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Home > News > Report

Kashmiri chefs rein in taste buds

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | August 10, 2004 15:19 IST

Traditional Kashmiri chefs have imposed a 'novel prohibitory order' of their own restricting the number of dishes to seven served during the fa mous Kashmiri feasts called the Wazwan.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had tried to restrict the quantity of food cooked at marriages and number of guests, but had to withdraw the guest control order under tremendous public resentment.

A Cabinet sub-committee was later constituted to propose a more rational guest control law, which the Mufti government intends to enforce strictly as the marriage season has already started in Kashmir.

A mind-boggling list of local dishes based mostly on mutton and chicken is served during social functions in Kashmir, which resemble the historic medieval feasts.

The legendary Kashmir Wazwan is commonly believed to have travelled from Iran to the valley.

The heavily spiced dishes, include mouth watering delicacies like Kabab, Rogan Josh, Rista, Ghostaba and Tabak Maz to name only a few.

Many are its fans. The first prime minister late Jawaharlal Nehru was a fan of the Kashmir Wazwan, which is now served in many restaurants outside Kashmir.

The consumption of mutton at marriage ceremonies has been increasing sharply for last some years and had assumed a dubious social status in the valley.

The more mutton is cooked the higher one's status. This perception has triggered a race among the rich to use the maximum amount of mutton at marriage ceremonies, which could range from an average of 300 kgs to the extreme 1200 kgs per serving.

The control on the number of dishes imposed by chefs is attracting largescale support from the people and has almost stymied the task of the Cabinet sub-committee.

The sub-committee was constituted after the state Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) ministry put into force a nearly 50-year-old obsolete guest control order in the state triggering largescale protests from all walks of life in the state.

The Essential Commodities Act (ECA), 1955 empowers the state government to 'regulate the number of guests and menu at any marriage function in the state'.

Those violating the law could be sentenced to three years imprisonment.

The much repeated question put to the authorities was how can a 1955 guest control order enforced in a situation marked by shortage of food items be relevant in 2004 when the situation is quite opposite.

The chefs' dish control proposal limits the famous Kashmir Wazwan to seven courses from a whopping 30 courses.

The Anjumane Ashpazani Kashmir (Union of Kashmir Chefs) has issued instructions to all its members to adhere to seven dish recipe and warned them of 'excommunication from the union in case of any breach'.

"We have formed squads to enforce the dish control by visiting households holding marriage ceremonies and other functions in the valley," Haji Ghulam Nabi, president of the union, told

"It seems that this society friendly voluntary act of the chefs will to a great extent help in solving the problem of heavy consumption at marriage ceremonies in Kashmir," admits a state official.

More reports from Jammu and Kashmir
Read about: The Road to Peace | Kargil Crisis

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