With an aim to revive the traditional Kashmiri food culture of the valley, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Department (JKTDC) opened an ethnic restaurant in Srinagar recently. According to IND News, as lockdown restrictions eased, JKTDC decided to slowly open the valley for tourists.
“This restaurant was planned with an aim to promote Kashmiri food.
“Anyone visiting Kashmir can visit this place and enjoy its beautiful ambiance and appreciate the traditional food, music and familiarise themselves with Kashmir’s rich history,” Nissar Ahmad Wani, Director – Tourism Kashmir, said.
The restaurant was opened by the tourism department a couple of weeks back for visitors on the banks of Jhelum at Zero Bridge in Srinagar.
The tourism department explained that the concept would assist to educate the young generation about the importance of traditional foods.
Kashmir has more than five to seven thousand years old history and local food is an important part of its lineage.
However, food habits have gradually changed and the younger generation have very little understanding of traditional Kashmiri foods. This initiative by the J-K administration is expected to gear interest and familiarise Kashmiri youth with traditional local food.
“We are delighted to see the age-old Kashmiri culture displayed all around this place. I would request people to visit this place and appreciate the hidden treasures of Kashmiri art, culture and food,” Nadeem Ahmad, a customer, told a news agency, ANI News, reporting about this venture.
The restaurant is designed in the form of a houseboat with Kashmiri art and tradition being the highlights of the place. The rich legacy of Kashmiri food will be exhibited here and “tourists will get to feel the true essence of Kashmir,” Jameel Ahmad, another customer, said.
Special features of the restaurant include ethnic foods like harissa, a special meat preparation with some resemblance to African spice mix. Mujje te gaade, a mixed dish of radish and fish, ‘nader te gaade’; and a mixed dish of lotus stem and fish are among other delicacies.
Traditional salted tea and sweet hot drink famously known as ‘zafrani kehwa’ is also available for the locals and tourists.
The venue also hosts stalls of local handicrafts and pottery, which are on display as well as for purchase.
Supplementing this ambience is a blend of Kashmiri music for an authentic feel of local art, culture and lifestyle to the visitors.
“I feel very happy to visit this place. I have performed at several such tourist places early in life.
“After so many years, this step by the tourism department is commendable. It will promote local culture, food and music. It’s a great step,” Abdul Gaffar Kanihami, a renowned Kashmiri folk singer, said.
Reviving Kashmiri food and culture seems to be a hit with the locals.
This story previously appeared in IND News – edited by Shalini Singh for publication.