Phira Saal: A Celebration Of Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine
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Kashmiri cuisine is one that you can never get over, if you try it once. The pristine beauty of the Valley, also known as ‘heaven on earth’, goes beyond just that and boasts a cuisine that is steeped in traditions, and has evolved through generations.  With strong influences from the cuisines of Central Asia, Persia, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, Kashmiri cuisine is a blend of many cultures, yet with an identity of its own that has evolved over time. It has chiefly two cooking styles – the robust Wazwan and the Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine, which is lighter yet equally delicious.  

When speaking of the Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine, one cannot miss the celebration of ‘Phira Saal’- a post wedding ritual, in which the bride’s immediate family visits the groom’s home laden with gifts, and are welcomed with a sumptuous feast. Taking cues from this very tradition, DoubleTree by Hilton Gurgaon hosted a celebration of traditional Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine at Asia Alive that takes diners on a theatrical culinary journey.   

For the unversed, the cuisine’s foundation lies in three exquisite gravies – Kaliya (turmeric-based); Yakhni (yoghurt-based); and rogan josh (dried Kashmiri red chilli powder-based), which are used for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. The 10-day event of ‘Phira Saal’ at the hotel was a lavish affair, which included several dishes from the Valley. 

Helmed by Chef Rahul Wali and Home Chef Sunil Matto, the menu was graced by delicacies such as mutton yakhni, mujj gaad - fish cooked with radish and a host of spices - dum oluv, paneer qaliya, rogan josh, and kahwa, along with desserts like shufta and kong phirni, with all its authentic flavours. The ambience of the place was enough to transport you to a Kashmiri wedding with live santoor music. 

Did you know that it was the intricate Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine that introduced the use of yoghurt, asafoetida, and turmeric powder to Indian cuisine? It was traditionally cooked on dhaan (Chulha) in a deigh (clay pot) without the use of onion and garlic, and with a heavy influence of dry ginger and fennel powder. 

Image: DoubleTree by Hilton Gurgaon

If all the talk about Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine has got you craving some, we’ve got an exclusive recipe of Paneer Qalia straight from the kitchen of Chef Rahul Wali for you. Try this authentic Kashmiri Pandit recipe and let us know your experience. 


  • 300 gms paneer
  • 200 ml mustard oil (for frying)
  • 100 ml mustard oil (for cooking)
  • 1 gm cumin seeds
  • 3-4 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf- 1no.
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 10 gms turmeric powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Water, as required
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi
  • 100 ml milk


  • Heat oil in a kadai for frying. 
  • Cut the paneer into 1/2-inch cubes. Deep fry till light brown edges.
  • Remove and keep the fried cubes in water. 
  • In a pot, add mustard oil. Add cumin seeds, cardamom pods, bay leaf, clove, turmeric powder, salt and mix well.
  • Add a little water to avoid the turmeric burning. 
  • Now add fried paneer cubes and sauté it for a minute. 
  • Add warm water to the level of the paneer. Let it simmer. 
  • As soon as the curry boils, add a little milk. 
  • Sprinkle with kasuri methi and garam masala powder and mix well. Cover the pot and cook on a slow flame for 10 minutes. Check for seasoning and serve hot.