Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sipping Kahwa in Kashmir

Samovar
Kashmiri Kahwa is probably of Turkish origins.
The word 'coffee' is a modified form of the Turkish word 'kahveh' which is derived from the Arabic word Kahwa (meaning: 'exiting the spirit').

Did you know that Almonds are not always the main ingredient in a Kahwa?
Here’s some more related brew from an old article that appeared in The Hindu.

Okay, so what’s the relation between Turkey and Kashmir?

We must remember that Kashmir one of the important trading centre along the Silk Route. A lot more than just goods were exchanged there. Kahwa is probably the outcome of one of these exchanges.
Why do we Pandits drink this Muslim poison of choice and apparently, we enjoy it immensely ?
What type of a socio-religious mixture was brewing in Kashmir?
Found this in an old Edition of an online Kp magazine.

Tea:
Kashmiris must have been one of the earliest addicts to this brew in the subcontinent. Tea, as we know today was introduced by the British tea companies in India. But Kashmiris used to get their stuff long before that from China through Tibet. Later, it used to be imported from Shungla via Bombay. That is why, in Kashmir it is still called Bombay Chai. But this tea is the green untreated variety of tea. Its brew is called Kahwa. No milk is added to it. It is sweetened with sugar. Often, Dalchini (cinnamon), Elaichi (cardamom), Badam (almonds) and sometimes a little Kesar (saffron) are added to it to give taste and flavour.
The tea taken with salt and milk, is called Sheeri Chai (perhaps adaptation from Ladakh and Tibet). It is very popular among Muslims and to an extent among Hindus. Hindus however prefer Kahwa to Sheer Chai
Tea is prepared in a special vessel called Samawar. It is a pot in which tea is made by burning charcoal in the small chimney at its centre, having a seive at the bottom. The ash is collected in the space below the seive. There is a nozzled outlet for pouring the tea, hot into the cup. Russians also have a Samowar, but it slightly differs in looks. Hindus used to take tea in a bronze cup called Khos, while Muslims prefer Chinpyala, the cup made of china clay. The Samawar used by Muslims is made of copper while that used by Hindus is made of brass.
Hindus eat their food in a Thal, which earlier used to be of bronze. Muslims prefer copper bowl (with tin lining). At feasts, Muslims ( eat from a single plate and ) are served four persons in one big copper plate called Traami.”
We adapted and personalized the culture of other civilizations that crisscrossed Kashmir. Yet, we Pandits maintained an identity of our own by our unique habits and customs. As we observed, we distinguished ourselves from the Kashmiri Muslims through slight changes in our habits and age-old customs. That’s how we survived through constant adaptation.

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Ways to enjoy Kahwa:

dalcheen kahwa (cinnamon tea): Most common flavor of this brew.

noon chai (salt tea): this is same as
Sheer chai. Gets its pinkish color from baking soda ( called phul in kashmir. pherni is usually added while drinking.

zaffarn kahwa (Saffon tea): Usually gets served in tourist guest houses :)

damm tueth: Kahwa with lemon squashed in.

Besides these, black pepper Kahwa is thought to be good for sour throat.

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