by Shyam Rani Kilam and S. S. Kaul Kilam
Kashmir it is said that the food should both taste and look good. Its aroma
must be appetizing. Success of a meal lies in its appeal to the eyes, nose
and then the tongue.
In big Kashmiri dinners, where a hundred to five hundred people are usually invited, on the occasion of weddings and festivals etc., the food is served to the guests who are seated on carpeted floors, which are sometimes covered with Chandanis (White Sheets). These dinners are served in big halls, or under decorated Shamiyane (Canopies), which are well illuminated, and air conditioned, if necessary, by means of fans or stoves or electric heaters, according to the needs of the season.
Big metallic plates, generally made of stainless steel nowadays, are used for eating. Eating with right hand fingers and thumb is common. Service is usually done by cooks, friends and family members. To relish the Dishes individually, and make the cuisine an enjoyable one, different preparations are not mixed while eating, and service is done in a somewhat course-wise style. Thereby each Dish, with its particular flavour and delicacy, is relished and appreciated separately at a time.
Wines and liqueurs are rarely served in Dinners. Instead, Green Condimented Tea without milk, is served generally after and even before a Dinner.
Modur Polav, a sweet 'Basmati' rice Pulav cooked in clarified butter (Ghi), milk and water, along with dry fruits, saffron, spices and other condiments, is a favourite dessert of Kashmiri Pandits. Khir, Halwa, Firni, Fruit stews and Custards etc., are also served as desserts. In hot weather, Kulfi, Ice-creams or some other sweets are also prevelant nowadays.
To round off, a dinner or a feast, a condimented and scented Betel leaf (Pan) is always welcome Tambul, as it is called in Sanskrit, is always offered even to Deities in Puja etc. Of course it is the relisher and the appreciater of good food preparations, who, as a guest, lends colour to a good feast. Usually, once a person joins a good Kashmiri feast, he or she never forgets it.
Utensils For Serving Meals and Processing of Foods
1. 'Dul', 'Dulij', 'Var', 'Chod', and 'Tagaer',- Baked clay, milk, curd etc., Containers.
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