not discard this water.
- Chop the ribs with a heavy, sharp knife into 8 equal rectangular pieces.
- Boil the water in which the ribs were washed. Add the chopped ribs, salt, dry ginger powder, cloves, black cardamoms and turmeric powder. Mix well. Let it boil until the bones can be extracted from the membrane easily. Remove the pan from the heat and take out the ribs with a slotted spoon. Keep aside. Discard the water.
- Arrange the ribs in a large frying pan, so that they do not overlap. Pour the pure ghee over them. Fry until they are reddish brown all over. Turn occasionally. Drain out the pure ghee before serving.
Excerpted with permission from Wazwaan: Traditional Kashmiri Cuisine, Waza Sharief, Shafi and Rafiq with Rocky Mohan, Roli Books.