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Delicious bakery products hold special place in Kashmir cuisine

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Kashmir cuisine
Freshly baked Kashmiri 'bagel bread' Tilwor, also known as Chochwor. Image source: blogspot.com

Srinagar: Kashmir’s cuisine speaks for itself. Although it brings to mind Kashmir’s famous multi-course meal Wazwan, connoisseurs believe there’s a mind-boggling variety of traditional bakery products available in the state.

Very few outsiders would know that the Valley bakes products, known for their unique taste, prepared in a traditional tandoor by bakers called “kandhurs”.

These professional bakers are in the trade for generations.

For instance, there is choatt, flatbread with thick edges and furrowed surfaces, and lavaasa, a lighter variation of pita bread which the locals enjoy with a salted tea called noon chai.

Kandhurs prepare bread in tandoors, imprinting their fingertips on the dough before putting it in the oven. They use long iron rods to pluck out the hot choatt from the tandoor’s inner surface.

Lavaasa, being lighter and thinner, is prepared by placing it on a round mound of cloth filled with cotton, a round, pillow-shaped surface. The lavaasa is stretched upon it and then pasted on to the hot oven.

“Lavassa is a paper-thin blistered naan. One can also apply butter or jam to it before eating,” Ghulam Muhammad in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, better known as Gull Kandhur, told reporters.

Some lavassas are soft while others are crisp. It is also eaten as a wrap around barbequed mutton.

Chochwour, a bagel-like bread, generously daubed with sesame seeds and given a glazy look by rubbing it with pasteurised butter is another favourite of Kashmiris and is preferred with afternoon tea.

Other delicacies include British-era puffs, patties, cream rolls, pastries, stuffed kulcha (oven baked), mittha bundhh (sweet bun) and bundhh (salted bun).

“There are many types of traditional breads like baqerkhani (more like puff pastry, baked in layers and often served with the famous Kashmiri saffron-flavored kehwa), katlam (usually crispy and thin) and sheermaal, a dry, crispy bread with a long shelf life,” said Mushtaq Ahmed, a seventh generation traditional baker who runs a bakery shop in Chadoora town of central Kashmir.

Besides these breads consumed on a regular basis, Kashmir’s bakeries are also famous for specialties like kulchas, modur kulchas, telvarus, khamira rotis and khatais, most sought after on various occasions.

Kashmir, in fact, has a bread and bakery product for every season and every occasion, be it a wedding or a birthday celebration.

“There are nearly a dozen versions of sweet, salty or bland kulchaas (small, hard dry, crispy bread, usually round in shape decorated by placing a peanut in the centre) which are served on special occasions, including during mourning. Kulchas will always be in demand” said Gulzar Ahmed Sofi, who runs both a traditional and a modern bakery in Budgam.

Sofi said traditional Kashmiri bakeries are irreplaceable when it comes to special occasions in the Valley.

“Modern bakeries just won’t make the cut. You cannot serve chocolate pastry and stuff like that during Kashmiri weddings, or any other ceremony for that matter,” he added.

The roath (Kashmiri dry fruit cake) is a delicacy, usually prepared on auspicious occasions such as Muharram.

The evolution of the Kashmir bakeries owes itself to historical influences.

According to local historians, the rulers of Central Asia brought along a change during their reign in Kashmir when different varieties of baked products were introduced in the Valley.

“It was during the golden era of Kashmir, when Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin, known as ‘budshah’ ruled, that bakery touched its zenith,” poet and oral historian Zareef Ahmad Zareef told reporters.

Thus, while modern culture has touched and changed almost every aspect of life in Kashmir, the traditional bakeries have withstood the onslaught of modernity and held out against pizzas, burgers and pastries as well as sweets from other parts of the country. (Shamshad Ali, IANS)

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A Diet Rich in Nutrients Helps In Living Longer: Study

Anti-inflammatory foods consist of fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, whole grain bread, breakfast cereal, low-fat cheese, olive oil.

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Anti-inflammatory
This diet may help you live longer Pixabay

Adhering to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread, nuts, olive oil and canola oil may help you live longer, a new study has found.

The findings, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, suggest that those who closely follow an anti-inflammatory diet have an 18 per cent lower risk of all-cause mortality.

The researchers also found that those who follow the diet experience a 20 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, and a 13 per cent lower risk of cancer mortality, when compared with those who followed the diet to a lesser degree.

Anti-inflammatory
A bowl of fresh fruits a day may lower the risk of developing diabetes by 12 per cent, a study has showed. Pixabay

“Our dose-response analysis showed that even partial adherence to the anti-inflammatory diet may provide a health benefit,” said lead author Joanna Kaluza, Associate Professor at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland.

It was also found that smokers who followed the diet experienced even greater benefits when compared with smokers who did not follow the diet, the team said.

For the study, the research team involved 68,273 Swedish men and women aged between 45 and 83 years. The participants were followed for 16 years.

The anti-inflammatory potential of the diet was estimated using the validated anti-inflammatory diet index (AIDI), which includes 11 potential anti-inflammatory and five potential pro-inflammatory foods.

Anti-inflammatory
The researchers also found that those who follow the diet experience a 20 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular mortality. Flickr

Anti-inflammatory foods consist of fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, whole grain bread, breakfast cereal, low-fat cheese, olive oil and canola oil, nuts, chocolate, and moderate amounts of red wine and beer.

Also Read: Controlling Diet a Remedy For Metabolic Syndrome

Pro-inflammatory foods include unprocessed and processed red meat, organ meats, chips, and soft-drink beverages, the team said. (IANS)