Kashmiri Pundit cuisine is under the spotlight at the Park Chennai’s all-day diner
My definition of Kashmiri cuisine has been shaped by the traditional wazwan. I’ve enjoyed an elaborate wazwan – a multi-course Kashmiri meal, during my visits to the state. Kashmiri food promotions in luxury hotels in Chennai and other Indian cities typically showcase the wazwan. It’s why the Park Chennai’s attempt to highlight Kashmiri Pundit cuisine deserves your attention.
Rajni Jinsi is one of the flag bearers of this unique cuisine. Her family’s roots are in Anantnag where they’ve hosted elaborate meals for Kashmiri Royals like Maharaja Hari Singh. She’s shared some of her family’s culinary traditions with diners across India through curated events. I must confess, I’m not big on buffets but this one worked for me. If you’re sampling Kashmiri Pundit cuisine for the first time (like I did), it’s easier to pick off a buffet.
Every community’s cuisine across India has its quirks and unique facets. While Kashmiri Pundits enjoy mutton and fish, onions and garlic are taboo in their food. According to Rajni, chicken is a new addition and was not allowed into their family kitchens a few decades ago. You may not miss the absence of garlic and onions thanks to the multi-dimensional flavours. I tried at least five different gravies and each of them had a different cooking style and interplay of flavours.
The Hook Nane – Kashmiri style dry roasted mutton and the Chaman Pakora – fried cottage cheese cubes (coated in rice flour) marinated in special kashmiri paste, stood out in the starters section. I enjoyed the tangy flavours of the Nadru Yakhni – lotus stems in yoghurt gravy and the quintessential Kashmiri dish – Dum Aloo. The potatoes are deep fried and slow cooked. The Kashmiri red chillies add a great flavour to this dish. The same chilli is the star in the Busch Kofta – minced lamb kofta cooked in red curry.
You expect to finish a Kashmiri meal with a phirni or a kheer. The surprise ending was the shufta, a simple but scrumptious dessert reserved for special occasions and festivals. This mildly flavoured dessert brings together nuts, dry fruits along with tiny paneer cubes in a sugar syrup. The Perfect finish to a wonderful meal.
The Kashmiri Pundit food promotion is on at 601 (dinner buffets only) until Sunday, March 24, 2019.
The Park Hotel is at 601, Anna Salai, Chennai. The buffets costs Rs 1711/head. For reservations call (044) 4267-6000