Chef Daniel Humm Savours Kashmiri Noon Chai And Tchot
Image Credit: aditidugar/Instagram

After exploring the fare of Delhi, internationally renowned Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park in New York is now immersing himself in the culture and cuisine of Kashmir. The head chef and owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant has made his way to India to collaborate with Chef Varun Totlani of Masque Mumbai on a menu called 'A Nod To Nature's Best', a 10-course plant-based meal that bridges the gaps between their approaches to food, cooking and cuisine.

In Srinagar, Chef Humm, Chef Totlani and the teams of Eleven Madison Park and Masque settled in for a taste of a Kashmiri teatime at Chai Jaai, a beloved tea room that offers a blend of local history and tea traditions. Humm poured out some rosy pink noon chai for everyone, and they enjoyed that along with kahwa, tchot and butter with gulkand preserve. 

Image Credits: Aditi Dugar/Instagram

The word ‘noon’ in Koshur (Kashmiri) means salt and Noon Chai is a salt tea. Also known as Gulabi Chai for its pink hue or Sheer Chai, this tea is made to warm people up in the cold Kashmiri winters. The unique pink colour comes from the use of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate during the brewing process. The soda and tea leaves react, and the intense aeration adds to the chemical process that leaves it with its ruby tone.

Noon Chai is rarely enjoyed on its own, usually accompanied by some form of bread, usually Girda or Tchot. This unleavened flatbread is similar to a thick naan, with a crisp crust and a softer inside. It’s eaten plain or stuffed with fillings alongside breakfast in Kashmir.

Chef Humm’s journey has led him through the ancient kandurs (bakeries) and around the local markets to examine the indigenous produce that Kashmir has to offer. So we can’t help but wonder whether some of these experiences are destined to shape some new dishes at Eleven Madison Park in the future.