Writes… Abdul Wajid
Chillai Kalaan, the harshest winter period of Kashmir has commenced just a week ago and with that the winter phobia has engulfed us all. Shortage of essentials, power cuts, water scarcity and the shivering cold itself troubles people like anything. Excluding the opinion of the snow-loving tourists pouring into Kashmir, winter in Kashmir is never a pleasing moment particularly for the riffraff Kashmiris whose enjoying fervor gets lost somewhere in the cold snap.
Despite of this gloominess, the winter in Kashmir has some delights attributed to it as well. And among such wintery delights, the one that rules the roast is the mouth-watering cuisine called Hariśśa.
Hariśśa is a special non-vegetarian cuisine that is prepared by heating meat with uncooked rice continually for hours until the meat renders in the form of a paste tender for teeth. It takes no t less than any Herculean effort plus myriad time to stir the contents continuously for hours that makes Hariśśa such a darling delight to eat in winters. Once the broth is formed it is garnished with Desi ghee tangled with some Kashmiri spices resulting in a fascinatingly appealing aroma that’s enough to work like some magical elixir to attract its affectionate fans.
Hariśśa is commonly consumed along with Kashmiri bread called “Kander Czout”. This gives the combo a unique identity. In addition the breakfast time is considered as the most fitting time to have Hariśśa so that the stomach remains satisfied for the whole frosty day.
Many of the devotees of Hariśśa prepare it at their homes where as there are some special shops called “Hariśśa Ghar” that are dedicated explicitly for catering of Hariśśa. By and large the topnotch “Hariśśa Ghar” is found in Srinagar in popular places like Maisuma and Ali Kadal. Apart from Srinagar I doubt if it is known in any other district of Kashmir (please excuse me if I my opinion is incorrect).
These shops are not like some appealing fancy restaurants with pompous decorations rather these are simply dark, gloomy and less-ventilated rooms that are all the time insanely crowded by its admirers particularly in early morning hours. The ironic part about these “Hariśśa Ghar” is that they are exclusively visible in winters and rarely will you find any shop in the sunny times. I wonder what these people do the rest of the year. I reason preparing for next year’s Hariśśa…..Ha-ha.
The origin of Hariśśa in Kashmir is mostly dedicated to the central Asia particularly Iran. Some experts are of the opinion that the Kashmiris were greatly influenced by the cultures which arrived with the invasion of Kashmir from central Asia, Persia and Afghanistan. This sphere of influence reshaped the art, custom, rituals, belief and mainly the food-culture of Kashmir from time to time. And thus we got the blessing in the form of flavorsome delight, now known to us as Hariśśa.
Hariśśa has some medical benefits dedicated to it as well. Having the hot Hariśśa relieves any chance of hypothermia in harsh winters. It is also highly appetizing for the stomach and thus a serves as a heavy dish to have in a brunch.
Author: Abdul Wajid Parray.
Engineering student at Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra Haryana.
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