Jammu & Kashmir are two names that are often said together, almost naturally. The region boasts of scenic beauty as well as a rich culinary heritage. So is it the same for both Jammu and Kashmir?
While the union territory has been an arena of conflict and long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan, we cannot overlook the rich cultural aspects of the people living there. If you have been holding a misconception that Jammu and Kashmir is one and the same thing, we’ll tell you otherwise. Kashmir has been in the limelight for various reasons in the past, particularly political. However, the immense love that the feisty cuisine of the region has received across the country is no stranger to us too.
From the luscious curries, qaliyas and chammans to the assortment of breads, Kashmiri cuisine has largely been a meaty affair. With its widespread popularity, it has been the subject of food connoisseurs time and again. In this process, a humble cuisine of Jammu has not received as much attention. Yes, we are talking about the simple yet rustic fare of the Dogri community. A predominantly Hindu community with Aryan ancestors, Jammu and Kashmir was under their rule in the 19th century till India got divided. In fact, the community has been known for their strength, valour and courage.
Essentials Of The Dogri Cuisine
While rajma was brought to India by the Portuguese, it has become an intrinsic part of the Dogri community along with long-grain rice and pomegranate. These elements are commonly found in most of their recipes. A perfect amalgamation of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, the most prominent delicacy has to be the Khatta meat. It is one of the few staple curries where mutton is cooked along with pomegranate and lime juice. In Hindi, khatta means sour and it is these elements that add a slight tanginess to the dish.
The tanginess is carried forward across the cuisine where we can see chutneys and pickles like ambal being prepared with pumpkin and jaggery. The khatta-meetha taste goes well with steamed rice. Moreover, it is not limited to pumpkin alone. You can use other vegetables like brinjal to add to the sweet and sour treat.
The cooking technique that is special to this cuisine is dhungar. The smoky flavours infused with the spices lend the recipes a distinct chalky taste. From the meaty dishes like the khatta meat to vegetables like kohlrabi are cooked using this technique. Apart from pomegranate (anardana), tamarind is another souring agent that is commonly used in the Dogri fare.
Unlike the Kashmiri spread which is incomplete without red meats, the Dogri community relishes a rather simple, homely, vegetarian meal. The flavours are quite basic yet have a rustic blend. Auria is one such vegetarian curry which is quite popular there. The curd-based curry has finely diced boiled potatoes as the main element, cooked in mustard oil along with fenugreek seeds. Since tanginess is an essential part of the Dogri palate, the curd used in this dish is also sour in nature.
A sweet-affair on festive days and ceremonies, Gheur is prepared and enjoyed with curd. The deep-fried dessert is made from maida and peas and is crispy and crunchy in texture. Meethe chawal are yet another favourite at the dessert corner. The sweetened rice is infused with saffron to give it an aromatic feel.
If this has intrigued your taste buds, tap into the locally-produced food of the Dogri community and taste the freshness of nature.