The long lasting Aroma of Kashmiri Chai – ‘The Pink Tea’
It’s almost 7 in the morning, you still struggling to believe it’s the time to wake-up as you won’t give anything for the cozy warmth of the blanket on chilly winter morning in Kashmir.
You take a quick peek at the window & it’s snowing, the whole porch is covered with fresh & soft snow. Here enters the ‘Noon Chai’, the aroma of the piping hot tea gives a good reason to leave the blanket, enjoying your cuppa right besides the window witnessing snowfall is a heavenly treat & makes a perfect morning!!!
It just feels that everything is right & if it isn’t one will certainly find a way to make things fall in place as every speck of snow falls on the earth & rests itself gradually making the whole surface white, that’s the magic!!! The whole porch, garden, apple tree gets snow capped and adorn new color.
Noon Chai is very different from the one we have in North India, primarily it’s salty in taste & pink in color. It’s revered drink in Kashmir especially during gatherings and is enjoyed by everyone in the house alike.
Kashmiri Noon Chai or the Pink Tea is prepared by the perfect combination of green tea leaves, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, pistachios, almonds, milk, cold water, sugar, salt and baking soda. I had my first cuppa at a friend’s place in Kashmir, fondly served by his mother along with other snacks.
I also had ‘Kahwah’, green tea flavored with cinnamon and other dry fruits. It’s tastier & healthier option as compared to the tea we usually have. We have, since our visit to Kashmir, started having Kahwah in winters !!! (Though we are not really tea or coffee fans otherwise, we prefer green tea or hot milk 🙂 )
Our visit to Kashmir was such memorable one because we stayed at a friend’s place & his whole family was so remarkably affectionate, we got to taste amazing Kashmiri delicacies like Wazwan. Even the usual dishes like ‘Palak Panner’ seemed so different, this is because all the spices and masalas that go into preparation are used in a very different manner. The liberal use of spices adds warmth, awesome color and comfort to Kashmiri curries.
You will not find sofa or chairs in the ethnic Kashmiri house, the floor is thoroughly covered with heavy carpet & everybody sits on the floor itself. Another interesting thing that you will observe is that in their culture men and women usually do not sit in the same room. Though the customs were pretty relaxed for us but within their community they strictly follow the suit.
We had a great time discussing about tourism, current affairs & how it impacts lives of the locals. It also gave us an opportunity to understand their culture, experience it & appreciate the differences.
Their perspectives on how the decisions of the Indian Government or the Pakistan have impacted Kashmiris over the decades left profound impact on us.The experiences they shared were heart-rending.
Places, People, Culture, Food !! Totally Wonderful !!
Recently, we saw Haider the issue was highlighted in the movie quite well. For lot of Kashmiris this movie is like a mirror in the past life, the hardships that people have gone through since times immemorial are difficult to define in words. There are so many unanswered questions & with answers lost in time, the issues are left open ended.
We are glad things are better now though a long way from the utopia but then there is no perfect place in the world!!!