Culture & Recipes
Kandur Waan: The Kashmiri love for bread
by Kanz & Muhul
Feb 23, 2023
The scenic valley of Kashmir has beauty of mythical proportions, the Chinar trees on the Dal lake, the spectacular mountain peaks capped with snow, gushing streams and lush gardens blooming with flowers. The beautiful landscape has been a source of inspiration for many poets of the past and present, and while the scenic treasures are what draw you in, the rich culture is what makes you stay.
From Goshtaba to Roganjosh and Dum Aloo, the rich cuisine of Kashmir has charmed everyone who's ever had a taste, but beyond the flavourful platter bedecked with saffron, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon are the baked goods. Kashmiris have a very special relationship with bread and while rice remains a staple, bread is an integral part of the Kashmiri cuisine.
Every street has its baker, known as Kandur and these Kandur shops are more than just shops, they are a social hub of sorts, where conversations and greetings flow. A typical winter morning may start with a piping hot cup of noon chai or Kehwa with freshly sourced Katlam from your corner baker. For a family gathering, you might get to savour the decadent Roth for dessert.
From everyday bread to decadent ones, here are 9 Kashmiri breads you must try -
An everyday baked, unleavened Flatbread- often considered as a mix between the Naan and the Rumali roti. It is crispy, yet tender and before eating, it is liberally spread with butter or ghee. It is also used to wrap barbecue bits and traditional Kashmiri appetisers such as Masala Tchot.
This layered cousin of the croissant is a flaky bread that is best accompanied by Sheer chai or Kehwa and a dollop of butter. Some bakers make it thick and scone-like, while others prepare a thin and crispy variant which is softer to bite into than the previous one.
Kulcha is a crispy, biscuit-like bread baked exclusively with ghee that gives it its crunchy crumbly texture. Miles away from its namesake north Indian Kulcha, this savoury bread tastes fabulous with hot tea in the evening or morning.
Sheermal is saffron-flavoured bread with a dry, crumbly biscuit-like texture and a light sweet flavour- it goes perfectly with tea or even a meal. The word sheermal is derived from the Persian words sheer, meaning milk, malidan meaning to rub. In a literal translation, sheermal means milk rubbed.
Girda is one of the most famous breads in Kashmir. Made with dough that has been fermented overnight, it is baked in a tandoor to achieve a golden crisp texture and goes well for breakfast - Harissa and a hot cup of chai.
Similar to the bagels of the west, Kashmiri Telvor is an evening bread which is best accompanied by Kehwa or the salty pink tea called Sheer Chai. It is a subtly sweet bread sprinkled with white sesame seeds that can be found in any Kashmiri bakery.
This flaky flatbread is prepared for special occasions in the valley and goes well with a steaming hot cup of Kehwa. During festivities, it is often enjoyed with rice pudding or sweet curd. Bagherkhani has a crispy biscuit-like texture and is made from all-purpose flour and sooji in a tandoor.
Literally translates to Ghee roti. Gyev Chot has a fluffy, soft texture that is best savoured with spicy dishes such as Roghanjosh and masc. Gyev Tchot is the special edition of Tchot, an everyday bread, that is baked in limited quantity, largely on orders only, and is enjoyed on special occasions like the holy month of Ramadan.
A special cake-like bread, topped with many dry fruits, is baked in our traditional clay tandoor. This bread is shared on joyous occasions with family and friends. Routh is also used to announce the arrival of a new bride in the neighbourhood when the family of the groom distributes the sweet bread in the locality. A similar custom is carried out to mark the arrival of a baby.
Looking for Kashmiri Breads in Delhi NCR or Pune? Reach out to our friends at Matamaal Restaurant - instagram.com/matamaal/?hl=en