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Kashmiri Kahwa Tea – An Introduction To Tea From Kashmir

It was a very cold day in Delhi and I was suffering from a bad sore throat. This was the time when I first got the taste of Kashmiri Kahwa. I never tasted tea in my life and was hesitant to consume it. However, I was amazed by the simple way it was prepared and given to me. I was instructed by the lady to drink it as soon as possible once it was prepared. The moment I drank it, I felt somehow relieved and liked the taste of it. Consequently, I learnt about this beverage and its varieties. First of all, I would like to share the recipe of Kashmiri Kahwa.

Ingredients Required

  • Water – 3 cups
  • Saffron – 8-10 strands
  • Almonds – 8-10
  • Cinnamon – 2 one inch long pieces
  • Green cardamoms – 2
  • Sugar – 1/2 spoon
  • Honey – 1 tablespoon
  • Tea leaves – 1/2 tablespoon

Steps For Preparation

  • Boil water in a kettle.
  • Add cinnamon pieces into the water.
  • Add crushed green cardamoms.
  • Add saffron strands into boiling water.
  • Let them boil for sometime.
  • Add tea leaves. This is optional by nature.
  • Grate the almonds.
  • Add the grated almonds into the boiling water.
  • Brew the tea for sometime.
  • Add sugar or honey as per requirement.
  • Keep stirring with the help of spoon after every few seconds.
  • Pour in a cup and consume it.

This is the recipe for Kashmiri Kahwa. It has many medicinal values because of saffron, cinnamon, green cardamoms and almonds. One might find enough discussion about them all over the internet. I would not like repetitions here. However, I would be introducing about them in separate articles. Nevertheless, I would like to mention that this Kahwa helps in growing the glow of the skin, cleansing of the digestive system and helps in fighting against the cold and sore throats.

I started consuming it on regular basis either without the tea leaves or sugar. Very soon I discovered that Kashmiris sometimes add thin slices of green apples. This adds the taste and flavor to the kahwa. Sometimes even crushed walnuts are added along with the almonds. I wanted to experiment something from my end also.

Before I might share the new Kahwas of mine, I learnt that it is also called Mughal Chai or Mughal Tea. It is derived from the fact that Mughal Emperors consumed it lavishly in their daily lives. Apart from this, another main reason for this name is because of the ingredients that are used in its preparation like almonds, walnuts, saffron, cinnamon and cardamoms. These dry fruits and spices are usually used or consumed by royal families rather than the common individuals living in the society.

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The basic recipe of kahwa remains the same. It is only the usage of certain fruits or spices makes it different from each other. I would like to enumerate each one of them one by one and they are the following:

  1. Addition of Green sour apples into the kahwa. One should not add sugar. Honey is optional and depends upon the individual. However, it tastes better with honey also.
  2. Kahwa might be prepared only with water, cinnamon and honey. This is the simplest preparation of kahwa.
  3. Saffron is also optional. If one is using it, then one might add black pepper also. In that case, there is no need to add sugar and tea leaves.
  4. I also prepared kahwa with dried apricots also. It is also awesome. Rest of the ingredients remain the same.
  5. One might even add de-seeded dates. In such a scenario, there is no need for the addition of sugar or honey. One might avoid using either of them.
  6. Dried cherries or apples or raisins are also good substitutes and are natural sources of sugar.
  7. Add aniseeds to the Kahwa. This gives new flavor to it.
  8. I added all varieties of crushed dry fruits like pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts, pieces of dried apricots, dates, pieces of raisins, etc. to the kahwa. Placed it in refrigerator. Whenever I wanted to consume it, either for myself or for someone else, I used to take it from the refrigerator and poured it into long glasses. This has to be served chill.
  9. In case I wanted to drink it as tea, I used to brew it once again and pour into cups. This was served to guests.

After many interactions with many natives of Kashmir, I realised that there are at least 36 varieties of kahwa. They are different from district to district of Kashmir. These were varied not in the taste, but also in their ingredients. Each one of them has its own distinctive flavor, smell and taste.

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