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.
The Wazwaan preparation is detailed and takes hours. The master chef and his team usually cooker overnight to present a 36 course meal which includes about 15 to 30 meat preparations.
Rista is a meatball dish prepared by pounding the meat with fat and creating soft and spongy balls. A wooden mallet on a smooth stone is used for the pounding. These are then flavored with Kashmiri red chilies and aromatic spices.
The process is labor intensive so I have used a shortcut by starting with minced meat and processing it in my blender here in my American kitchen. Since I had my husband involved in the cooking :), he did try and pound it for bit with a wooden mallet on a thick cutting board.
The recipe is pretty elaborate in spices and process so have patience, it will be well worth it.
So, please ask the butcher to mince the lamb for you with 20% fat. This will keep is soft and delicious. If you did not add fat to the meat you can add couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter
The color deep and red was contained by using dry Cockscomb flower powder. These flowers belong to the amaranth family, and are also known as Wool Flowers or Brain Celosia, suggestive of a highly colored brain. It is a natural way to add the color to the dish.
You can use a natural plant based food color that is readily available or omit any coloring. It will still be equally delicious.
- 1 pound of minced lamb ( 80% meat, 20% fat)
- 1/4 cup Ghee
- 2 tablespoons mustard oil
- 4 cups of water or bone broth
- 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder soaked in warm water for an hour
- 1 1/2 tbsp fennel powder ( saunf)
- 1 tbsp ginger powder (saunth)
- 1 tbsp turmeric powder
- 2 in inch pieces of cinnamon
- 4-5 crushed green cardamom
- 2 crushed black cardamom
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds.
- 1 tsp black cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
- 2 onions chopped
- 1/2 tsp saffron soaked in 2 tsp warm water
- 1 tsp Mawal (dried cockscomb flower powder) soaked in 1/2 cup of warm water or a pinch of red natural food color soaked in 1/2 cup warm water
- Run the meat through a food processor adding to it some salt and 1/4 tsp each of green cardamom powder, ground fennel, black cardamom seeds . If you did not add fat to the meat you can add couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter. The meat will become light in color and look like a paste.
- Using wet chilled hands, make round 1 inch meatballs and set aside
- Heat 2 tablespoons mustard oil in a pan, add chopped onions, fry them till brown and then grind in mixer or mortar pestle.
- Boil 4 cups of water or bone broth with remaining black cardamom and green cardamom seeds, fennel, dry ginger, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, cumin seeds, garlic, chili way, and bay leaf.
- Add meatballs and cook for 15-20 mins.
- Add the onion paste and cook for a few more minutes. Once color is obtained and the liquid is reduced you can remove the any whole spices by scooping them out.
- Add saffron water, black cumin seeds, black pepper, food color and ghee and continue cooking for another 3 minutes on low flame.
- Serve with boiled rice.
I served it with a side of turnip and radish green cooked with fried turnips( recipe coming soon)