Heaven In A Teacup: Tracing The Origin Of Kashmiri Kahwa

L: faeez_mohamed ; R: alemarichata
L: faeez_mohamed ; R: alemarichata

The deep love for chai is evident through the many blogs dedicated to the sheer power of its aroma, coffee similarly has the culture in its grip. The greatness of a comforting beverage is unmatched, as each one of us has a select drink that helps us unwind during the day and a wide assortment of coffee and tea options in the market provides us with an opportunity to find our sip of calmness.

Although blinded by the glory of these options you might be missing a gem that remains a hidden secret of the Himalayas, the spicy and aromatic beverage that is also described as a ‘magic tea’. A cup of the beloved Kashmiri Kahwa can refresh you like no other, with a fragrance that brings instant tranquillity and comfort. The beverage also comes with a wide range of variations to play around with!

Kahwa, is a brew that holds the power to transport you to the pristine land of Kashmir with a single sip. Older generations believe that the tea was introduced to India through the notorious Spice Routes while others are inclined towards the theory that the Kahwa tea leaves originated in the Yarkand valley during the reign of the Kushan Empire in the 1st and 2nd century AD.

The tea is widely loved across Central Asia with a strong presence in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and other regions. Kahwa, also spelled as Kehwa or Kahwah, has origins in the Arabic language and is now an integral part of Kashmiri cuisine. The unique recipe laced with cinnamon and hints of cardamom, green tea, crushed almonds, cloves and its special ingredient –– Kashmiri rose is nothing short of heaven in a teacup.

I was once served Kahwa with a drop of honey, as my friend shared that the version of the drink prepared in their home is supposed to taste like chashni (sugar syrup). Each Kashmiri mother has her own unique iteration of the Kahwa reflecting the versatility of the beverage. Some also add pistachios, apricots, pine nuts, and dried cherries, while others incline towards a warmer recipe with walnuts, dates, and cashew nuts.

Image Courtesy: WhiskAffair

Beyond the rich taste, Kahwa is also a medicinal secret of the valley. With many health benefits, the magic tea is enough to soothe and help you recover from a sore throat. Furthermore, the nutrients present can help strengthen your immune system and digestion. Kahwa is also an excellent remedy in stressful times as it relieves the nervous system and lifts our mood as well.

The flavourful drink has three famous versions; Classical Kahwa, Doodh Kahwa, and Shangri Kahwa. Over the years many brands have now crafted their unique versions of the famous tea, experimenting with the recipe and offering exquisite blends that incorporate other widely loved flavours from India such as those found in masala chai.

If you’re someone who is always on the lookout for interesting beverages with notes of Indian fragrances and spices, Kahwa is a perfect choice. It is a reminder of cultural heritage; offering a truly rich taste palette that has to be savoured.

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