‘Wazwan’, a multi-course meal in the Kashmiri tradition, is treated with great respect. Its preparation is considered an art. Almost all the dishes are meat-based . It is considered almost a sacrilege to serve any dishes based around pulses or lentils during this feast. Hours of cooking and days of planning go into the making and serving of a wazwan. The preparation is traditionally done by a vasta waza, or head chef, with the assistance of a court of wazas, or chefs.
Guests are grouped into fours for the serving. The meal begins with ritual washing of hands, as a jug and basin called the tash-t-nari are passed among the guests. A large serving dish piled high with heaps of rice, decorated and quartered by four seekh kababs, four pieces of meth maaz, two tabak maaz, sides of barbecued ribs, and one safed kokur (white chicken), one zafrani kokur (masala chicken), along with other dishes is brought on. The meal is garnished with Kashmiri saffron, salads, Kashmiri pickles and dips. Kashmiri Wazwan is generally prepared in marriages and other special functions. The culinary art is learnt through heredity and is rarely passed outside blood relations. That has made certain waza/cook families very prominent. The wazas remain in great demand during the marriage season (May – October).
The meal concludes with the Gushtaba, a very exclusive dish, and one that is never refused, Phirni for dessert and a cup of ‘Kahwah’, the green tea flavored with saffron, cardamom and almonds. This is a meal that is an experience in Kashmiri hospitality.