The history of modern Kashmiri cuisine (Kashmiri: कॉशुर खयॊन / کأشُر کھٮ۪ن; Kashur khyon) dates back to the last years of the 14th century, when the Mongol ruler Timur invaded India during the reign of Nasiruddin Muhammad of the Tughlaq dynasty. This led to the migration of 1700 skilled woodcarvers, weavers, architects, calligraphers and cooks from Samarkand to the valley of Kashmir. The descendants of these cooks, the Wazas, are the master chefs of Kashmir.
The existing rich cuisine of Kashmir is mildly spiced and full of aromatic flavours. The most notable ingredient in Kashmiri cuisine is lamb and mutton, of which there are over 30 varieties. Ancient texts and records from Kashmir have shown that Kashmiri’s have always been heavy meat eaters. This habit persists in today’s Kashmir.
Kashmiri Pandit’s (holy men) had the earliest influence on Kashmiri cuisine. The cooking style of Kashmiri Pandit’s included an extensive use of turmeric, curd and mustard oil with a deliberate neglect to garlic, onions and tomatoes, which was influenced by Turkish, Persian and Afghan cuisine with the arrival of the warrior Timur.
Once the Muslims arrived in Kashmir, they got mesmerized by the beauty of this paradise on earth. Kashmir is naturally gifted with the most fragrant and flavoured spices like saffron, Kashmiri red chillies, cockscomb, zirish and many more. Muslims gave an entirely new face to Kashmiri cuisine by bringing those rich spices into use. Muslims introduced saffron, dry fruits, Kashmiri red chillies, butter, clarified butter, garlic and tomatoes to Kashmiri cuisine. Like Turkish, Persian and Afghan cuisine, lamb became a relished food in the new Kashmiri cuisine.
Some of the most popular Kashmiri dishes are goshtaba, shabdeg, saffron rice, Rogan Josh, Phirnee and Kahwa. The popular Balti food of Baltistan is also inspired from Kashmiri cuisine.
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