6 Unique And Traditional Kashmiri Foods Eaten In Winter
Image Credit: Ruwangan Hachi | Image Credit: Rukhposh

Popularly known as ‘Heaven on Earth’, Kashmir truly stands by its name. The state exudes its beauty differently in each season. The place, especially in winter, experiences the maximum beauty with snowcapped mountains and roads. However, the problem arises when agriculture comes to a halt.  

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter season seems to be a far-fetched dream for the locals of Kashmir. Since the availability of vegetables and fruits is scanty, people have opted for sun-drying vegetables and other winter foods, including meat. This practice has been in existence for decades and is still under use. Sun-dying vegetables or hokh syun proved to be an effective way to consume vegetables and other foods from ancient times to the present day.  

Different vegetables, fish, and meat have different methods of sun-drying and are preserved for longer periods. This method does not rot, get attacked by pests, or get spoiled by fungi. A varied variety of sun-dried vegetables and winter vegetables are available in Kashmir. Take a look at some of them:  

  • Wangan Hachi  

These are dried brinjals. The brinjals are split into four sections, however, the sections are not separated and are held together by the green calyx at the top. The sectioned brinjals are hung on a rope which is set up like a clothesline and sun-dried. Wangan Hachi is mostly cooked with Moong dal or green gram.   

  • Al Hachi  

These are dried long, slightly thick strands of bottle gourd. The sun-drying method of bottle gourd is similar to Wangan Hachi. The bottle gourd is peeled, sliced, and dried in the sun. Al Hachi is mostly cooked with light spices or with mutton.  

  • Ruwangan Hachi  

Ruwanan Hachi are dried tomatoes. A wide variety of tomatoes are dried in their distinct way across the world. Ruwangan Hachi are quite popular around the world, and some are seasoned with salt, some with herbs, and some without anything. Kashmiri Ruwangan Hachi has a distinct chewy and sour taste. They can also be powdered to be used in curries or other dishes.  

  • Hokhegad  

They are dried fish which is sun-dried in the open air. Here, the sun-dried fish are Bolinao and other fish varieties available in the local market. Just like other dried foods, Hokhegad has a shelf life of many years. This method is cheap and effective. These dried fish are available in winter in the local market and stay till March or April. Besides, these are a source of protein and act as a source of medicine for patients suffering from asthma.  

  • Shab Deg  

In literal Kashmiri terms, Shab means night and Deg means a heavy-bottomed vessel. The cooking of Shab Deg is a long-lost tradition. Turnips, balls of grounded meat, pieces of mutton, and a blend of spices including saffron, and almonds are slow-cooked and simmered over the night to make a flavourful stew of mutton and turnip. The cooking vessel or Deg is covered by a lid and sealed with dough to prevent the escape of vapours. This is a flavourful dish enjoyed in the winter season.  

  • Gogji Aar  

These are the dried turnips that are a part of the winter menu. Though dried turnips are eaten in other parts of Asia such as China, in Kashmir they are dried in a particular manner. The turnips are peeled, washed, and thickly sliced. A little whole is carved out by using a pointed knife in the middle of the slice and then the slices are added to a string which is then tied and sun-dried. The Gogji Aar are eaten with cottage cheese, mutton, and others.