A Farewell Dinner in Kashmir

I decided I would do a farewell dinner for the people who made my stay at the hotel and in Kashmir a delight.

I have invited 12 people for a delicious dinner tonight.

It is now 4:45 and it is almost ready. The table is set, and all I need is a rest, a shower, and the guests arrive at 7:30.

What fun…Janna the cook and I started out in the cleaned hotel kitchen. Then one by one the young men who wait tables, clean the hotel, and help in the kitchen came in asking if they could help.

Mind you they have about 12 words of English between them.

Janna the chef has about the same amount, but we have always gotten along in the kitchen because of our shared love of cooking and good food. Yummmm, and taste this on the spoon is a language to itself.

So it is show time and they follow my instructions perfectly.

I had Ajaz blistering green peppers on the fire, someone cleaned a dozen red onions , mountains of garlic, and Janna chopped them fine as only he can do. Janna chopped 2 kgs. of tomatos in record time, some for the lamb, some for the blistered green pepper and tomatoe salad, and finally the Italian tomato soup.

Musifir who is the computer techi, and foodie, came in and began peeling the roasted aubergines and into the blender with lemon juice, olive oil, and once again heaps of garlic for the Babaganou. No pita bread so it will be chipatis tonight.

Ibrahim, the day manager, wanders in to see what all the laughter is about and ends up sitting disecting the cooled roasted peppers.

Someone at the sink is cleaning and sorting the dhania (cilantro)another peeling carrots, grating cucumber, mashing the pots of cooked carrots and pot of cooked cauliflower and garlic by hand cause there is no masher. I then jump in and add the fresh garlic, olive oil, dhania, cumin, and mix it by hand which gives it the soul and love my Balinese cooking teacher told me years ago.
Janna cut up the lamb and removed much of the excess fat. I had the butcher down the road de-bone it on his tree stump using hand gestures to explain what I wanted.

Slow cooking is the answer to it’s tenderness.

So it is….

Italian tomato soup
Cold cooked salads…cauliflower, carrot, green pepper and tomato, all done with heaps of garlic, dhania, cumin, and olive oil just like I learned in cooking class in Fez Morocco.

A yogurt salad similar to the Greek Tizitki, but Iranian, with pan roasted hazelnuts, almonds and raisens.

Lamb done with prunes Moroccan style with heaps of garlic, onion, and pitted prunes.

There will be more of those roasted nuts tossed on top at the end.

Besmati rice

Bananas Foster…New York style…bananas cooked in butter and brown sugar till it gets really thick…no brandy we are Muslims here…poured slowly over vanilla ice cream.

Did I ever have fun finding all of these ingredients…some came from Cape Town.

Ajaz always drove me all over town to find all of the ingredients I needed throughout my Kashmir stay.

Farewell Joanna…..until next year!