The wafting aroma of delicacies is so innate to any festive ambience as the candlelight dinner amid soft music being one of the picture-perfect imageries to the feeling of romance.
Like elsewhere in the world, the festival time is the perfect time to rejoice, to reinvigorate the pooped spirits by drenching them in celebrations with the family and friends over an exotic blend of traditional mouth-watering cuisines and festival-specific delicacies in the land of valorous Dogras also.
The festive season offers a good opportunity to enjoy a sojourn into the world of good food and fine flavours of seasonal delicacies. Yet real festive flavour with umpteen traditional delectable dishes one would be able to discover in the countryside, in sleepy hamlets rather than in the urban areas which are fast losing the fresh aroma of time-honoured, conventional delights.
While the urbanites in Jammu in majority of the cases have substituted the traditional delicacies with the popular varieties of sweet and savoury dishes, common across India, the ruralites, to a great extent, have preserved the traditional flavours of the Royal Kitchen of Dogra rulers.
In the last couple of years constant rush of pilgrims and ever burgeoning floating population, especially during the festive season, has altered food habits of local people here as well.
Mushrooming of ‘theme’ restaurants and the arrival of famous fast food brands has added more flavour to the festive plate. For vegetarians the options are unlimited. Almost all the eating joints and big restaurants here in Jammu have done their best to preserve the original flavours from the ‘Royal kitchen of Dogra’ rulers.
Starting from basic food ingredients, style of cooking, utensils in which certain dishes are best cooked the restaurants have done their best to preserve the aroma of food and its richness. Most of the dishes are cooked in pure ‘desi ghee’ and good chefs prefer fire wood than gas stoves as medium of cooking even inside commercial kitchens.
The list of delicacies which are in great demand during the festive season is endless viz., Ambal, Dal, Rajma (रायमा), Kadhi(कढ़ी), Auriya(औरिया), Meethe Chaul (मीठे चौल), Kheer, Meetha Madra(मीठा मदरा), Maalpuye (Purey), Suchiyaan(सूचियाँ), Kyur(क्यूर), Guchhiaan(गुछियाँ), Khameere(खामीरे), Babbroo(बब्बरू), Rutt(रूट), Seeripala(सीरिपला), Meethi Sewaiyaan, Phirni etc. fill the morning breakfast and lunch menu.
The evenings are reserved for more rich varieties of food. For those who do not prefer eating out organise feasts at home and invite friends and close relatives to enjoy the festival spirit.
Women dressed in their traditional attire use the rare occasion of family get togethers to perfect the art of cooking and exchange cooking tips, sometimes taking help from grannies to add extra flavour to their dishes.
The young ones use the occasion to learn the art of cooking and innovate with the traditional tastes.
For meat eaters, Kashmiri wazwan served across select restaurants in old city area of Jammu still remains the top priority. The real foodies even travel extra miles in search of best highway dhabas and road side eateries which offer the best varieties of red meat and chicken delicacies.Fish is in great demand during the festival season in Jammu and large quantities are imported from outside the state to fulfill the growing demand during the festive season.
In the country-side, in fact the occasion is just right for the women-folk to display and surprise with their special culinary skills as they prepare umpteen delicacies in earthen pots to make happy all and cajole even those showing frayed nerves.
It is just that one has to choose from different sessions of appetizers, snacks or the main course as per the delightful aroma and luscious taste of these delicacies which lingered on in the air throughout the festival season in the entire length and breadth of Jammu region.