What is Wazawan in Kashmiri cuisine?

The multi-course Kashmiri meal is a part of the Kashmiri Muslim tradition that is an essential and fundamental aspect of their culture. The Wazawan dish is considered has very high regards and it is an art to create the dish. The traditional method of the dish consists of a multi-course meal which has 36 courses. There are almost 30 meat based dishes out of the entire meal. The meat involved in the dishes consists of chicken, fish, and mutton and the preparation of a dish which has a lentil base is regarded as bad omen. The dish has been revered in several restaurants in India and food festivals abroad. It is also a major recipient of Indian food Cambridge.

Wazwan is a mixture of 2 words. The word ‘waz’ means cook and ‘wan’ means shop in Kashmiri. The head chef of the entire cooking process is called the vasta waza while his team of chefs is called waza. Together, they prepare several courses of the meal. The preparation process also includes some items which are prepared in the duration of the night but have perfect flavour and great precision. Wazwan is usually prepared in wedding ceremonies because it commemorates special occasions. The preparation of Wazwan is usually considered an art and a ritual whose knowledge is passed down through several generations. This knowledge is considered sacred and is not shared with anyone that is not a blood relation. The wazas have a rich lineage and are renowned for their service and this is mentioned in the Bukhara menu with great pride.

A large copper platter called ‘traem’ is used to serve the Wazwan and it can serve upto 4 guests. There is a lot of diversity seen during the consumption of the prepared feast. As Kashmiri Muslims recite the name of Allah, the Hindus recite the name of Rudra while eating the delicious food. Tash-t-naer is the ritual of washing hands prior to the food and the attendants move around the guests with jugs and basins to get their hands washed.

The platter is then filled with a heap of rice which is divided into four by 4 seekh kebabs, two tabak maaz, a preparation of barbeque lambs with milk, butter, and ground spices; four methi kormas which have chicken or mutton seasoned with a beautiful blend of spices; a zaffran kokur which is a combination of chicken and saffron sauce; a safed (white) kokur which is a combination of chicken with white sauce and the list includes some more courses which are laid in front of the guests. There are dips of saffron and chutneys which are served in earthen pots and given to the guests. The junior waza of the team then goes around serving the remaining twenty courses.

Seven items that are must in Wazwan include Qabargaah, Rista, Damiwal Korma, Rogan Josh, Gushtaba, Marchhwangan Korma, and Aab Gosh which are different lamb and mutton dishes which are blended beautifully with several spices to form delicious gravies.

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