Kashmiri Kahwa/ Kashmiri Tea
EVENT: SHHH COOKING SECRETLY
THEME: JAMMU AND KASHMIR CUISINE
The first time I ever tasted anything Kashmiri was when my sister in law got married to a Kashmiri Brahmin. It was during one of our visits to India that her mother in law insisted that we enjoy a full Kashmiri meal, all vegetarian and without any onion or garlic. My first introduction to this totally different cuisine was an eye opener for me. Simple, healthy and flavorful.
Whenever anyone mentions Kashmiri cuisine the first thing that comes to mind is dum aloo in a thick creamy gravy. While quite a few dishes are made in thick creamy gravy, or Wazwan style, there is another whole style of cooking that was traditionally followed by the Kashmiri Pandits or Brahmins. Though Brahmins, they are the very few Brahmins in India who also include meat in their diet. Most of their gravy be it for vegetable or meat is not thick but slightly on the watery side. Traditionally they used yogurt, milk or water as gravy base. Tomatoes were hardly ever used. They tried to include nature’s bounty in their simple and yet flavorful cooking using lotus, turnip, paneer, kidney beans, local spinach and other greens. These dishes are usually flavored by adding fennel powder, dry ginger powder, asafetida, and green chilis. Simplicity in a flavorful style is what I would describe this cuisine as. What amazed me back then was that all of the dishes were eaten with rice only and there was no farsan like a typical Gujarati jaman or meal has. If any roti or flatbread is consumed, its usually for breakfast with tea.
While my sister in law and family still make this traditional dishes, its fast getting lost to the modern fast food. When I first tasted the Kashmiri Pandit or Brahmin cuisine, I didn’t like the stringy taste of the lotus stem but I love the fried lotus stem. It was the first time I had tasted turnip where both the root and leaves are made into a flavorful soup like sabji. That’s my favorite. To save my life, I just cannot remember the Kashmiri names of these dishes. Dum aloo was so different, fried in mustard oil till the outer part is crispy and the inner part soft with just a mixture of spices and oil. Rajma made into a thick creamy consistency without using cream, onion or garlic and with very little amount tomato. There are so many other easy yet tasty Kashmiri dishes which still need to be made more popular.
My partner for this cuisine was Sujata who blogs at Batter Up with Sujata. She initially suggested fennel seeds and cardamom as my secret ingredients. I had wanted to make chaman kaliya a rich flavorful paneer dish using milk and flavored with saffron, cardamom, fennel and other spices. I’ve tasted this dish at a Kashmiri wedding and also whenever my sister in law makes it. However, because of water issues and hubby’s uncles in the hospital, I just didn’t get round to making it earlier. When I actually got the time to make it, I didn’t want to buy more ingredients as I was in the process of closing down the kitchen for a month. I had to request Sujata to change one ingredient, replace the fennel with cinnamon so I could still participate in this challenge. I didn’t want to let her down.
I use both cardamom and cinnamon to make a simple and yet very flavorful Kashmiri Kahwa or tea. I always get my supply of the special Kashmiri tea leaves from my sister in law. I remember her mother in law insisting that I should have it when I once was down with a bad flu. It was the most comforting drink I’d had. During my daughter’s wedding the caterer made sure there was an endless supply of Kashmiri Kahwa to ward off the cold winter nights of Bangalore.
What is Kashmiri Kahwa? Its an exotic hot drink which has some Kashmiri green tea leaves, saffron, whole spices and nuts. Made and served from a traditional samovar or samovar or kettle. However, not having a traditional kettle does not stop one from enjoying this delicious tea.
What are some of the health benefits of Kashmiri Kahwa?
- helps to improve digestion
- cleanses the digestive system
- increases metabolism
- builds immunity because saffron is a rich source of Vitamin B12
- the green tea is a rich source of antioxidants making it a stress buster
- the spices and green tea help to fight colds, flus, chest congestions
- it helps to boost energy
Usually drunk during the cold winter months, I don’t mind enjoying a cup of this exotic liquid, even when its hot. I’ve seen my sister in law make kahwa several times. She tends to add less of the tea leaves and I prefer mine with a bit more. I’ve taken 2¼ cups of water as by the time the water boils with the spices, some is lost through steam.
KASHMIRI KAHWA/ KASHMIRI TEA
Makes 2 cups
2¼ cups water
4 green cardamoms, slightly crushed
1″ cinnamon stick
1-2 tsp Kashmiri green tea
a few strands of saffron
2 tsp almond slivers
2 tsp sugar or honey
- Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to the water in a pan and bring it to a boil.
- Let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Add Kashmiri green tea. Mix. Cover and let the tea leaves infuse for 3-4 minutes.
- In the meantime divide the almond slivers between the two teacups.
- Add a couple of saffron strands to both cups.
- Strain and pour the tea into both the cups.
- Sweeten it with honey or sugar. Stir well and serve immediately.
- Add 1-2 tsp of the green tea depending on how strong you prefer.
- Sometimes dried rose petals are added for flavor.
- Can add pine nuts, walnuts or pistachios instead of almonds.
- Dried fruits like cranberries, apples, pears, raisins can be added.
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You may want to check out other tea recipes:
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Shhh Cooking Secretly a group started by Priya of Priya’s Versatile Recipes, is where every month food bloggers are paired up and give each other 2 secret ingredients to cook with according to the theme chosen. If you’re interested in joining this exciting group then please leave a message in the comment section. Thank you.