Spices from Kashmir

Posted by Shekha Dhar 18/09/2017 1 Comment(s) Kashmiri Spices,



Spices - the enhancers of taste

A wise person once said that, ‘Variety is the spice of life’, and someone else gave this another rendition by saying that ‘Spice is the variety of life’; I feel like both are true, for variety it is that we, hunger to explore new things, and by that we found so many new spices. And with those spices we make so many food dishes, that gives us variety.


Spices travelled the world over, through what is called ‘the spice route’, traders, explorers, soldiers, etc. carried it from one region to another. The study and history of 'The Spice Route' is my pet project, I wish to travel the spice route!


There are stories of wars that have been fought over spices, for example it is believed that in the 17th century, the Dutch seized the island of Ceylon, which was the world's largest cinnamon supplier, from the Portuguese, demanding outrageous quotas from the poor laboring Chalia caste.


Then the Dutch learned of a source of cinnamon along the coast of India, they bribed and threatened the local king to destroy it all, and thus preserved their monopoly on the prized spice. In 1795, England seized Ceylon from the French, who had acquired it from their victory over Holland during the Revolutionary Wars.


However, by 1833, the downfall of the cinnamon monopoly had begun when other countries found that it could be easily grown in areas such as Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Mauritius, Réunion and Guyana. Wow, the history of spices, always deeply interests me!


Around the world people use more than one spice while cooking, some recipes call for the mix of similar spices, so people came up with specific ‘spice-mixes’ that can be handy to use. So below are such spice-mixes, I have deliberately not added recipes here, as I believe that any food should be made like the way you like it, so go ahead, read what the spice-mix generally consists of, minus the ingredient you dislike, and add the ones you like according to taste. 


Kashmiri Spices - the aroma of Kashmiri cuisine


a) Kashmiri Chilli Powder

Kashmiri Chilli powder locally known as "Marchwangan" are deep red in color. These are made from dried chilies with wrinkled skin and is available in Powder form. These are also called Deghi Mirch which is commonly sold by many Branded manufacturers but the purest form of Kashmiri Mirch Powder is available in Kashmir only. A teaspoon full of this Powder instantly imparts a vibrant red color to any dish with a hint of heat as well. Its used commonly in many Indian cuisines.

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b) Kashmiri Fennel Powder or Saunf Powder

Kashmiri Fennel powder locally known as "baidyan" is used in all Kashmiri households. Fennel seeds known for their medicinal value are grounded to fine powder and then sold locally. Since, powder form of Fennel seeds isn't available easily in other parts of India, therefore, a majority of Kashmiris buy the stock of spice from online shops.

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c) Ginger Powder

Kashmiri Ginger powder locally known as "Shyonth" is widely used in Kashmiri cuisines. It tastes bitter if touched with tongue but it adds aroma to dishes in which it's added particularly non-veg dishes.

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d) Asofeda or Hing

Kashmiri Hing locally known as "Yunguh" is a flavour enhancer used by Kashmiris in many dishes. It serves as an alternative to Garlic and has got Pungent smeel. Its available in Solid rock form or powder form. These days its available in paste form which is the purest form of Kashmiri Hing. It has got many medicinal benefits and the major among these is improved digestion.

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e) Garam Masala

Kashmiri Garam Masala which literally means hot (garam) and masala (spice) isn't a spice in itself. It is a spice blend used throughout India and the whole sub-continent. This special blend of spice is used as a small quantity at the end of cooking or fried in the beginning to add subtle flavour to the cooked dish. Garam masala is prepared from a variety of spices. Its pungent but not "hot" the same way as chilli pepper. Garam masala can be added to a number od dishes but most common among these are Rogan Josh, Rajma, Kashmiri Keema, Dum-Aloo etc.
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f)  Kashmiri Masala Tikki

Kashmiri Masala Tikki locally known as "Vaeer" is abundantly used in Kashmiri Kitchen. The Masala Tikki is made from spices like Cloves, Zeera, Red Chilli Powder, Saunf Powder, Methraa, Turmeric, Garam Masala, Heeng or Garlic. There are a sect of peolpe who prefer Heeng over Garlic, however, the item is available in both flavours. This item also finds use in marriage functions and serves as a mark of respect to head cook being handed over before the start of cooking of dishes for marriage feast.

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g) Black Cardamon

Black Cardamon locally known as "Badeh Aleh" is widely used in Kashmir in many dishes. Kashmiris use this in preparing Rajma, Rogan Josh and other mouth watering dishes. Its seeds are mixed with mutton keema while preparing keema or "Musch" in Kashmiri Language. The seeds also find application in "Roat" which is prepared while mixing with kneaded dough and then prepared in ghee.


i)  Rong or Clove

Cloves which are locally known as "Rong" are basically flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtacease. They are native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia and widely used as a spice. These are used in all types of Kashmiri Dishes but most common application is Red Paneer, Rogan Josh, Much, Rajma etc.


j)  Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds locally known as "Zyur" finds application in many dishes being cooked in Kashmiri Kitchen. the white variety of Cumin seeds are widely used in Kashmir and can be added in almost all types of dishes including veg and non-veg.


k) Cinamon

Cinamon locally known as "Dalcheen" is having many uses when we speak of Kashmir. It is used while cooking of dishes and preparing of world famous Kashmiri Kehwa as well. It is obtained from inner bark of tree "Cinnamomum" being known for producing healing essential oils. The spice has been used over centuries for curing diseases like cancer, fku and indigestion. The fragrant spice contains fiber, calcium, magnesium and iron. This also has properties to cure skin, health and hair problem, hence, widely used in Kashmir in almost all types of preparations.


L) Green Cardamon

Green Cardamon locally known as "Auhl" has got most widespread application in Kashmiri Kitchen. Its used to prepare Kashmiri kehwa and also used in cooking of veg and non-veg dishes. I Kashmir, whenever some person visits a relative or friend with some marrigae invitation or birthday prasad then the person is given "Auhl" with Sugar or Almonds in return. Its also used as a mouth freshener by many to do away with bad breath.


We have reproduced the most commonly used spices though there a lot more which are used in Kashmiri Kitchen. 








1 Comment(s)

Anjani Joshipura:
15/09/2018, 05:08:41 PM

I really appreciate details info about kashmiri spices thanks anjan I joshipura

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