Well, for this post at least, let’s start with some formal gyan. “Waz” means cook and “Wan” means shop. A formal wazwan consists on 36 courses meal, cooked overnight by one masterchef called “Vaste Waze”. The meal is normally served on a metal plate called “Trame”. the basic structure of the meal is as follows. White rice is served and on top of it, the following items are served – Tabak Maaz (mutton ribs deep fried), Methi korma (keema cooked with phenugreek), Sheekh Kebab (Mutton) and Safed Kokur (chicken in white gravy). Normally, 2 types of chutney are served – Sabzi ki chutney and yoghurt. In any wazwan, 7 dishes are mandatory.
- Tabakh Maaz- deep fried mutton ribs
- Rista – Mutton balls in saffron based gravy
- Goshtaba – Mutton balls in curd based gravy
- Rogun Josh – mutton (or more specifically lamb) cooked in spicy red gravy colored with Ratanjot
- Dhaniwal Korma – Mutton curry (can be substituted with chicken in modern times) cooked with coriander
- marchhwangan korma -chicken legs/thighs cooked in a spicy Indian brown gravy
- aab gosh- lamb chunks cooked with fennel, cardamom and dried milk
Having read the above and once in Kashmir, experiencing wazwan was definitely on our bucket lists. So, from the write-up by my friend Anindya S Basu and Tanya Rizvin, we zeroed on to two places for the experience- Mughul Durbar and Ahdoos. “So, let there be a battle of wazwan for me”- I thought, between these two places and so it was. so far, we’ve tasted individual dishes as a la carte in Pahalgam, but not as a wazwan.
Mughul Durbar experience
Now, once you reach the place, you’ll see there are two mughul durbars- one at the ground floor and another at the first floor. the one on the first floor is much older (around 50+ years) and frequented more by locals. Wherein, the one at the ground floor may be good, but we haven’t tasted there- so can’t really comment. Once you enter, the decoration in pretty neat, nothing over the top, but a standard decent one.
In the menu card, there is a hell lot of items, but we were told to go for the set wazwan meals and rather, mini wazwan meals. Hence, we didn’t waste time and straightaway ordered the same. Also, we were warned about the huge portion size. So, for 3 of us, we ordered one (we all are small eaters) and some extra pulao/ Naan.
So, this was the complete meal of what was served to us – yes. At 770/-, it was definitely a steal. And, surprisingly, the showstopper was the sabzi ki chutney. The waiter actually was trying hard to hide his laugh at our inability to finish one mini wazwan per person, but what the hell …
Now, let’s come to individual tastes. It was seriously different from whatever we’ve tasted in Pahalgam. the gravies were much subtle and frankly, the lamb balls had their distinct smell and flavor. Overall, Srinagar definitely won. And the champion, apart from the chutney, was the Tabakh Maaz. the meat was exceptionally crunchy and chewy and so so full of flavors. Secondly, the name Mirchi Korma was taken kinda seriously and it WAS spicy. The pulaw, on the other hand, had much similarity with the bengali basanti pulao. It was sweet-ish and flavored with saffron- an extremely subtle dish which went well with almost every meat dish on the table.
But, sadly, wazwan has no desserts and we bongs can’t live without one. Hence, we ordered Anda Halwa. It was damn good. The egg-smell was fully subdued by the ghee and dry fruits. Yet, the overall appearance was low-key. Definitely recommended.
The next place, off course on the next day lunch was Ahdoo’s. Now, this is one of the cult places for Wazwan among tourists in Srinagar. It’s basically a hotel, having the restaurant with the same name and a bakery at the ground floor (which I am told is good… ). And, let me tell you, it’s pretty upmarket and the difference in guest profile is pretty evident from Mughul Durbar.
Again, we ordered for the Single wazwan, but here, the waiter was clear that it can’t be shared among multiple guests (god knows why) and another a la carte main course needs to be ordered. So be it. We ordered for one Mutton Rogan Josh and Kashmiri Naan along with the wazwan. And, what we got was like below.
Now reader, please behold the finer details in the wazwan here.
- the metal trame was bang on spot
- there are two pcs of Tabakh Maaz (great)
- the ribs are taken from a wiser, aged lamb (LOL)
- smaller portion sizes (even the lamb ball sizes and
- appearance of Saaque
The taste was definitely good, in fact great. But as compared to Mughul Durbar, the portion sizes were on the lesser/ smaller side. But, definitely nothing to complain- ambiance and service made up for it. The surprise element was the kashmiri Naan. Once it came, my son suddenly jumped with joy … “Is it pizza ? Papa ..” and even the waiter chuckled “yes beta, kashmiri pizza”. It was a super soft naan made with maida and topped with a basting of saffron milk, dry fruits and mini dollops of yes, hung curd. The end product was fabulous and I’d suggest it to enjoy as it is, without any gravy.
For dessert, we’ve ordered Kashmiri phirni and Fruit with cream. The phirni was sprinkled with poppy seeds and frankly, couldn’t stand a chance against its Kolkata counterpart and we’ll try to forget it ASAP. The fruit with cream, however, was damn good.
So, if there is a battle, both are winners. While Mughul Durbar wins as a common man’s eat-out, Ahdoos wins on the classy quotient. And, food is a winner in both the places. Which one will I visit again ? Both off course …..
Bon apetit !!!
Comments and critics welcome.
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