Kashmiris love to have baker’s bread for their breakfast and hence, every Kashmiri colony has one traditional bakery known as ‘Kaandar/ Kandur’. Kandurs can be found everywhere in the cities, every locality will have one atleast. In Kashmir, there is a bread for every season. Bread is an integral part of social customs too – engagements, weddings, birth. Long before dawn, hundreds of baker families (Kandurs) in the Valley fire up wood tandoors and start making bread. These breads go well with salty pink tea called Nun chai. There are many types of traditional breads like chot, katlam, kulcha, lavaas etc.
This is a medium sized everyday bread. The simple one. Everyone has it for breakfast with butter or jam. This is prepared by kandur in tandoor (hot oven) on a daily basis by putting his finger impressions and then places it in tandoor. It’s golden on the upper side and white from below. A Kashmiri’s day is incomplete without czhot. This is one of the things that Kashmiris miss when they are not in Kashmir.
2. Ghyev czhot
This is the special kind of czhot/roti. It is made in the same way as simple czhot/roti with an addition of ghee to make it extra soft and then cooked in tandoor. It is used for special occasions such as Ramadan and served with wazwan in social functions.
Another kind of everyday bread is lavasa. It is a thin, large, unleavened flat bread, white in colour, made of maida (finely- milled wheat flour). It is a paper-thin blistered naan. One can also apply butter or jam to lavasa. Some lavasas are soft while others are crispy. It is also used to wrap barbequed meats and chickpeas (Masala lavasa).
Czochworu is the desi donut. It is a small, soft round bread of about three inches diameter and six inches circumference, with a soft upper half sprinkled with til (sesame seeds) or Khaskhash (poppy seeds) and the lower crust is crispy. It’s the evening/afternoon bread . Hot czhochworus are the best in taste. Butter or jam go with them as well. Some people like to dunk the chochwor in a cup of salted tea
The kandur also makes kulchas. Kulcha is a small, hard dry, crumbly bread, usually round in shape. It is decorated by placing a peanut in the centre of the upper face of the kulcha. It is also had for special occasions like on weddings, eid, etc.
There are many kinds of kulchas. They are as under:
a) Simple kind of kulcha with khaskhash (popply seeds) on it. Kulchas usually have a salty taste.
b) Another kind of kulcha resembles czochworu. So it is also called czochwor kulchè.
c) Sweet Kulcha/ Khatai is another type of kulcha which has a sugary taste. It is bigger than normal kulcha and melts in your mouth. Anantnag is famous for this Kulcha.
Pro Tip : Dunk your kulcha in Noon-chai and use a spoon to scoop out the creamy mixture.
Shirmal, also known as Krippè, is usually served with kehwa. It is a dry, crumbly bread with a long shelf life – salty as most kashmiri breads are. There are various kinds of sheermal and certain places are famous for being fresh and crispy. Pampore is one of them.
Katlam is usually crispy and thin.
This is more like puff pastry, cooked in layers and often served with kahwa. The bread is made by stretching a sheet of dough repeatedly and interleaving with ghee before baking in a tandoor. A large bakerkhwani ,made in ghee, is usually used as accompaniments to Chicken or rogan josh Trays/ Majmas in social customs like child birth, wedding, engagement etc. There is another type of Bakirkhan, in which halwa is rolled into bakirkhani which is called paratha and is distributed at sufi shrines on Urs or at community gathering.
9. Roth (Kashmiri Dry Fruit Cake)
It is a very large bread usually one-meter long, two and a half meter wide baked and garnished with dry fruits and silver foil. It holds its importance during weddings and is sent as a gift from the bride’s side which is called Roth Khaber. It is then distributed among family members.