Kashmiri Haakh has been a green staple in every Kashmiri household for hundreds of years. Mounds of rice topped with the cooked greens is a common sight that will unequivocally satisfy many a discerning palate.
Often thought of as a very humble food, it’s taste is far from simple. The complex pungent taste of simply cooking it in garlic and chilies can have you licking your fingers. Every household can potentially have a different recipe of making this. I usually make it with a hint of Asafetida, garlic and red chili powder.
When I travel to Kashmir I anticipate the knock on the gates the very next morning when Nazir Kak brings his burlap sack full of fresh Haakh to sell for a meager sum. He brings with him his generous smile and a love for life that make his Haakh taste even better.
I am follower and an addict and have been trying to grow this in my American vegetable garden in Northern Virginia with so much success.
This particular variety is called Kawdara Haakh. Kawdara is an area in the heart of the Old City know for its beautiful vegetables especially these leafy greens. There are other varieties such as Khanyari Haakh, Baidh Haakh, and Kachi Haakh.
These are basically Collard greens are from the brassica family just cabbage, kale, kohlrabi and mustard to name a few.
My Haakh grew so beautifully and has a velvety waxy texture that allows it to stay firm even in extended cooking, meaning, you cannot mess it up by overcooking. The thick stem is peeled and added to the cooking, barely anything goes to waste.
A pinch of soda in the cooking is optional but does keep them bright green and vibrant. I have not found another reason to add it. I also pressure cook mine and then release the pressure immediately after 3 – 4 whistles. If you leave for natural release, the greens tend to loose their color a bit. For the instant pot I would recommend 5 minutes and then release the pressure.
Kashmiri Haakh in an American kitchen
- 2 bunches of Haakh ( collard greens)
- 1 – 2 tbsp oil ( I use mustard oil)
- 3 cloves of garlic – chopped
- 1/4 tsp of Asefetida ( optional)
- 4 green chilies – slices
- 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- A pinch of baking soda (optional)
- Salt as per taste
- Wash and cut the green in thick pieces.
- Heat the oil until smoking and remove from heat
- Add the shallots and return to medium heat to fry them for a few minutes
- Keep the water handy and them add the hing, red chili powder and turmeric. Very quickly add a splash of water to prevent the spices from burning ( see video below)
- Add the garlic and green chilies
- Add the greens andStir until the greens wilt
- Add salt and let it cook, uncovered for about 10 – 15minutes on med high heat or until the greens are tender. 8. Preferably you can do this in a pressure cooker for about 4-5 mins and release the pressure immediately
- Eat with rice and some plain yogurt
Leaving you with these beautiful verses of Habba Khatoon (Zoon) and 16th century Kashmiri Poetess who was a legendary figure in Kashmiri literary history.
Meadows I cover with flowers for you, Come, my lover of flowers! Come, let me gather fresh jasmine for you, Never return these hours! Lilacs have bloomed by the river for you, Deeply the world is asleep, Still, though, no answer has reached me from you, Garlands of green I keep. What if they speak only evil of me? Who has been able to change destiny? Come, my lover of flowers!