You all know about my penchant for tea. Just about any tea. And Kashmiris have many. Kahva or Mogul Chai is now almost as well known as the regular chai we drink everyday. There is another, not seen or heard outside the community, but as loved by us Kashmiris.
Not so long ago even Kahva was unfamiliar and strange to the North Indian palate here in Delhi; the Kahva my mother-in-law offered as a special treat to her kitty-party buddies twenty years ago did not generate much enthusiasm and made me wary of offering shir chai to anyone but family.
A typical family get-together will begin with rounds of Kahva as we wait for the folk to gather. There may be some matthi or pastry puffs or tchot (nan-like leavened flat bread) that someone is sure to have brought along. Then we will all proceed to stuff ourselves to the gills on the traditional fare that is mandatory at a Kashmiri gathering. It may seem repetitive to TH but we never tire of our rogan josh (curried mutton) or mutsch or kaliya or yakhni or haak or monjji or dum olu or panir or nadur (lotus stem) or palak (spinach). Yes, that is pretty much the standard menu you will find at any Kashmiri party. After having just finished the richest meal imaginable, we will all likely say yes to a cup of this salty milky tea. In fact, the party isn’t over till we do. Of course, there are always a few poor souls who will decline in favour of “Lipton Chai” aka regular Indian black tea that the entire country loves to drink.