(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)
(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

Meat stews, firepots and traditional woollens: This is winter in Srinagar

As temperatures dip, traditional winter essentials harisa, woollen pherans and kangris make a comeback
By Abhishek Saha | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON APR 11, 2019 12:40 PM IST

At 7.30 am on a snowy December day, Peer Murtaza and two friends join the crowd at Dilshad Restaurant to relish a plate of harisa, a traditional Kashmiri winter breakfast dish.

Most tables are taken but the trio find some space, squeeze in and order three plates of the thick meat stew.

Kashmir’s long chill stretches from the onset of autumn in September all the way to April, and at their lowest, temperatures can dip to minus 4 degrees Celsius.

(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)
(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

Every morning during these months, the Dilshad Restaurant — a 71-year-old establishment near Srinagar’s commercial hub of Lal Chowk — serves hundreds. And the only item on their menu is harissa — which, incidentally, is believed to have its origins in central Asia.

A small plate costs Rs 50, a large serving, double that; and each helping comes with complimentary Kashmiri rotis.

“Every winter, my friends and I have harisa at least once or twice a week, for breakfast. It keeps the body warm in the sub-zero temperatures,” says Murtaza, 27, a dry fruit and saffron trader, as he dip his roti into the steaming stew.

Have a plate and you will be warm throughout the day, adds Sibtain Hussain, whose father Naseer Ahmed owns the eatery.

(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)
(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

Hussain explains that preparation of a day’s servings of harisa at the restaurant is an 18-hour process that begins at 11am the previous day.

First, rice is mashed to a watery paste. Then the meat and a combination of spices mixed in. The mix is left in a closed vessel over a fire, overnight, to be opened only at 3am, when it is further mashed until it is a fine paste again.

Above the restaurant is a kitchen straight out of the last century. An elevated rectangular platform holds four large vessels; logs crackle and burn below it.

(Waseem Andrabi/ HT Photo)
(Waseem Andrabi/ HT Photo)

“We use about 25 kg of meat a day,” says Manzoor Ahmed, 20, one of the cooks at Dilshad. “The final stage of mashing — from 3am to say 5.30am — is the most crucial part. The paste should be very fine.”

Each plate of harissa is garnished with a pour of boiling mustard oil and pieces of kebab and minced meat. Murtaza’s friend Mubashir Farooq, 20, a student, swallows a mouthful and grins, “Without harissa, the Kashmiri winter is incomplete.”

Turning it up

The other two elements without which winter is incomplete — and would be unbearable — for Kashmiris is the traditional overcoat or pheran, and the kangri or firepot held underneath it.

Worn by men and women, the pheran is quintessential Kashmiri winter attire, though its design is undergoing transformations to make it more fashionable, and enable it to be worn outside the home and in the office.

“The traditional style of the pheran is loose — you can keep a kangri inside it. The modern style is to make it fitted and give it a formal appearance. And a third style has the collar of a fitting pheran resembles that of an overcoat,” says Irfan Jeelani, the fourth-generation proprietor of Subhana Tailors, a 173-year-old tailoring establishment that is one of the oldest and most prominent in Srinagar.

The pheran is so very warm because it is made of pure wool, lined with a thick layer of cloth, and falls to the knees. “It is the best dress for the minus degrees in Kashmir,” says Jeelani.

(Waseem Andrabi/ HT Photo)
(Waseem Andrabi/ HT Photo)

The cost of a pheran at Subhana Tailors ranges between Rs 4,000 and Rs 12,000, though you can get a decent readymade one for as little as Rs 1,500 in the shops at Lal Chowk.

Kashmiri politicians – including chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah – often wear pherans at public rallies. As do separatist leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Though jackets and blazers are preferred for formal occasions, the pheran is also increasingly making it into the workplace.

“A pheran gives me complete protection from the cold. It’s the most comfortable winter dress for me,” says Andleeb Saqi, a humanitarian aid worker. “A nicely made fitted one can be worn for all professional purposes in winter.”

So integral is the pheran to Kashmiri identity that, in February 2014, an army invitation asking Kashmiri journalists to refrain from wearing the garment to a press briefing triggered outrage and had to be revoked.

Even then chief minister Abdullah had tweeted, “If the army has in fact told journalists not to wear a pheran to Corps HQ events that is unacceptable & the order should be withdrawn. People wear their pheran with pride. It’s part of our identity aside from the best way to stay warm in the cold. Can’t ban pherans.”

The kangri – the age-old earthen pot carrying embers, held in a beautiful wicker case – has also survived the test of time in Kashmir, mainly because of the many, acute power cuts.

A mixture of embers and sawdust produces the heat in a kangri, making it a most economical source of heat. You can buy one for just Rs 200. “I sell about 15 to 20 pieces a day in the early days of winter,” says Sajad Dar, 18, who sells kangris on the streets of Srinagar.

Syed Shuja, 35, a government employee, says by the time he returns home from work every day, his mother has prepared a kangri for each member of the family. “I freshen up and change into a pheran and keep the kangri inside it until bedtime. After that, it’s blankets, blankets, warmth and sleep.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Russia lifts travel ban for Finland, Vietnam, India and Qatar(Unsplash)
Russia lifts travel ban for Finland, Vietnam, India and Qatar(Unsplash)

Russia removes travel ban for Indian, Vietnam, Finland and Qatar

Reuters, Moscow
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 09:04 AM IST
On Monday, Russia lifted the travel ban that it had imposed last year in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Travellers from India, Finland, Vietnam and Qatar will now be able to fly to Russia.
Close
Republic Day 2021 GIFs and stickers(Unsplash)
Republic Day 2021 GIFs and stickers(Unsplash)

Make Republic Day 2021 special by sending unique stickers and GIFs on WhatsApp

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:30 AM IST
  • Trying to send a nice Happy Republic Day sticker to your family members? It is quite easy, checkout these quick steps that will let you download stickers and send GIFs on WhatsApp.
Close
Jim Sarbh in a block printed knotted angarkha tunic (Photo: Instagram/RajeshPratapSinghWorks)
Jim Sarbh in a block printed knotted angarkha tunic (Photo: Instagram/RajeshPratapSinghWorks)

26 letters which redefine Indianness

By Manish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 12:57 AM IST
Indian fashion isn’t just exotic inspo that international brands can use as reference. It’s a discipline in itself
Close
What’s in store for Aries, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio and other zodiac signs.
What’s in store for Aries, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio and other zodiac signs.

Horoscope Today: Astrological prediction for January 26

By Dr Prem Kumar Sharma, Manisha Koushik, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 12:10 AM IST
Daily horoscope: Are the stars lined up in your favour? Find out the astrological prediction for Aries, Leo, Virgo, Libra and other zodiac signs for January 26.
Close
Maria Grazia Chiuri presents a couture collection steeped in Tarot symbolism (Photo: Instagram/Dior)
Maria Grazia Chiuri presents a couture collection steeped in Tarot symbolism (Photo: Instagram/Dior)

Couture steeped in Tarot symbolism

By Manish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 12:01 AM IST
Dior Couture Spring 21 was a vibrant and lush canvas painted by Maria Grazia Chiuri’s epiphany inducing paintbrush where she referenced the mystique of Tarot cards
Close
Youngsters are engaging in poetry events, offline and online, ahead of Republic Day.
Youngsters are engaging in poetry events, offline and online, ahead of Republic Day.

Poetry lovers rejoice, here’s something to bring back your rhythm!

By Mallika Bhagat, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 07:52 PM IST
All the poetry lovers in the Capital, you are up for a treat in the coming days, with a number of events lined up, both online and offline.
Close
Men, take note! If you are a new father and insecure about the relationship with your partner, it may trigger postnatal depression, a new study suggested.(ANI)
Men, take note! If you are a new father and insecure about the relationship with your partner, it may trigger postnatal depression, a new study suggested.(ANI)

Depression in new fathers linked to relationship insecurities: Study

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:51 PM IST
Men, take note! If you are a new father and insecure about the relationship with your partner, it may trigger postnatal depression, a new study suggested.
Close
IndiaFor the first time ever, Utsaah #spreadinghappiness, a concept showcasing Indian Culture online, will be beaming LIVE from the STUDIO to give viewers an enhanced Magical experience.(ANI)
IndiaFor the first time ever, Utsaah #spreadinghappiness, a concept showcasing Indian Culture online, will be beaming LIVE from the STUDIO to give viewers an enhanced Magical experience.(ANI)

Three-day Live Music Festival 'Utsaah MahaUtsav' Presented by LIC Organised

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:24 PM IST
IndiaFor the first time ever, Utsaah #spreadinghappiness, a concept showcasing Indian Culture online, will be beaming LIVE from the STUDIO to give viewers an enhanced Magical experience. Titled Maha Ustav, presented by LIC of India, this is a brainchild of Durga Jasraj, Founder of Art and Artistes.
Close
Priyanka Chopra wears copper-coloured top worth <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>27k(Instagram/priyankachopra)
Priyanka Chopra wears copper-coloured top worth 27k(Instagram/priyankachopra)

Priyanka Chopra's WFH look includes stunning shirt worth 27k and comfy lowers

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:57 PM IST
  • One of Priyanka Chopra's Work From Home looks garnered more attention than the rest. Her fans loved her dark copper coloured formal blouse which she accessorised with statement gold jewellery.
Close
The language of hand gestures has worked as a bridge of communication for not only people with hearing and speech disabilities who are taking part in the camp. (Unsplash)
The language of hand gestures has worked as a bridge of communication for not only people with hearing and speech disabilities who are taking part in the camp. (Unsplash)

How sign language helped connect diverse 'mini India' at R-Day camp amid Covid

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:55 PM IST
Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Ladakhi, Assamese are among the Indian languages which can be heard at this year's Republic Day camp here, but there is a particular one being also used by various contingents - sign language, adding a layer of inclusivity to the diversity that the ceremonial event represents.
Close
Facilities will be created to give training and technical support to people here and empower them adequately to create skilled manpower to serve tourists in the most professional manner, the minister said.(Unsplash)
Facilities will be created to give training and technical support to people here and empower them adequately to create skilled manpower to serve tourists in the most professional manner, the minister said.(Unsplash)

Kargil to be developed as adventure tourism destination: Union minister

PTI, Kargil
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:47 PM IST
The Centre is committed to create international level infrastructure in Ladakh's Kargil district to make it an adventure tourism destination, Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said on Sunday.
Close
Austrian artist Arik Brauer, known for his surreal paintings and murals, has died at the age of 92.(AP)
Austrian artist Arik Brauer, known for his surreal paintings and murals, has died at the age of 92.(AP)

Austrian artist Arik Brauer dies at 92

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:38 PM IST
Austrian artist Arik Brauer, known for his surreal paintings and murals, has died at the age of 92.
Close
According to the study, published in the journal 'Mental Health, Religion and Culture', spiritualist mediums might be more prone to immersive mental activities and unusual auditory experiences early in life.(Pixabay)
According to the study, published in the journal 'Mental Health, Religion and Culture', spiritualist mediums might be more prone to immersive mental activities and unusual auditory experiences early in life.(Pixabay)

Here's why some people 'hear the dead'

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:31 PM IST
A study led by Durham University shed some light on why a few people adopt spiritualist beliefs and engage in the practice of "hearing the dead."
Close
Several artists and dancers performed for the Prime Minister in colourful attires and vibrant dances ahead of the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi.(PTI)
Several artists and dancers performed for the Prime Minister in colourful attires and vibrant dances ahead of the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi.(PTI)

PM Modi meets artists ahead of R-Day parade, urges them to strengthen India

ANI, New Delhi [india]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:26 PM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday interacted with artists, who will be performing in the 75th Republic Day Parade on January 26 and lauded the country's socio-cultural heritage.
Close
In a cross-cultural analysis, found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.(ANI)
In a cross-cultural analysis, found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.(ANI)

Study suggests women influenced coevolution of dogs, humans

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:11 PM IST
In a cross-cultural analysis, found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP