Kashmir holds many secrets and one of the most wondrous is its cuisine. Drawing from many influences the food of modern Kashmir features primarily non-vegetarian due to the harsh climate that was unfavourable for more crops but there are an array of exquisite vegetarian dishes on offer. These mostly hail from the homes of the Kashmiri pundits and are heavily influenced by Mughlai cuisines. In modern Kashmiri cuisine, we can also see a lot of culinary styles from regions like Afghanistan, Persia and Central Asia in the traditional Wazwan but all bear the signature stamp of Kashmiri culture with complex spices like cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom, cloves, saffron, saunf, and curd (yoghurt) widely in their cuisine. Kashmiri red chillies are the other essential ingredient, this chilli lends dishes a vibrant colour, but is not pungent at all.

One vegetable that was hardy enough to bear the Kashmiri cold and become a staple of the cuisine is the lotus stem also known locally as Nadru or Kamal Kakdi. Lotus stem appears across India in various forms such as deep-fried chips or in pickles, but in Kashmir, they honour the indigenous plant in many inventive ways. 

Also Read: Wazwan: A Culinary Affair with Kashmiri Cuisine

The lotus plant first arrived in Kashmiri cuisine during the 15th century under the rule of Badshah Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin. The King was on a boat ride around the Gill Sar and as they admired the beauty of the lotus flower, they were struck with an idea. They harvested the plant, picked it from the water and decided to add it to the evening menu. Since then, it has been at the heart of many Kashmiri dishes.

Since then, Nadru can be found in many various forms. Meat curries, dals, fried as a snack or salted and pickled for later use. One of the most famous dishes however is the Nadru Yakhni, a yoghurt-based curry which takes time and patience to conquer, but yields a delicious feast that’s mild and yet packed with flavour. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Lotus Stem
  • 2 cups Curd 
  • 1 tablespoon Gram flour
  • 1 teaspoon Dry ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel seeds 
  • 2 teaspoon Ajwain 
  • 1 inch Cinnamon Stick 
  • 2 Black cardamom 
  • 2 Cardamom Pods/Seeds
  • 2 Cloves
  • 1 Bay leaf 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon Garam masala powder
  • 3 to 4 tablespoon Ghee
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Peel the skin on the lotus stem and slice it thinly before rinsing it thoroughly under running water.
  • Boil the lotus stem in water on medium heat until fork tender but not too soft.
  • In a bowl whisk together curd, water (about ¾ cup) and besan well.
  • Heat 3 tablespoon ghee in a pan. 
  • Add cumin seeds and fry for a minute.
  • Pour in the whisked yoghurt mix, simmer and bring to a boil. 
  • Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Now add the cooked lotus stem, sprinkle garam masala, saunf powder, and continue to cook on low flame for about 5 minutes.
  • In another pan melt the remaining ghee. 
  • Add cumin seeds and stir for 10-15 seconds. Next add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, bay leaves and fry until aromatic. 
  • Sprinkle asafoetida on top and turn off the flame.
  • Pour this tadka into the yoghurt gravy, and stir well. 
  • Garnish with dried mint and serve with Kashmiri Naan or rice.