CHENNAI: After 20 years in this profession, if I dig back to where it all started, it always reminds me of my dad and his innumerable skills and techniques. Being a descendent of Waza family, who have always been into Wazwan cooking for generations, the knowledge of cooking is in my DNA. Cooking for Wazwan, which usually happens from May to September (considered as marriage season in Kashmir), has always been a family business.
I started cooking when I was 14 and with time, I learnt various cuisines but Kashmiri has been my passion. I used to help my dad run the family restaurant called Choncha Food until the responsibility fell into my hands, when he passed away two years after the restaurant was inaugurated, leaving behind all his recipes. At 28, I was challenged to create as many dishes as possible with the available ingredients and I ended up creating 56. Taking a step further, I opened my own Choncha Manufacturing Company which mainly transports canned food to various other states in India and abroad.
Coming back to Wazwan, there are basically 33 dishes in the menu but I can create 100 varieties out of those. The important dishes in a Wazwan include Rista, Goshtaba (hot selection), tabak maaz (appetizer), dum aaloo and haak saag. The Wazwan dishes are usually spicy and that spice factor comes from many ingredients that includes onion, mainly found in Kashmir, whose calorie power is way more than the ones available in other places. Another ingredient is called the Mawal (cockscomb flower) for the bright red color and aroma and the hot taste of the dishes.
Putting to use my years of research and experience, I was able to create an ingredient called the Liquid Spice. Keeping in mind the uniqueness of Kashmiri flavours, which is possible only if the ingredients are grown in Kashmir, and the general public’s inability to visit restaurants all the time, I came up with this innovation of mine. Now, all people need to do is add up all the ingredients of the dish to get the exact essence of Kashmir. The best part about it is that it has a shelf life of two years.
My favourite dish is Tabak Maaz which I enjoy cooking and eating innumerable times as I am big fan of crispy food. What we cook at home every day is fish, haak saag and Nadru (lotus stem). Nadru was my father’s favorite dish.
When I cook, I want my customers to relish the Kashmiri cuisine in their original colour and flavor, even by cooking in their own kitchen. An ideal chef should be able to read the minds of the customers and satisfy their expectations through their food.food. Apart from that, the food that we cook on a daily basis at home includes fish, haak saag and Nadru (lotus stem). Nadru was my father’s favorite dish. When I cook, I feel that the simple mantra that keeps me going is the thought that the customer should relish Kashmiri cuisine still distant from Kashmir
By the end of the day, I want my customers to relish the Kashmiri cuisine in their original colour and flavor, even by cooking in their own kitchen. An ideal chef should be able to read the minds of the customers and satisfy their expectations through their food.