This Kashmiri Chef Is Preserving The Art Of Mutton Harissa In Srinagar; Here’s How

by Sanjana Shenoy
This Kashmiri Chef Is Preserving The Art Of Mutton Harissa In Srinagar; Here’s How

In the sub-zero temperatures of Kashmir, a plate of piping hot Harissa fresh out of the wood-fired oven will keep one warm and ready to face the day. This popular winter breakfast is a traditional mutton delicacy that takes hours to prepare in a laborious cooking process, that’s considered an art in itself.  It involves using traditional cooking methods, wood-fired ovens and earthen pots, and unfortunately, Harissa making is a dying art. But one Kashmiri chef is out to preserve this art in Srinagar. Read on to know more.

Preparing Mutton Harissa In Traditional Manner For 50 Years

Muhammad Ashraf Bhat, a Kashmiri chef in Srinagar has over 50 years of experience cooking harissa in a traditional manner. He wakes up at 4 am every day, carefully chops and cleans the mutton with a large knife. To prepare the protein-heavy dish, he next pounds rice and spices with a massive mallet. Ashraf Bhat reveals to Eater that one needs a lot of patience to cook harissa. While most people use a pressure cooker these days, he does everything by hand, as that’s where the secret to its authentic flavour lies. The meat dish is cooked in a special underground oven for a 24-hour period. It involves, creating a paste out of the mutton, mashing rice and then adding fried onions, garlic and other spices.

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Carrying A Family Recipe Through Generations

Since it’s a breakfast dish, the locals throng at eateries for freshly cooked harissa early morning during the cold winters. Ashraf Bhat tells Eater that his family has been preparing authentic harissa for generations. He left his studies to join his father and grandfather to learn the art of preparing harissa. But his son is interested in studying further and may not continue the family tradition. To complete his dish, Ashraf Bhat pours the harissa from the earthen pot, tops it with boiling mustard oil and serves it with the traditional Kashmiri bread. This dish is indeed one of the age-old Kashmiri delicacies you must try when you’re in the mountainous region.