Rista – Kashmiri Cuisine

From the land of dreamers, poets, artists, emperors and saints comes a cuisine that inspires all your senses.

Modern Kashmiri cuisine  tracks its history to 15th century when Timur ( a Turco-Mongol conqueror)  invaded India which led to the migration of 1700 skilled woodcarvers, weavers, architects, calligraphers and cooks from Samarkand to the valley of Kashmir.

The descendants of these cooks, the Wazas, are the master chefs of Kashmir. Thus came an elaborate feast preparation called Wazwaan. “Waan” refers to a “shop” in Kashmiri.

Rista- Kashmiri Cuisine

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Posted in Food, Kashmir, Main dishes, Meat Dishes | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Thai curried butternut squash soup

Fall is here…you feel the nip in the air and the leaves have started to fall and form the red and gold carpet .

When I look outside it reminds me of a Faiz poem

This is the way that autumn came to the trees:

it stripped them down to the skin,

left their ebony bodies naked.

It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,

scattered them over the ground.

Anyone could trample them out of shape

undisturbed by a single moan of protest…..

…..Faiz translated ( When Autumn Came)

The most beautiful time of the year and perfect for this soup.

Thai Curried butternut squash soup

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Posted in Food, Soup | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments

Quinoa and black beans stuffed peppers

Peppers are just delicious, sweet and versatile. I had a lot growing in my garden but the crop is over now so  these were a great find at the farmers market. According to wikipidia  The bell pepper is the only member of the Capsicum genus that does not produce the  chemical that can cause a strong burning sensation when it comes in contact with your palate.


I love stuffing vegetables especially eggplants and zucchini. You can check out my eggplant recipe, you will love it. Now I am sharing my stuffed pepper recipe…a bit healthy  and vegan and protein packed.

I roast and char my corn on the cob on an open flame and remove the kernals. you are welcome to use boiled or frozen corn. The zucchini and celery is very finely chopped to the size of the corn kernels.

The black bean are from a can but I would have much preferred to soak and cook the black beans if I had the time.


I did not get much time for pictures so apologize for the lack of them.


The recipes is as easy as it can be, so here it is.

Quinoa and black beans stuffed peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 large red, yellow or orange bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 can organic black beans – drained
  • 1 cup – roasted corn kernels
  • 1 green chili – finely chopped
  • 1/2 zucchini – finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery – finely chopped
  • 1 small onion – finely chopped
  • 1 tomato – finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves for garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 handful of cilantro – finely chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Putting it together:

  • Brush the peppers with avocado oil and set aside on a baking tray
  • Saute the onions, garlic, zucchini and celery for 2-3 mins until softened. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Combine the rest of the ingredients in a  bowl and add the sauted vegetables.
  • Stuff the peppers generously
  • Bake covered for 30 mins in a 350 degree preheated oven.
  • Baked uncovered for another 10 mins raising the temperature to 375 degree.
  • Serve garnished with cilantro and lemon juice.

I am sharing this at this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Julie and Linda. Looking forward to the party.

Posted in Food, Main dishes, side dishes | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Spice Crusted Tuna with Greens and roasted vegetables

When you find perfect wild Albacore tuna steaks, you just want to come home and cook them. Cook may be a strong term for these beautiful steaks…just seared for a 1-2 minutes does the trick. Delicious, soft succulent melting with the veggies and soft boiled eggs.

crustedtuna4I wanted to bring out my basic Indian flavors of coriander, cayenne, cumin and onion seeds …and so I did with a pinch of citrusy lemon zest.

The farmers market on Saturday was a rainy affair but did bring home beets, turnips and sweet potatoes. These got roasted along with home grown carrots , avocado oil and a pinch of salt to provide a beautiful base to the Tuna.

With the French Niçoise Salad in mind the composition grew to add a couple of organic eggs ( who does not like that??) and green beans blanched in salted water.


With all these wonderful ingredients, the dressing is mild – good olive oil, whole grain mustard, wasabi and rice vinegar.


Truly a fusion dish bringing may cultures and cuisines together. Do try it and enjoy.


Shared this week at  Fiesta Friday  where the co-hosts  are Antonia @ Zoale andSandhya @ Indfused




  • Tuna steaks – pieces
  •  2 cups fresh greens ( Spring mix, kale)
  • Carrots, Turnips, Beets, sweet potato for roasting
  • 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes – halved
  • A handful of fresh green beans
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp onion seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  •  2 tablespoon Avocado or grapeseed oil
  • Pink Salt and pepper.



  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi powder
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • Pink salt


Putting it together:

  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush the coriander seeds and cumin seeds coarsely. Add onion seeds, cayenne, lemon zest salt and pepper to make a spice blend. Crust the tuna steaks with this spice blend and put aside
  • Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing and salt to taste
  • Roast the vegetables  with avocado oil in a 400 degree oven for 30 mins and cool to room temperature
  • Blanch the beans in boiling water for 3 mins and transfer to col water to stop the cooking
  • Boil eggs for 5 mins for a soft interior.
  • Assemble the greens with the roasted vegetables, quinoa, tomatoes and flavor with the dressing. Add the olives.
  • In a fry pan, add the oil and sear the tuna for 2 minutes on either side. Should still have pink in the center.
  • Slice the tuna the way you want it – in thin or chunky slices
  • Assembles the greens, beans and tuna on a plate. Top with halved eggs.  Use some leftover dressing to drizzle over and serve.


Posted in Food, Main dishes | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey meatballs

When the spiralizer came into the house many months ago, we were thrilled to create exciting salads and dishes with spiralized beets, carrots, cucumber, zucchini etc….It is a fabulous tool and easy to visualize new and exciting recipes when you look at the pretty noodles of a wide array of vegetables.

What I never really visualized, is actually using the noodles as a replacement for spaghetti noodles….never sounded that interesting. How can this plain zucchini replace full-on taste of delicious pasta?  Well, I was just plain wrong  in having resisted making this before …. I have to say I am a believer! What a fun and incredibly nutritious way to ditch the carbs and processed pasta intake and opt for this.

I can’t wait to try more recipes with the zucchini noodles but for now let me share this one


You will need a spiralizer, I bought this basic one with a stand from Amazon. To make zoodles, trim the ends of your zucchini and place between the spiked handle end and the blade, then turn the handle. The noodles will just flow out beautifully.


You can steam or saute them. I chose to saute in this recipe with a little avocado oil, salt and pepper.

Keeping with the “lean” theme, I made turkey meatballs and pan fried them in olive oil. The whole thing takes no more them 30 mins to pull together.




Turkey meatballs

  •  1 lb ground organic turkey
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 finely chopped bell pepper
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Pink salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive or avocado oil for pan frying


  • 3 yellow or green zucchini – spiralized
  • Olive or avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • Pink salt and black pepper to taste


  • 1large chopped tomato
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 5-6 mushroom chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • Olive or avocado oil
  • Pink salt and black pepper to taste


  • Combine all the ingredients for the Turkey meatballs and pan fry until brown. Do not overcook. Set aside on paper towel while you make the sauce.
  • Add oil to a pan and saute the chopped onions, mushrooms, thyme and bell pepper
  • Add garlic and tomatoes and cook for a couple of mins.
  • Add basil, lemon peel, salt and pepper and mix it around until it looks like a sauce but tomatoes are still chunky.
  • Add the meatballs and squeeze in the juice of one lemon. The meatballs are ready when heated through.
  • Add oil to a pan, when heated add thyme and garlic.
  • Add the noodles and fry for all of 1 min ( maybe 2). Salt and pepper to taste
  • Plate the noodles with the meatballs on tops and garnish with basil

Sharing this with Angie @ Fiesta Friday co-hosted Mollie @ thefrugalhausfrau and Johanne @ the frenchgardenerdishes

Also sharing on Throwback Thursday.

Posted in Food, Main dishes, Meat Dishes | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Watermelon Cucumber Gazpacho

A hot fiery day outside or a warm fall afternoon, a perfect watermelon from the farmers market, heirlooms tomatoes, serrano chilies and cucumbers from the garden.

It all calls for a perfectly chilled gazpacho smothered in watermelon.


Watermelon Gazpacho

The serrano chilies break into the sweetness, the mint heightens it to superb levels…the rest you will just have to taste to believe.

They fact that no cooking is required makes it even better. Make  sure you use good organic ingredients for this dish and it is chilled for an hour or so in the fridge before serving


I added cilantro because I love but you can leave it out if you wish.



Watermelon Cucumber Gazpacho

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 cups chopped watermelon
  • 1 large or 2  medium chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 2 serrano chilies ( use less to manage the heat)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A handful of mint – chopped
  • A handful of cilantro – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • Pink Himalayan salt – add to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Avocado, chopped watermelon and roasted corn for toppings ( optional)


Putting it together:

  • Put cucumber, tomatoes, onion and chilies in a bowl with the vinegar and let sit for 10 mins to bring out the flavors.
  • Add this to food processor with the garlic and blend until pureed. It is best to pulse to control the consistency.
  • Add watermelon, mint, cilantro, cumin, oil and salt and pulse again until the soup comes together.
  • Add lemon juice and chill for an hour.
  • Its ready! Top with roasted corn kernels, cilantro and avocado slices and serve this beautiful bowl of soup.


Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Natalie @ Kitchen, Uncorked are cohosting Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week and I am taking this to share.


Posted in Food, Lunch, Soup | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Tales of Kashmiri breads – Girda and Lavasa

Returning to Kashmir after 2 years was bitter sweet. While the city was encased in sorrow and the shroud of curfews, hartals and brutal clashes, the beauty of the land demanded to be noticed in an eerie quietness..no traffic, no business, empty streets, barbed wires and overbearing military presence made the resilient majestic land proudly stand alone in its poetic beauty.


Waking up at 4am to the sounds of that crazy rooster with no snooze button can be quite annoying but was surprisingly comforting, the crows start to chip in shortly, then gentle sounds of nearby mosques and folks getting up to bring in the unpredictable mornings.



I could not wait for morning as I have waited 2 years to eat the fabulous breakfast breads. Curfew or not the hunt for an open Kandur began the first day I arrived.

Every Kashmiri neighborhood boasts a traditional bakery known as “Kandur” serving up breads or many vareities. While the sky is still tinged with darkness they fire up wood burning ovens and start baking exquisite breads. The customers line and the  Kandur has the difficult job of serving up different orders and keeping them in sequence of who showed up first. The folks wait patiently mesmerized by the movement on the hands and knuckles on soft dough and then darting in and out of the hot oven. These breads are perfectly paired with a slab of butter and a good cup of tea particularity the salty pink tea called Nun chai. The two we feasted on were the Girda and Lavasa

IMG_4647 (1)




Girda is  a medium sized everyday bread with hand made indentations and a golden crust. Crunchy on the outside and soft white on the inside, it is a much craved addiction.

Lavasa is a thin, large, thin unleavened flat bread equally addictive and disappears fast with butter and jam.


Every morning our hunt for an open Kandur begin…through tiny streets and sometimes following people walking with bread bags in tiny alley ways as they would lead us to the nearest Kandur.  My daughter, husband and I would take the hot bread with a slab of butter and sit by the Dal Lake and savor the beauty creating a truly heavenly breakfast time.



Breaking bread with a whole new meaning…each day.


Taking my story and bread offering to Angie’s Fiesta Friday cohosted this week by the fabulous and creative bloggers Jhuls @ thenotsocreativecook and Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen.

Also sharing on Saucy Saturdays

Posted in Bread, Food, Kashmir | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Keema Baingan ( Eggplant with Minced Lamb)

This dish is inspired by my amazing and talented sister in law, Sadia Durrani who specialize in classic Old Delhi food and teaches culinary skills in India. She posted this over 2 years ago and I can’t believe it took me this long to make it. If you want to watch the original recipe from her check out this link


My vegetable garden here in Virginia is overflowing with the cutest purple eggplants that I have used in this dish. I kept a few whole just slicing them to the stem. The rest I cut in cubes with the skin on.

Minced lamb and eggplant can be found in many cuisines, my favorite is the Egyptian or Lebanese Mahshi when the eggplant is stuffed. You can find the vegetarian version in my post Mahshi Batinjaan Bi Zayt – Lebanese Stuffed Eggplant.


If you have been following my blog you know that I use a pressure cooker for a lot of my cooking. You can use a pan and increase the timing,



5-6 Purple eggplants

1 lb lamb mince

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 green chilies

2 chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp. garlic ginger paste

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chili powder

salt to taste

1 tbsp. oil ( I used avocado oil)

1 tbsp. ghee

Chopped fresh mint and cilantro for garnish

Putting it together

  • Chop the eggplants, keep a few whole just slicing in quarters until you reach the stem.
  • In a pressure cooker, add oil and the garlic. Add the minced meat.
  • Fry until it loses the pink color ( a couple of minutes)
  • Add cumin, turmeric, coriander, red chili and salt and continue frying for a few minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.
  • Add the eggplant, about 1 cup of water and pressure cook for about 5-6 mins. If use a pan, cook for about 30 mins until the eggplant is blended with the meat.
  • Add chopped green chilies and chopped mint and stir
  • Heat the ghee in a pan, brown the onions in it and pour over the dish.
  • Garnish with mint and cilantro and serve with naan or rice. A side of cucumber raita would make it perfect.


Fiesta Friday # 130 is on and I am taking this dish.  Thanks to our co-hosts this week, Aunt Juju and Petra.

Posted in Food, Lunch, Main dishes, Meat Dishes | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Kashmiri Lamb Coriander Korma- Dhaniwal Korma

Kashmiri culture and ways of preparing the food lends to its exquisite, delectable and unique taste. This is then accented by how it is served….with flavorful white rice, rich yoghurt and tart chutneys.


This particular Korma is called Dhaniwal Korma which is a beautiful medley of lamb cooked in coriander and yoghurt. It is flavored with whole spices and black pepper and not red chilies. A simple twist in preparation changes the flavor  of a korma.


The yoghurt needs to be cooked beforehand to give it the right texture. The onions needs to be fried and pureed. Other that that the recipe is pretty simple to follow



  • 2- 3 lbs of lamb
  • 2 onions ( chopped, browed and pureed into a paste)
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 4 cloves
  • 8 green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 1/2 cup yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • A bunch of fresh chopped cilantro
  • Salt to taste

Putting it together

  • Put the yoghurt and 1/2 cup water in a heavy pan. Whisk and cook on high heat until it comes to a boil. Cook on low heat, whisking on and off until the mixture has reduces to half and is smooth. This is called cooked yoghurt.
  • Wash the lamb and then boil in water for 3 minutes, drain, wash in cool water and set aside
  • Use a heavy bottomed pan, add the lamb and ghee and fry for a few minutes until the meat starts to brown
  • Add onion puree, garlicm cloves, cardomoms, turmeric, coriander powder and cooked yoghurt
  • Add salt to taste and saffron
  • Cook down until the oil separates from the gravy.
  • Add 2-3 cups of water and cook until the meat is quite tender ( takes 30-40 mins)
  • Add black pepper and fresh cilantro before serving.
  • I served it with fluffy white rice flavored with cinnamon and green cardamoms.


  • KashmiriKorma-1

Angie’s Fiesta Friday is perfect for this dish wonderfully co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Colleen @ Faith, Hope, Love & Luck

Posted in Food, Kashmir, Main dishes, Meat Dishes | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Cucumber Yogurt and Dill salad

There are so many versions of cucumber and herbs in cuisines ranging from Indian, Egyptian to Greek. My version takes all these influences and create a soothing and filling summer dish.


Perfect for the summer months especially if you have those fresh cucumber growing in your back yard. I have been so excited about my cucumber produce that has brought joy to my small garden. Nothing like picking that cucumber and serving it within minutes.


The yoghurt can be greek or whole milk just needs to be thick. I used a grass fed organic yoghurt which was creamy and delicious.

Dill and mint ( dried and fresh) add amazing flavors and of course garlic is king in kicking the whole dish up many notches:)

You can use Pistachios or Almonds, I soaked the almonds for a couple of hours and sliced them after removing the skin.

This is when you bring out that good quality olive oil.



</p> <p>Cucumber Yogurt and Dill salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


1 container of plain yoghurt

2 cucumbers

Chopped fresh mint

1/2 cup of chopped dill

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 slivered almonds

Salt to taste

Good olive oil


Putting it together

  1. In bowl, mix garlic with the yogurt, lemon juice, dill, fresh and dried mint.
  2. Add the cucumbers, cumin and salt to taste
  3. Top with raisins, almonds and  a couple of glugs of  good olive oil.


Taking this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday.

Posted in Food, Lunch, salad, side dishes | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments