Dining Out Magazine

Safapore: Authentic Kashmiri Pandit Food Home Delivered

By Shibanibawa

Years ago, when my husband and I were asked individually about 'the one dish that we could eat daily for the rest of our lives' our unanimous response was: 'Rogan Josh from the Kauls' home'. And we were not the only ones who felt so passionately about it! We would typically get to relish this succulent meat at least once a month, but it was clearly not enough. And now that the family has finally been persuaded by their friends and family to start catering, I personally am thrilled!

The Kauls hail from Safapore, a town on the banks of Manas Bal, a pristine lake that is much cleaner than the touristy Dal. I remember a shikara ride down Manas Bal a few years ago with the Kauls, while it was abundant with lotuses in different stages of bloom, and hearing stories of a happy childhood spent swimming in the lake, catching fish, and enjoying a lifestyle that revolved around different meals of the day. The stories were steeped in nostalgia and a vivid recollection of a life before the Kashmiri Pandits left their home-state. The culture, customs and cuisine, however, have been largely kept alive, no matter in which part of the world the family scattered to. To this day, traditional food in their household is cooked with various ingredients and spices sourced from Kashmir.

Even though I am much too familiar with this food, I decided to taste the experience of having it home delivered. So one Sunday evening, my parcel from Safapore arrived in a beautiful bag designed with the symbolic lotus, containing six boxes neatly labeled with the contents: rogan josh, kabargah, lal masch, peela paneer, dum aloo and tsok wangun. All the dishes can be ordered in packs of 500 g or 1 kg of meat. So the minimum order of Rs 3,000 is sufficient for 4-5 people and could typically include 2 non-vegetarian and 3 vegetarian dishes.

Other than the kabargah, everything else is ready to eat. Kabargah is essentially mutton chops and ribs that are simmered in milk and spices and finally deep fried. This last step of frying is required to be done just before eating. Although the label clearly states that it should be fried for 5-6 minutes on each side on a slow flame I ended up frying it on a high flame. Although it became darker than it ideally should, the flavour was spot on, with the tender meat just melting off the bone. I can say the same about the Rogan Josh that is their signature dish. The extremely aromatic curry contains Kashmiri chillies and saunf amongst other things, and the robust flavour permeates the meat beautifully. Perhaps that is why the dish doesn't contain too much curry and actually pairs very well with steamed rice. However, if you like maybe you can request for some extra curry to be added to the dish. Although the pieces are very bony, the meat comes off so easily making it suitable for people who don't usually like meat on the bone. But if you still prefer something boneless, go for the Lal Masch. These minced mutton kebabs are cooked in a spicier red curry. For something non-spicy, try the Yakhni Masch which is cooked in a milk broth made rich with spices like cinnamon.

The menu is limited overall, but equal importance is given to vegetarian fare as well. There is the ubiquitous Dum Aloo and Haaq Saag without which a Kashmiri meal is never complete. But for those who'd like to venture further I would highly recommend the Peela Paneer and Tsok Wangun. While the former is almost self-explanatory, the latter is popularly known as khatte baingan. These Kashmiri aubergines are pink in colour with unique flavour and texture that lends itself beautifully to the spicy, tangy sauce.

As I am sharing this delicious experience with you, I am only glad that the weekend is here and we can order this gorgeous meal all over again.

Pricing: Vegetarian: Rs 300 onwards; Non vegetarian: Rs 800 onwards. Minimum Order Rs 3,000.

Timings: Delivery only on weekends, at least a day's notice required.


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