A Taste of Kashmir

by BTM

Tue, 14 November 2023

Bahrain’s award-winning Indian restaurant, Jashan, is hosting a special ‘Flavours of Kashmir’ festival this week, and Kristian Harrison checked it out.

This month, our quest for a delectable lunch saw us sauntering into Wyndham Garden Manama, located in Juffair, making our way to the hotel’s Indian restaurant – Jashan. However, this was Jashan with a twist. A team of ‘Wazwan’ chefs led by Rayees Khan has curated a multi-course menu in a festival of Kashmiri food.

According to Chef Khan, Kashmiri cuisine boasts a very high degree of sophistication with its distinct flavours and cooking techniques and is not readily available in Bahrain.

“Wazwan is a multi-course Kashmiri meal, usually prepared at weddings and on other festive occasions. Most of the dishes are meat-based using lamb or chicken.

“The wazas are trained for years to learn the art of making the right cuts and grounding the meat to perfection, which is what we are recreating here,” he explained.

“The meat is tenderised slowly using wooden mallets and all the spices are ground by hand using a mortar and pestle to retain the aromas and flavours,” added Chef Rayees who comes from a long line of Kashmiri wazas who have been dishing out delicacies for generations.

“There is nothing quite like Kashmiri food with its combination of spices and flavours, it truly is wonderful,” he added.

As for the restaurant itself, it’s easy to see why it has won so many awards in the Kingdom. Jashan is a Hindi word translates to ‘celebration’, and this place is truly a celebration of food. The restaurant’s décor is opulent with intricate designs, tapestry, embroidery and lanterns which contribute to the restaurant’s warm ambience.

The special menu comprises of special Kashmiri dishes starting with soups, known as shorba in Kashmiri. I plumped for the ‘Bhune Tamater Ka Shorba’, a broth of smoky tomato flavoured with coriander which was an incredible combination of delectable sweetness but tongue-tingling spice. What a way to start!

There was a plethora of appetisers or starters, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, with ‘Murgh Tujj’ – barbecued chicken chunks marinated with Kashmiri spices – being my personal favourite. I also tried the Prawn Kanti, stir-fried prawns with onions and tomatoes along-side Nadru kebab – Lotus stem patties – as one of the unique vegetarian dishes.

The curry that stood out the most was the delightful Mutton Rogan Josh ­– a traditional Kashmiri dish with cubes of extremely tender lamb in a thick and fragrant gravy. The meat is perfectly cooked so that it effortlessly break apart with a fork. This coupled with the restaurant’s fresh tandoori roti is a divine treat at lunch. For vegetarians, Khatta Wangan, a tangy tamarind based aubergine curry cooked in an iron wok, and ‘Kashmiri Rajma’, kidney beans cooked overnight in spices, ginger, garlic and a tomato rich gravy, are the must-have options.

As a huge biryani fan, I was quite excited to try the Dum Biryani. The aromatic biriyani, which is served with a side of raita, is laden with generous servings of chicken cooked in myriad spices in a traditional sealed pot. Sealing the pot ensures that the flavours of the chef’s lakhnavi spices penetrate into the basmati rice so you don’t lose any of those rich flavours. I loved that this biryani was divinely flavourful, light and fragrant but did not weigh me down in time for the dessert!

To finish off, I had the delectable Zafrani Phirni, which is essentially a saffron-flavoured rice pudding. What I liked was that it wasn’t too sweet so it was very comfortable to eat but also had the bitty texture that proper rice pudding should. A sure success!

The festival continues until Friday with all dishes available as a la carte menu.
Call 66398787 for more information and reservations.