The people of Kashmir live in the northernmost area of the Indian subcontinent. The area is maintained by three countries – India, Pakistan, and China.
Because of this rich history and disputed territories, the culinary culture of Kashmir is as unique and diverse as the people.
Kashmir is a mountainous area in northwestern India. Its lush, green valleys and mountains attract tourists year after year. The region was once a part of Pakistan, until both countries became independent in 1947. Since then, it’s been disputed between the two nations.
Nowadays, Kashmiris live peacefully alongside Indians who call themselves Kashmiris.
If you travel to this region, you need to fully experience the drinks in the area to truly taste the flavors of Kashmir.
Are you a fan of local drinks? In India, there aren’t very many iconic beverages that define an identity or region. The ones that exist are usually regional variations of popular Indian desserts or milkshakes.
Below are our suggestions to go on your list!
1. Kashmiri Chai
Also known as noon chai or pink tea, kashmiri chai is a delicacy in this area of the world. We’ve added a link above to Honest Food Talks as their recipes for this beverage are detailed and authentic.
Kashmiri chai or kashmiri tea is a very popular drink in India. The origin of this beverage dates back to the Mughal Empire during the 18th century. According to historians, the British had brought Indian black tea from China to England in 1733. However, they didn’t call their version of black tea English tea. Instead, they called it Chinese tea because they thought it was similar to the Chinese original. However, later on, the name got changed to English Tea due to its popularity in Great Britain. This eventually evolved into the word ‘tea’ today.
The drink should be both smooth and spicy, but can be instantly recognized by its bright pink color.
This color comes from the Kashmiri green tea leaves, along with spices such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise. As you can tell from this mini-ingredient list, the flavor is savory and almost wintery.
The tea leaves create a floral taste, but overall the smoothness and nuttiness from the main ingredients shine through the strongest.
This drink has become quite famous over the years, especially because of its health benefits. Do you know why? It contains antioxidants and flavonoids, which act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents. These substances prevent cell death and slow down the aging process. Furthermore, they assist the body in fighting against pathogens and infections and improve immunity.
Kahwah is written in multiple ways. You might find it spelled like qehwa, kahwah, or kehwa. It is a sweet drink with a savory aftertaste, created by its main ingredients of green tea leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron mixed with honey or sugar.
Don’t be surprised to see almonds or walnuts stewing in the pot too, as these nuts help to create an earthy flavor.
Kahwa is normally prepared by using a copper kettle called a samovar. This contraption is originally Russian and is often well decorated with delicate carvings. To boil the water, coals are added to the base of the kettle and controlled to keep the tea at a balanced temperature.
Of course, the locals may use a more modern kettle to boil their water, but not all areas allow the use of electric samovars.
Normally this tea is served without milk, however, it is sometimes added to help the sick and elderly.
3. Kandh Sharbat
This next drink we want to share with you is served chilled. To most Western people, the concept of a Kandh Sharbat will be completely unexpected and hard to visualize, but if you’ve had bubble tea before, you’ll be more prepared.
It is believed that the preparation method originated with Persian cooks centuries ago. They created sweet dishes using sugar syrup and water. In time, people added spices and herbs to enhance the taste of these desserts. Today, kandha sharbat recipe uses milk instead of sugar syrup and cinnamon instead of cardamom.
A variety of fruits and vegetables are used to prepare kandha sharbat depending on the region. For example, in Kashmir, apples are used. Another variation comes from Sindh, Pakistan, where they use green mangoes. You can also prepare kandha sharbats with different dairy products like yoghurt, cream cheese, butter, and curd.
Kandh Sharbat is a creamy chilled drink with soaked sabza seeds mixed inside. Some people also like to add flakes or shards of coconut on top, to add to the sweet flavors. The texture is hard to describe, but imagine drinking a cold drink while eating a gummy bear.
In reality, the best way to figure out if you like the unusual texture is to try it for yourself!
4. Kesar Doodh
Also known as Saffron Milk, Kesar Doodh is a milky drink filled with nuts and fruits. It can be served hot or cold and still continue the rich flavors to keep the taste authentic.
The main ingredients you’ll find are milk, chironji, dates, poppy seeds, pistachios, cashew nuts, almonds, and of course saffron.
To create the beverage you simply simmer these ingredients together, stir and serve after 5 minutes.
You might find the texture of nuts in your drink unusual at first, but the flavors that come with this infusion of ingredients will win you over instantly.
Don’t strain the beverage before serving it, as part of the delight is eating the nuts and dates. Some restaurants will serve this drink with silvered nuts or dried rose petals as a garnish.
The health benefits of Kesar Doodh include strengthening immunity, improving digestion, and regulating blood pressure. There are two ways to consume kesar doodh – raw or cooked. Raw is considered healthier because it contains beneficial properties such as vitamin C. On the other hand, the cooked version has fewer antioxidants. If you want to try out kesar doodh, they come in various recipes from curry to milkshakes.
Buttermilk wasn’t always named by this term. It was originally called lassi by the South Asian region. As time has developed Lassi has now been associated with a yogurt-based drink.
Lassis originated in India and they are basically yogurt shakes served chilled and spiced. They are mostly drunk during summers and hot weathers but nowadays they are loved worldwide. A perfect lassi has a thick consistency and smooth taste. The secret behind its amazing flavor lies in the ingredients that go into making it.
Made of water, yogurt, cumin, and mint leaves, you blend this beverage to create the smooth texture of buttermilk. Some people will use cardamom instead of cumin, however, any wintery spice will work well with the light flavors of yogurt.
Generally speaking, there are three popular variations of the Lassi – sweet, salted, and Bhang.
The sweet version will likely contain sugar, lemon, strawberries, or fruit juices. It ends up tasting more like a milkshake. The salted version is the most common and uses less yogurt than tradition dictates, to allow the salt to shine through. The Bhang Lassi, however, is made by infusing cannabis into the liquid.
Although lassis are typically served chilled, they also come in warm varieties, too. In addition to being delicious, they are also low in calories and fat. The healthiest type of lassi contains less than 15% fat and has no added sugars.
The diverse flavors in Kashmiri drinks should be tried at least once in your lifetime. The way this community uses nuts and spices in their beverages is astounding and creates a combination of indescribable flavors.