Kashmiri Shabdeg: This Mutton Dish Cooked Overnight Is A Labour Of Love
Image Credit: Kashmiri Shabdeg

Kashmiri cuisine is undeniably one of the most intricate and layered cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. It is referred to the cuisine belonging to the region Kashmir valley. A cuisine so vast and diverse that it may merit a book of its own, but there are some salient features of the cuisine that truly makes it all things remarkable. For instance, their wide repository of breads. The bakers in Kashmir are called Kandur, and from the wee hours of morning itself, they start baking a variety of fresh breads such as czot, sheermal and roth khaber. Then there are some peculiarities in the preparation of curries. Whether you are cooking lentils, legumes, paneer or meat, the addition of fragrant, whole spices is common. The Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is also characterized by the free use of hing or asafetida, whereas the Muslim preparations include onions, garlic and shallots to induce a certain pungent quality to the dishes. Kashmiri food is also incredibly vibrant, Cockscomb flower, called "moaval" in Kashmiri, is often boiled and used in curries that help impart a lovely red hue. Alternatively, the pandits also rely on not-so-hot Kashmiri red chilly powder for its colour.

Kashmir’s Love Affair With Mutton And Lamb  

Rice and meat are eaten voraciously, many Kashmiri Pandits also do not refrain from meat. If you are privy to Kashmiri food, you would also be able to tell the subtle differences between the Rogan josh of Kashmiri Pandit versus that of the Kashmiri Muslims. Then, of course, there’s mutton biryani, yakhni mutton, rista or meatballs. One such iconic mutton delicacies from Kashmir is the Kashmiri Shab Deg. Shab Deg may not necessarily be a meaty dish, the vegetarian version is made with turnip or shalgam as we call it in Hindi. The non-veg versions may comprise lamb, chicken or beef.  

Shab Deg is slowly losing its place in the typical Kashmiri fare, as it is a time-consuming preparation. But if you are a fan of rich, slow-cooked curries, each and every minute you spent making this red-hued curry is worth it. The word ‘Shab Deg’ is actually a combination of two words Shab and Deg, which means night and cooking pot in Persian language. As most of you must have guessed, the dish is left to simmer during night, and is consumed the day after. The masalas enter the very core of the meatballs, and the meat is also incredibly tender and juicy.

Here are some tips to keep in mind. Since it is a time-consuming curry, it is a good idea to prepare ingredients in advance. Collect them all on your countertop. Prepare the almond and poppy paste in advance. Peel and wash the turnips and keep aside. And soak saffron in milk and keep it in refrigerator, that’s right, this curry is made with natural colours and is so ‘gram-worthy'.  Here’s the recipe you had been waiting for. Try it soon and let us know how you liked it.