Kashmiri Culture, Cuisine & Spice Cakes!

Food lores are cultures shared, lived and made immortal. The tempering, spice mixes, methods of cooking, serving and pairings pertaining to every household differs slightly, and that is what makes them all unique. Speaking of Indian households, the Garam Masala or the masala added to give aroma or finishing is the one making all the difference.

Garam Masala from Baniya community, Potli Masala from Lucknow and Hyderabad, the classic Bengali Panch Phoron, Maharashtrian Goda Masala, Tamilian Kari Vadgam and Podis are the regional specifications of the spice blend which finishes their dish. These include aromatic spices like green cardamom, sandalwood, khus ki jad, rose petals, cumin etc. The Kashmiri Ver is one such community specific spice which is well guarded by all Kashmiri families and is added to most dishes except Yakhni.  

To make Kashmiri Ver Tikki, a special mortar pestle, called Kanz & Muhul in Kashmiri, is used. Celebrated food writer, Marryam H. Reshii mentions in her book 'The Flavour Of Spice' that Kashmiri Chillies are ground with the whole spices and then doughnut shaped patties are made out of them, which is then left to sun-dry. However, the Muslim community uses garlic and shallots to add binding while the Kashmiri Pandits don't.

"To use the Ver Tikki Masala, take a little piece of Ver Tikki and crush it by rubbing between your palms and sprinkle over the dish just before you finish cooking and give it a stir. For about 1 kg of gravy, 1 teaspoon of Ver would be like cherry on the cake.", says Chef Nalini Sadhu of Matamaal Restaurants. She also tells us that adding Ver Tikki masala to red coloured gravies not only enhances the aroma and flavour but the colour as well. Add a pinch to you Rajma, Roganjosh or any other tomato or red chilli powder based dish and take your cooking skills to another level.

Information and recipe by Mrs. Nalini Moti Sadhu, Chef/Curator at Matamaal Restaurants; Scripted by Priyanka Bhardwaj.