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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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Researchers Develop New Test To Detect E.coli in Food Quickly

The kit has been approved by Health Canada and translated for commercial use

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Poultry, Produce Industry
Over 80% of UTIs caused by E.coli is found in poultry. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel testing kit that can detect Escherichia coli (E.coli) — a deadly pathogen — much more quickly than existing methods.

The kit detects E. coli 0157, commonly found in ground meat, and is considered more likely to cause severe illnesses than other forms of the bacteria.

The test detects a protein unique to the pathogenic E. coli bacteria and shows results in hours rather than days.

“Our goal is to get the testing to occur as close as possible to the source,” Michael Rieder, Professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, said in a statement on Friday.

“This technology is not only faster, but it’s less expensive, it’s easy to use, and it can occur right in the processing plant.”

Food samples to be tested are incubated for a few hours. A sample is then placed on a pad. After 15 minutes, the pad displays one red line to show it worked properly – and a second if the sample contains E. coli O157, the CTV reported.

New test to detect E. coli in food quickly. Pixabay

“It’s very much like a pregnancy test,” Rieder was quoted as saying.

Current food testing methods typically rely on culture, which requires samples to be sent away for testing, with results taking up to two weeks to come back. By that time, the food has often been shipped to markets and large recalls have to occur.

The quicker testing ensures that results are received long before contaminated products make it to the market, thus reducing the risk to the public and the need for large-scale food recalls.

“We are looking at this specific biomarker because it is unique to this pathogenic bacteria.The presence of bacteria itself isn’t bad, but we want to be able to identify specific bacteria that will cause people to get sick,” Rieder said.

Also Read- Taapsee Pannu Feels Disturbed By How Some Communities Are Targeted

“The goal is a safer food chain for everyone so that public safety can be assured.”

The kit has been approved by Health Canada and translated for commercial use. (IANS)