A traditional Wazwan or a Kashmiri feast is supposed to have as many as 36 delicacies. Replete with condiments, Kashmiri cuisine is strongly influenced by its location and fresh spices which are grown here. Srinagar is dotted with restaurants, but you require a bit of navigation to ensure you go to the right places. Tuck in, it’s like nothing you’ve ever eaten before.
Wazwan translates to mean an elaborate spread of 36 dishes, and is typically eaten by Kashmiris on special occasions. Hours go into preparing the food, and the meats are pounded till they are at their soft and succulent best. It’s hard to imagine anyone eating this more than once or twice a year; that’s how heavy and satisfying it is. Comprising of different courses, the meal is finally rounded of with phirni for dessert and a hot steaming cup of kahwa to help you digest it all. Food Gali at Lal Chowk and Shamyana Restaurant serve the most authentic wazwan in the city.
It’s on all the Indian menus in the cities, but the best place to order this mutton dish is at a restaurant in Kashmir. Oozing with spices and oil, it’s worth every inch on the waist. Best eaten with rice or a hot naan.
Another must-eat while you’re in the valley, is this spicy delicacy of minced lamb and turnip. The lamb meat is fresh and succulent and blends surprisingly well with the turnip. Accompany it with a hot roti.
All bakeries in Srinagar open early, so they’re the perfect breakfast spot. There are several good ones in the Lal Chowk and Dalgate area, just pick one and ask for these local specialities: tsot (a round loaf of bread topped with poppy and sesame seeds), sheermal (their version of puff pastry), and kulchas which are delicious and extremely filling. Accompany these with a cup of sheer (salted tea). Also, Hollywood Bakery on Residency road is famous for its plum cake
While Kashmiri cuisine is known for its meats, the locals prefer to go vegetarian during lunch. Pair some plain steamed rice with kidney beans with turnip, paneer in hot gravy, lotus stem, dum aloo or haak saag – the dishes are laden with Kashmiri spices and have a distinct flavour. Both Ahdoos or Mughal Durbar on Shervani Road do a superb job and serve absolutely authentic local fare at affordable prices.
Bismillah Restaurant on Jawahar Road has gained a reputation over the years for its delectably sweet-spicy Kashmiri pulao. Served with a generous helping of dry fruits and walnut chutney, it’s like nothing you’ve tasted before.
Strawberries and cherries
Fruit vendors lining the streets sell the freshest and sweetest strawberries and cherries. Just pop open a box while you’re strolling around.
The valley people love their hot snacks, and the best way to get a taste of their kitchen is by stopping at one of the hawker stalls around Dal lake. Frying everything from potatoes to lotus stems in a thick batter of flour, these spicy pakoras are usually sold with a sprinkle of hot spiced powder or a side of green chutney.