Born in Anantnag, Rajni Jinsi learned the intricacies of Kashmiri cooking under the watchful eyes of her mother. The soft spoken and charming lady fuelled her passion for the cuisine by cooking Kashmiri Pandit delicacies for family and friends in the community. Little would this home chef have realised that a few years hence, she would be frequently travelling cross country and collaborating with various hotels to promote the same cuisine.
Jinsi has curated the menu for Koushur Saal at the Holiday Inn, Mayur Vihar, New Delhi which in a way, is a grand celebration of Kashmiri pandit cuisine. From helping out with shopping for various ingredients to hand holding the Chefs at the hotel, she has played an active part at all levels and I was thrilled to meet her and taste the various delicacies on offer from the elaborate buffet recently.
We started with the Kabargah (fried lamb ribs) from the live cooking station and absolutely loved the preparation. Balanced and flavourful, I devoured it with akhrot chutney. Jinsi insisted that I try the Kabargah with Modhur pulao (a sweet rice preparation) and I actually loved the contrast of savoury and sweet. The Nadru tikki further revved up my appetite and I was more than ready to dig into the variety of rich and aromatic dishes in the buffet.
I tasted almost all the preparations from the Hokh Oluv (dry cooked new potato with spices), Nadru Yakhni, Vangun Hachi, Mats Gund (minced lamb braised with Kashmiri spices), to Thula Zumbur (Egg curry) and Dam Oluv. Onion and garlic are not used in any of these preparations and yet every dish had a unique aromatic and soulful character.
Heeng (asafoetida), turmeric, saffron, cardamom and yoghurt play an important part in most of the dishes but the taste profile remains fairly balanced. While the flavours and textures of all the dishes were brilliant, the Nadru Yakhni and Vangun Hachi stole my heart. The Vangun hachi is made with sun dried eggplant and was truly unique. You also have a bread counter where you can get your hands around some Girda and Sheermal.
The meal was culminated with a bowl of phirni and shufta and we couldn’t have asked for a sweeter ending. All in all, we had a lovely evening. Rajni Jinsi is a magician and her preparations would leave you spellbound. Do check out Koushur Saal if you get an opportunity. A big shout out to Holiday Inn hotel and IHG as well for giving home chefs like Jinsi a platform to showcase their talent.
In a nutshell
What : Koushur Saal (Food Festival)
When : 1st Mar 2019 to 10th Mar 2019
Where : Cafe on 3, Holiday Inn, Mayur Vihar, New Delhi
Buffet cost : INR 1900++ per person
Timings : 7 PM to 11 PM (Only dinner)