Category Archives: Drinks

Kashmiri Saffron Milk

Kashmiri Saffron Milk

 

 

 

 

 

You know how some food memories and taste leave an indelible mark for some totally mysterious reason… Well, this saffron milk was one such experience which I had in Kashmir.

Now, I am not at all a milk person. At home, it would never occur to me to make any milk based beverages. My consumption of the white stuff is invariably in a surrogate form via yoghurt or cheese.

Among the many scenic places we visited in Kashmir was one called Aru Valley. As with many areas in that region, the valley has breathtaking and mesmerising beauty to behold.

There are several small shops selling soft drinks and snacks. It was a bit cold and I saw a sign for kesar milk (saffron milk) so impulsively ordered it instead of tea or coffee.

This turned out to be my most favourite drink in Kashmir. The milk was hot and frothy with slivers of almonds, whole cardamom, saffron strands and sugar. Sounds exotic yet simple doesn’t it?

All the ingredients are local to the area but I think it was the quality of milk which did it. Since I am not a milk aficionado I don’t know which words best describe a superlative milk drinking experience but whatever they may be would describe this saffron milk!

Sadly, I didn’t come across saffron milk anywhere else during my Kashmir stay. Perhaps one reason why it has stayed in my mind.

For anyone interested in trying it, here’s a recipe courtesy Kong-Posh. I think warm would be just as good as cold.

Saffron Milk (A Tonic For Health)

  1. Soak about 1mg of pure saffron in 3-4 teaspoonful of luke warm water and leave it for about half an hour till a concentrate of saffron is founded.
  2. Add this concentrate to a glass of 200 ml milk.
  3. Add sugar to taste along with some crushed almonds & pistachio. Serve it chilled during summer.
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Kashmiri Kahwah/Kashmiri Green Tea with Saffron

Kashmiri Kahwah

 

 

 

 

 

Now here’s one Kashmiri beverage that I definitely took to!

Kahwah is a type of green tea which includes sugar, crushed almonds and saffron.

My first taste of this yummy drink was when I checked into our hotel in Srinagar; this was their welcome drink.

Kahwah is hot, sweet and usually served in small cups. It is very commonly drunk across the region, so much so that you will find it available at small roadside stalls, on the highway/motorway, in hotels, restaurants and even houseboats on Dal Lake.

Having had this Kashmiri specialty several times during my two week stay, dare I say it, even the not-so-good concoctions were delicious! I particularly enjoyed the crushed almonds that give this tea that bit of oomph.

Here’s a recipe in case you are interested. But I am told that it only works with a particular variety of green tea from Kashmir, not the regular one.

Coming up next – the most delicious drink I had in Kashmir!

Kashmiri Noon Chai/Sheer Chai/Salted Tea

Kashmiri Noon Chai/Sheer Chai/Salted Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BIG hello to my fellow kooky cooks.

Having spent two memorable weeks digesting the sights, sounds, smells and food (but of course!)  in the Kashmir Valley, I am back.

Trying to resume earlier routine is proving to be a bit more difficult than I had anticipated, maybe because I was away for 10 days prior to the Kashmir trip and so it has been an extended away time.

Kashmir is a land blessed with abundant fresh fruits and vegetables. The valley is also well known for its nuts such as almonds, pine nuts and walnuts (fresh green walnuts dangling from trees is a usual sight throughout the region) and saffron. Since the saffron season is very short (two weeks from October to November), we couldn’t visit saffron fields. But the spice is available in abundance wherever you go.

The next few posts will be on Kashmiri beverages I sampled during my stay in Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Yusmarg.

Say hello to a new type of tea very popular among the locals: noon chai or salted tea.

For most of us, the idea of drinking tea which is salty is likely to be alien but this type of tea is very common among some parts of Asia.

The Kashmiri people I spoke to informed me that they start their morning with noon chai and drink it several times in the course of the day. One local family I became friends with said that it was not uncommon for the father to drink 5-10 cups in one sitting.

Traditionally, noon chai was prepared in a samovar although these days stove is an equally popular medium.

The tea is had at breakfast along with Kashmiri rotis (thick, spongy, round or oval shaped flat bread).

Noon chai takes longer to prepare than regular tea so once you’ve placed the order, you have to wait patiently.

The tea leaves used to make this specialty are also different from the typical black ones. They are green and grown locally (and also in Pakistan, I believe).

The tea has bicarbonate of soda added which gives it the pink colour.

I tasted noon chai in the hotel I was staying in, in Pahalgam (photo above). The best way I would describe that experience is imagine drinking a creamy, salted tea.

In my opinion, it is an acquired taste. I am afraid I didn’t take to it and could only drink a few sips. Maybe if I had tried it a few times more, I would have appreciated it more.

Also, it may partly be a psychological barrier which makes me think that tea has to be sweet.

But it is always good to get out of our comfort zone to explore new things and this was one of those adventures.

And if you ever get the opportunity to taste Kashmiri noon chai, I would definitely recommend that you try :-).