Kashmiri Pandits are the oldest inhabitants of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Through the years many Hindus migrated into the region from other parts of north India. These Kashmiri Hindus have their own distinctive ethnic culture. This defines their lifestyle and cuisine. Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is exquisite and extensive and includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
Kashmiri Pandits introduced the use of yoghurt, asafetida and turmeric powder to Indian cuisine. Unlike Kashmiri Muslims, they usually do not use egg, chicken, garlic, onions and tomatoes.
Vegetarian dishes in the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine include a variety of rich curry dishes with cottage cheese and a variety of vegetables. Aubergine, potato, lotus stem, spinach, turnip and kidney beans are some of the vegetables used. Popular vegetarian Kashmiri Pandit dishes are:
- Dum Aloo (potato roasted with yoghurt and spices)
- Nadier Palak (a combination of lotus stem and spinach)
- Rajmah (kidney beans prepared with a variety of spices and vegetables)
- Veth Tsaman (a cottage cheese preparation)
- Tsoek Vaingan (sour, tangy and spicy aubergines)
Non-vegetarian Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is similar to its Muslim counterpart. But the taste is different because of the use of more yoghurt. Also onions, garlic and eggs are not used. Mutton and fish are mostly used to prepare non-vegetarian dishes. The meat is first marinated in yoghurt and cooked on low heat for a long period to make it tender. There seems to be an Awadhi influence in the meat preparing technique. Some popular non-vegetarian Kashmiri Pandit dishes are:
- Methi Qeema (minced mutton mixed with fenugreek)
- Kabargah (fried ribs of lamb)
- Rogan Josh (lamb curry with yoghurt and spices)
- Tsoek Tsarvan (kidney or liver of lamb cooked delicately with assorted spices)
- Syun Aloo (spicy potato and meat preparation)
Food Grains - Rice and wheat is the staple diet of a Kashmiri Pandit family. Sarvari and Bazbatta are rice based dishes. Khameeri Puri is popular bread made of wheat in Kashmiri Pandit cuisine.