The Story Of Exotic Kashmiri Gushtaba
Image Credit: Sayaji Hotel, Raipur

Visiting Kashmir and not having to try a Kashmiri Wazwan is almost like missing out on the major part of Kashmir. Wazwan happens to be a multi-course meal that sees many varieties of vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. Wazwan happens to a special spread that sees thirty-six dishes mostly cooked during a  Kashmiri weddings, gatherings and so on. And one of the most prominent dishes that’s served in this fare is Gustaba. This happens to be the finishing dish made with minced mutton balls which is cooked in yogurt and spices. One can draw parallel to a Rista (another mealball based dish) but the difference lies in the way they both are cooked.

Digging deep in history it’s seen that one can see that the origin of Kashmiri cuisine can be traced back to the 15th century when Timur invaded India. This cuisine sees a influence from Afghanistan, Persia, and central Asia. Coming to Gustaba, the last dish that’s served in Wazwan holds a lot of importance as refusing it is seen as an insult. This traditional dish sees loaded with authentic Kashmiri flavors. Executive Chef Aneesh says “Gushtaba Recipe is an integral part of Kashmiri Wazwan. It is a delicious preparation of meatballs in a thick yogurt gravy. You can serve this aromatic gravy along with Tava roti or butter garlic naan. The recipe has authentic flavours of rich Kashmiri cuisine. Traditionally Gushtaba is served as the last dish of the banquet before the dessert. It is also known as The Dish of Kings in Kashmiri region. Using freshly ground Keema is the key to a great tasting Gushtaba. It is a scrumptious option in winter season or when you have a ceremony or function at home”.

This dish prepared with minced meat that’s done with a wooden pestle, fat, cayenne, fennel, ginger and some garam masala sees a long process of pounding the meat into a much soft texture into a paste form.  Tender balls are made and then cooked in simmer light gravy of yogurt. The dish sees a spicy rich gravy and as the meat balls gets cooked, it comes out to be one delectable dish. 

Here’s the iconic Kashmiri Gushtaba Recipe:


* Mutton leg boneless fat removed 1 kilogram 

* Mutton fat 200 grams 

* Oil to deep fry 

* Onions sliced 2 medium 

* Green cardamom powder 1 teaspoon 

* Salt to taste 

* Mutton stock 4 cups 

* Yogurt 5 cups 

* Cloves 6-8 

* Black cardamoms 2 

* Green cardamoms 6 

* Fennel seed (saunf) powder 3 teaspoons 

* Dry ginger powder (soonth) 3 teaspoons 

* Garlic paste 1 1/2 tablespoons 

* Pure ghee 4 tablespoons 

* Dry mint leaves 1/4 teaspoon 


Step 1: Heat sufficient oil in a kadai and deep fry the onions till brown. Cool and grind into a fine paste. Keep the mutton pieces and fat on a wooden block and pound using a wooden mallet.

Step 2: Preferably you should use a stone base. Add mutton fat and continue to mince. Add green cardamom powder and salt and continue to mince again.

Step 3: Add ice cubes so that the meat does not get heated while mincing. Add some water to ice cubes, dip your hands in it and moisten the mince with wet hands.

Step 4: This way you not only moisten the mince but also keep it cool. Again dip your hands in cold water and shape the mince into koftas either round or oval shaped.

Step 5: Cook the koftas for ten to fifteen minutes in the mutton stock. In another pan mix yogurt with half a cup of water and blend well. Keep a sieve on a pan and place a muslin cloth over it, pour the yogurt mixture and strain.

Step 6: Cook the strained mixture with cloves, green cardamoms, black cardamoms and salt to taste on high heat stirring continuously till the mixture changes its colour.

Step 7: Make a paste of fennel powder and dry ginger powder and add to the yogurt mixture. Add brown onion paste and garlic paste diluted in a little stock.

Step 8: Add ghee and continue to cook. Drain the koftas from the stock and add to the gravy. Do not throw away the remaining stock.

Step 9: You can add it to the gravy or use it for some other dish. Simmer for a while and then add crushed dried mint leaves.