The cuisine of the Kashmiri Pandits is as rich in spices as it is, in its centuries-old history.
Nature has blessed the Kashmir valley with not just pristine beauty, but also a plethora of great food items that the Kashmiris enjoy. The first foods of the valley were the cuisine of Kashmiri Pandits until the valley got invaded in the 15th century by Taimur Shah Durrani. Since then, the food has been largely influenced by Persia, the Middle East and Afghanistan. The two major cuisine that developed in the region are wazwan, the Muslim style of cooking, and the hindu style of cooking called the pandit cuisine. Rista and Gushtaba are the first things that come to mind when people think of Kashmiri cuisine. For the uninitiated, Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is as rich in spices as it is in its centuries-old history. Although there are some similarities in the use of ingredients between wazwan and pandit cooking methods, there are significant distinctions as well. Onion, garlic, and fresh ginger are eschewed in Kashmiri Pandit cuisine. Sauf (fennel) powder, sonth (dry ginger), hing (asafetida), turmeric, curd, and a few whole spices are some of the components used in Kashmiri pandit kitchens. With all of the recipes, rice has always been the standard accompaniment.
Kashmiris are tea lovers. The most popular beverage is noon chai, which is a pinkish-colored salted tea brewed with black tea leaves, soda bicarbonate, salt, and milk. Another popular choice is kahwah or mughal chai, a green tea with crushed almonds that is occasionally flavored with cardamom, cinnamon, or saffron. Different households prepare kahwah tea in slightly different ways.