Critical Review of the Book Titled “Sal-A Feast of Kashmiri Cuisine”
I wanted to prepare a typical Kashmiri Sherbat at the time of Ramzaan. I was searching for Kashmiri recipes. I was not very fortunate enough to know about it. Luckily I discovered the details of the recipe in the book titled “Sal-A Feast of Kashmiri Cuisine”. It was written by Smt. Neerja Mattoo-a Professor in English literature and teaching in the Kashmir University. It was a colorful book with lots of recipes from the valley. It was published in the year of 2008. The name of the publisher was Gulshan Books, Srinagar-Kashmir. The ISBN is 81-8339-063-3. The cost of the book is Rs.495.
The book is dedicated to her mother. The contents of the book are:
1. 11 Wazwaan recipes
2. 7 Non-Vegetarian recipes
3. 21 Vegetarian Recipes
4. 8 Mutton and Vegetable
5. 9 recipes prepared from fish and 1 recipe prepared from duck
6. 2 Dried Vegetables
7. 4 Recipes using rice
8. 4 Desserts
9. 4 Beverages
10. 7 Snacks and Tea-Time Savouries
11. 4 Chutneys
12. 1 Pickle
13. 2 Spice Cakes (garlic and asafoetida based)
The excellent points present in the book are:
a. Different varieties of recipes have been shared by the author.
b. The author gives a vivid introduction about the Kashmiri cuisine-right from seasonal dishes to festive cuisine.
c. The authentic recipes shared from her side are Sadre Kaenz, Sheer Chai, bakery products, harisa, girda, etc.
d. She discusses about the use and prevention of certain spices and vegetables during festivals and seasons as described in traditional books.
e. Very clear colored photographs for various dishes are showcased in the book (this even includes the traditional copper utensils used for different purposes).
f. Her major contribution lies in the sharing of recipes using dried vegetables.
g. This is the only book sharing the recipe for a beverage called Babribyol Sherbet (beverage prepared from chia seeds) and sadr-e-kaenz-a fermented rice water).
The weak points of the book are:
a. The sections on non-vegetarian and mutton and vegetable could have been taken into one category only.
b. The author was not fair in her contribution towards the discussion and listing of the Wazwaan dishes.
c. Though the author mentions about various bakery products in the Introduction of her book, however, there is nowhere mentioned or discussed about the manner in which these products are prepared by the Kandarvaan or the baker’s shop.
d. The author is not shown much attention towards the preparations of various dishes from the dried vegetables.
e. There are other varieties of pickles prepared in Kashmir. The author misses her points in it too.
To summarize in the end, the book is truly an introduction to the world of Kashmiri cuisine. The author describes the steps in a very lucid manner and one can follow them nicely. I enjoyed cooking some of the recipes from the book.