When you hear the word ‘Kashmiri’, your brain instantly reaches the world of Kahwa, Modur Pulao and Shab Deg and we don't blame you for that. Just like the scenic landscapes of Kashmir, its delectable cuisine has been winning hearts for ages. But, there is one thing that has created a love-hate feeling amongst people and it is the ‘Tea of Kashmir’, Noon Chai. While its colour and savoury flavour profile appeal to some, others detest the addition of salt to their favourite cup of Chai. However, it is something that Kashmiris cannot go a day without. If you’ve ever visited the lanes of Old Delhi in winters, you would have seen Kashmiris enjoying their morning cup of Noon Chai with Lavassa Roti. While almost all Kashmiris love Noon Chai ardently, they believe and tell different stories about its origin. 

Kashmiri culture and heritage were greatly influenced and revolutionized by the Persian Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamdani. From the propagation of Islamic teachings among masses to uplifting the nation socially and economically, the missionary contributed to the overall development of the state. Many Kashmiris believe that Syed Ali Hamdani brought Noon Chai to Kashmir as he travelled to the state via Central Asia.

 

While a proportion of Kashmir’s population believes in the aforementioned story of its origin, the other proportion believes that Noon Chai came to Kashmir through Bulbul Shah who was from Kashgar in Turkestan. It is believed that the first Muslim of Kashmir, Sultan Shadruddin Shah who embraced the religion from Bulbul Shah made drinking Noon Chai a morning ritual. Gur Gur Chai, a variation of Noon Chai which is consumed by people of Ladakh is similar to Turkestan’s Atkan Chai. This connection forms the base of the belief that Noon Chai is Turkestan’s gift to Kashmir. 

Whatever the origin may be, Noon Chai is loved by Kashmiris in all its forms and variations. Brewed in traditional copper Samovar, Noon Chai has a distinct taste of its own. Many Kashmiris add spices like cinnamon and cardamom to pack in flavours and top the Chai with dry fruits like pistas too.

Intrigued much to taste this chai? Try this recipe to relish the flavours of Kashmir.