Nandini Sen, Content Writer
It’s time to celebrate regional comfort foods that haven’t lost their shine despite the unceasing expansion of the food scene. Here are six unmatchable homely delights that’ll charm both your palate and your heart.
What qualifies as delightful varies greatly from individual to individual. Some like to escape into the wondrous world of cinema, while others find their bliss in shopping. In truth, no matter how sombre our nature and how dreary our lives, delight-seekers we all are in one way or another. By robbing us of our smallest delights – getting together with friends or sauntering in malls – the scourge of coronavirus only made us crave our personal joys with an unforeseen fervour and ferocity. Luckily for us, the pandemic couldn’t take away everything that prompted a smile.
One of the things that continued bringing us unbridled joy through all those gloom and doom days was comfort food. And foodie or no foodie, you’ll have to agree there’s nothing quite like tucking into a bowl of comfort grub, brimming with goodness and bubbling with happiness. While some classic comfort foods – Maggi noodles, fries, and chocolate – aren’t all that healthy, the good news is: comfort food can be very comforting and very healthy. Here are six regional comfort foods from across Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh that both your taste buds and soul are going to love:
Rajma Chawal – Culinary Icon
This classic dish occupies a special place in the food heritage of both the Jammu and Kashmir regions. Consisting of red kidney bean curry and fluffy steamed rice, it is simple, unpretentious, and has a high satiety level. No wonder it evokes childhood memories for so many. And no wonder it’s what so many like to cook and wolf down on bad days. Though Rajma chawal is characterized by minor local variations – no one recipe has been appropriated and formalized – it is a perennial favourite across regions.
(Above): Few can resist the temptation of home-made rajma chawal Photo courtesy of Pinterest
Health Benefits: Kidney beans help stabilize blood glucose levels, are an excellent source of protein and soluble fibre. Rice and rajma, in combination, make up a complete protein.
Makki ki Roti Sarson ka Saag – Meal of the Earth
Bursting with the rustic, unpolished flavours of the North-Indian home & hearth, Makki ki Roti Sarson ka Saag can still give noodles and burgers a run for their money. Consisting of unleavened maize flour bread and mustard greens, the dish has an enduring homely charm that remains intact across the hinterlands of nearly all Jammu districts. In areas like Poonch and Rajouri, makki roti is traditionally enjoyed all through the year, albeit in combination with kohlrabi greens and chutney.
(Above): Sarson ka Saag Makki ki Roti is quintessential North-Indian village food. Photo courtesy of Archana’s kitchen.com
Health Benefits: Packed with dietary fibre, vitamin B6, iron, vitamin C, manganese, and calcium, Sarson saag detoxifies the body and boosts immunity. Makki roti reduces cholesterol and regulates blood sugar.
Ambal – Taste of Heritage
This wildly popular dish made of pumpkin, jaggery, and tamarind is a staple of every Dogri home. While it’s also a wedding specialty, its no-frills no-fuss method of preparation has made it equally a part of home-made Dogra fare, the sort that is rustled up on busy afternoons or weeknights. Piquantly flavourful, ambal is commonly relished with steamed rice. Rare indeed is the Dogra man or woman for whom this much-loved meal doesn’t conjure up memories of mum’s love.
(Above): For Dogras the world over, Ambal is the definition of culinary comfort. Photo courtesy of Fast Curries.com
Health Benefits: Pumpkin, the primary ingredient of Ambal, is a low-calorie vegetable packed with immunity-fortifying nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin E, and antioxidants.
Biryani – Anytime Contentment
Freed of its regional renditions and technicalities (Lucknowi or Hyderabadi, kacchi or pakki, accompanied by raita or chutney), Biryani becomes the regular rice and meat dish cooked at home or at the local restaurant – the ultimate comfort food for carnivores. With no distinct Biryani recipe that is sworn by, Biryani in the region is often more Pulao-like. So even as connoisseurs might frown, the regular foodie is happy to polish it off, knowing full well it’s the closest she/he will ever get to total gratification.
(Above): Fragrant & flavoursome, Biryani enjoys cult status among non-vegetarians. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
(Surprise!) Health Benefits: Chicken and mutton Biryani are both rich in protein. Additionally, the spices that go into it – ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, garlic – have anti-inflammatory properties that detoxify and improve digestion.
Thukpa – Bowl of Comfort
If food is supposed to taste good, be nourishing, and fill one’s tummy, Thukpa – one pot noodle soup with veggies and sometimes meat – does them all with consummate ease. Guaranteed to increase your happiness quotient, this Tibetan-origin dish figures prominently in the food landscape of Ladakh. But given its zesty warmth and high satiety value, it’s become widely popular as the “comfort broth” to reach out to whenever there’s a nip in the air.
(Above): There’s nothing quite like a hearty bowl of thukpa on a wet winter evening. Photo courtesy of Times of India
Health Benefits: Thukpa is brimming with nutritive ingredients. Ginger and black pepper boost immunity, while veggies like carrots, cabbage, mushroom, and spring onions provide fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Kashmiri Dum Aloo Rice – Deliciously Yours
Rice and deep-fried potatoes cooked in a slightly sour, spiced gravy may not sound like everyone’s dream food, but for those who intimately know Kashmiri dum aloo’s refined epicurean appeal, it is one dish that never fails to uplift spirits and satisfy palates. Though disarmingly simple in terms of preparation, dum aloo can be beguilingly complex, offering an explosion of flavours. Indeed, for thousands across J&K’s motley culinary tapestry, Kashmiri dum aloo is reminiscent of home and homeliness.
(Above): Dum aloo is a surprising amalgamation of gastronomic simplicity and sophistication. Photo courtesy of Pinterest
Health Benefits: Potatoes are a powerhouse of nutrition. They provide fiber, carbohydrates, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Condiments like fennel seed powder and ginger powder improve digestive health and prevent inflammation and infection.
In 2021, eating and eating habits are no longer what they used to be. The steady infiltration and acceptance of “foreign” foods in our daily diet – pizza, burgers, chow mein, pastries, processed cheese and meat, & plenty more – indicates that taste, not health, takes priority for most of us in matters of food. The fact that the local foods mentioned above remain an ever-reliable source of comfort and contentment – despite the refrigerator teeming with other choices – is a testament to their enduring goodness. Not to mention, astonishing ability to remind us of who we are and where we belong.
Nandini Sen, Content Writer
Smarth Arora from Jammu wins Mr India 2021
A production company, namely “Dreamz Production House” house, recently organised a fashion show under the banner of “Mr Super Model International 2021” in Lucknow. Several participants participated in the competition, but Smarth Arora from Jammu emerged as the show’s winner.
While sharing his experience with JK Media, Smarth said, “this was a 5-day competition, and it was full of ups and downs. There were several judges, and they not only judged us but also polished our skills. The company first conducted auditions in Jammu, and the semi-final and final was in Jammu, where I emerged as the winner”.
“Fitness was my passion, and from 9th standard, I was going to the gym. So when Dreamz production gave me an opportunity for modelling, I took the chance and won this trophy. However, for my parents, their priority is their studies. So even I have won this trophy for them, I should focus on my studies”, Smarth added.
Sultan from Rajouri becomes first Runner up in Mr. India Super Model International 2021
Sultan, a resident of Rajouri, Jammu, and Kashmir, has won the First Runner up in Mr India Super Model International 2021 Beauty Pageant.
Q. Congratulations, Sultan! How has your journey been?
First of all, thank you. The journey has been incredible. One of my friends informed me about the Talent contest being organized by Sharad Choudhary. I auditioned for it and fortunately got selected. Then, I prepared for the semi-finals to be held in Lucknow. There were acting and grooming sessions too.
The production house provided suitable outfits, food, and all the other facilities. At the grand finale, our jury members were Rohit Khandelwal, Prince Narula, Yuvika Choudhary, and Priyank Sharma. I’m thankful to all, especially Sharad Sir, who gave me this platform.
Q. In your introduction round, what did you say about Jammu and Kashmir?
Yes! I appreciated the beauty of Rajouri and the entire UT of Jammu and Kashmir. I invited everyone as well to visit and enjoy the beautiful mountains of J&K. Rajouri is blessed with Dargah Sharif, which is world-famous, and also the Mughal road.
Q. We’ve heard you like acting since childhood. Where did that come from? And what are your plans for the future?
Since childhood, I’ve loved acting. I was never good at studies, not even business (laughs). Now that God has given me the opportunity of this Talent contest, I’ll utilize it thoroughly. I have joined acting and dancing classes. Since I’m a little weak in English, I’ve joined English-speaking courses also. It’s just that I want to feel confident.
Q. Great! What was your parents’ reaction when you told them about the trophy?
My parents are thrilled after seeing my trophy. I got emotional on the stage while receiving the award because I wanted my parents to be there. Everyone in Rajouri appreciates me for the results, and I feel blessed to have good people around me.
Q. We are very proud of you, Sultan. Any message for the youngsters aspiring to become Models?
I feel Jammu and Kashmir are blessed to have good Directors, Producers, and Talent hunters visiting here. I suggest youngsters grab the opportunities that give them a platform. Many consider talent contests as fake, but it isn’t the truth. People want to pick you up and introduce you to the world.
Stay away from drugs, encourage yourself and develop good qualities. Trust me; you will win in life.
Muskan Langoo, Content writer, JK Media
Anantnag firing incident: Yasir safe, Police Verifying Facts About him: SHO
Police are verifying the antecedents of Yasir Ali, whose identity card was found from a civilian killed in paramilitary personnel’s firing in Anantnag district late Thursday evening. Yasir Ali, a resident of Jhajjar Kotli, is a truck/trawler driver by profession, according to the Panch of his village, Saleem Ahmed. Ahmed claimed that Ali had called him three or four days back and informed him that he had lost his wallet, carrying an identity card etc.
SHO Jhajjar Kotli, Devinder Singh also confirmed that Yasir, a resident of Jhajjar Kotli, was not killed in last evening’s firing incident at Anantnag. When asked if Yasir was being questioned in Ramban, the SHO said, “We are verifying the facts about him as to whether he is telling the truth or not. However, the case will be handled by Anantnag police.”
“He called me three-four days back and informed me that he lost his wallet,” the Panch of Jhajjar Kotli said. He said, “Yesterday, there was panic among the people after they came to know that someone identified as Yasir Ali was killed in Anantnag.”
He, however, said, “The things were clear once we verified it from the police. The man, who was killed in the firing, was not Yasir. However, the identity card of Yasir was found in his possession, which led to speculation that the local youth from Jhajjar Kotli had been killed.”
“Police had come last evening at their residence for verification purposes,” he added. He said that he had learnt that Yasir was in Ramban.
Pertinently, a civilian was killed when Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel opened fire at a Scorpio vehicle in Monghal bridge, Anantnag, Thursday evening.
The suspected vehicle was without a registration number plate, and it was fired upon after the car rushed towards the Naka despite being challenged by the troops on duty, the police said.
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