Recipes: Kashmiri Dahl Curry and Kashmiri Pulao Rice
Kashmiri Dahl Curry
1 cup red kidney beans
½ tsp turmeric
2-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
3 garlic cloves (or 1 tsp powder)
2-inch piece fresh garlic (or 1 tsp powder)
1 ½ Tbs oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seends
2 dried chilies
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp mango powder
½ tsp cayenne
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp salt
Place soaked beans in medium pan and cover with 3 cups of water. Crush cinnamon stick, cardamom, garlic, and ginger in pestle and mortar or blender and add to the bean mixture.
Heat oil in skillet. When hot add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and dried chilies. Add the remainder of the spices and stir for 20 seconds. Add the tomato and salt and simmer until texture is thick.
Add the beans to the tomato and spice mixture. Stir well and add additional cream to thicken until desired consistency.
Kashmiri Pulao Rice
Basmati rice: 1 cup
Water: 1/1/2 cups
Salt: ½ tsp
Turmeric: 1 tsp
Cinnamon stick: 3-inch piece
Coriander seeds: 1 tsp
Cardamom pods: 2
½ cup cashews
Medium Onion: diced
Chili Powder: 1 tsp
Paprika: ½ tsp
Optional: 8 strands saffron
Add rice, water, salt, and turmeric to medium saucepan and cook, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes.
Add dry roast cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, cardamom, and cashews for two minutes over medium heat. Remove and crush into powder (mortar and pestle or blender). Add oil, onions, blended spice/cashew powder, chili powder, and paprika and sauté for 2 minutes. Add mixture to rice and stir thoroughly. Garnish with coriander leaves (cilantro).
5 May 2014
Today has been an incredible day and we have spent it entirely in the car and on the train. We drove through the Sivalik Mountains. We left Srinagar at 5 this morning and drove for 7 hours through the beautiful mountains to Jammu. I never new that there were such beautiful mountains out there in the world. As we drove through the mountain ranges we the roads were filled with gypsies and shepherds bringing moving their animals. There were horses, cows, goats, and sheep being herded up and down the mountainsides. It was such a sight to see the men and women dressed in colorful clothing with their animals who also were dressed up in colorful décor. The streets were lined with street vendors selling clothing, food, and everything in between. The street food in India is delicious and what is even better is that you eat it with your hands!
Today we experienced many “firsts” (we did things for the first time today). The first thing we did was go to the bathroom in a “squatter”. “Squatters” are bathrooms in which there is no toilet paper, no toilet, and usually no door. All there is are three walls, and a hole in the ground. Usually there are several “squatters” next to each other in a line. Out front is a row of small hoses and a trough in which people can wash their hands. Following our experience with the Indian restrooms, we had our real Indian street food experience.
We drove the entire way from Srinagar to Jammu with our Kashmiri driver who cannot even speak English. He arranged for us to stop and eat lunch at a little roadside stand on our way to Jammu. We were served curry and rice, which is typical here in India. The term curry just stands for a mixture of foods and spices that create a certain flavor. They have vegetable curry, spicy curry, lamb curry, Kashmiri curry, etc… Today they served a bean curry and a beef curry. They serve all their food on metal plates and all their drinks in metal cups. Typically there are no forks and spoons that are used during the meal, just the right hand. You create a scoop out of the fingers on your right hand and use it to shovel the rice and curry that you mix on your plate, into your mouth. It was so fun to be able to eat with my hands and have it be completely socially acceptable! Although it sounds like there are no rules when it comes to the dinner table, there is one. If you want to avoid be stared at by all the locals, only use your right hand to eat because your left hand you use for something else (do to the lack of toilet paper in the bathrooms).
The “jeep” ride from Srinagar (although the jeep was simply a car) was absolutely beautiful. The safety of the car, driver, and road conditions were all a bit skeptical—which made it even more of an adventure. The cars in India have absolutely no inner or outer protection. They are simply metal frames positioned around an engine with the sole purpose of getting you place to place. Our driver (as with EVERY driver in India) drives down the middle of the road, playing chicken with all the cars that zoom on by. There are no speed limits here, no highway patrol, and no sanity when it comes to driving. The roads are in terrible conditions, with a pothole every 20-30 seconds. We finally came to the conclusion that there is no purpose in even wearing a seatbelt because it would do no good in such an insane car ride. While in Kashmiri it was very obvious that it was an isolated state from the rest of India. The state is completely Muslim and they do not acknowledge being a part of India in any way, shape, or form. They shut off all cell phone service and wifi access for those using “Indian” mobile devices, and fill their streets full of military to patrol everything that goes on within the city. It was election week this week, so they set curfew at 7pm so that people must go back to their homes and stay out of trouble. We were not allowed to leave our little tourist bubble until we were escorted out…it was quite the experience. Kashmiri has had problems with Pakistan in the past, offering another reason why their military was so strong. Pakistan believes that Kashmiri should be a part of its country while India holds on to it as strongly as it can. On our way out of Kashmiri we passed many armed militia lining the roads. At one point, I felt like I was driving into a war zone, a feeling that I never hope to feel again. This experience made me eternally grateful for all those who have the courage to choose to serve our country. We passed through several security checkpoints, one in which we had to get out of the car, show our passports, and answer a few questions before we were able to advance forward. Kashmiri is a beautiful place and very well guarded. That being said, it is a place that I would love to go back again to again someday and explore a few of the other beautiful areas and do some trekking in the Himalayas.
Once we arrived in Jammu, after our 7 hour car ride, we went straight to the train station to board our train to Amritsar. That is where I am now, sitting on the train and having a blast with all the locals who want to talk India with us all day long. Since being in Europe I have forgotten just how much I love to ride in trains. Obviously the Indian railways are not as clean or spacious as those in Europe, but that makes it more fun. You are forced to sit right next to other people that you have never met before in your life. I am going to look forward to every train ride that we have the remainder of this trip. It is fun to hear the mixture of Hindi and Indian language being spoken all across the train coach, and see the beautiful colors of the clothing and bedding that locals from all across Indian have brought with them on their journey to a new destination.
I have quickly realized that our one-month in India is only going to give us a glimpse of what India is like. This country is so vast and different region to region that it would take a lifetime to even see a fraction of it. It hasn’t even been one week and I have already fallen in love with this country. I will be back soon and many more times after that to experience as much of it as I can. We have only been to 2 regions in India yet I feel like I have seen a whole new world… (no pun intended).
We had the best time in Srinagar and were able to see many incredible things. The funny thing too is that when we told people on train where we had been and how beautiful it was, they told us a list of places that are even more beautiful in the Kashmiri region. I guess that the beauty of India only gets richer and richer the more places you go and the more you learn about the people, culture, and regions. Fayaz, Ramee, and Shilee were three of the people who took care of us as we stayed in our beautiful little houseboat on the shore of lake dal.
We saw elephants today! They were crossing the river over which our train was crossing. I never thought I would see elephants just roaming in the wild. The things that happen in India are absolutely crazy…
It is interesting how much the way you conduct your life changes when you go to a new place. In India the way women dress is much different than the rest of the world. You do not show your legs, and you cover up as much of your chest and shoulders as possible. I never thought I would feel immodest wearing a knee length skirt, but here I definitely do. Fortunately I brought a couple pair of leggings to wear underneath my skirts until I find just the right Indian textile to make into a skirt or a sari. I never realized just how much I would want longer skirts and lighter shirts in India. Traveling here (as well as many Middle Eastern countries) is much different than traveling to many other areas in the world. You have to understand the religion of the people to understand their culture better. This has been a fin challenge for me as I have traveled through India. Whether Muslim, Hindi, Sikh, Jain, or Christian, I have met the most amazing people who have already made my experience in India one that I will never forget.