Kashmiri cuisine is recognised for its different meat delicacies which are prepared with care and precision using a variety of spices and flavouring agents. If you attend a Kashmiri feast, you will undoubtedly encounter Yakhni, one of the region's most popular meat dishes. Non-vegetarians will enjoy the silky smooth curry with falling-off-the-bone meat.
Combine it with a platter of fragrant pulao full of dry fruits and nuts, and you'll have a supper to remember for the rest of your life. Yes, even with its subtle flavouring, it has that kind of strength. Yakhni is a light curry or stew that must contain two key ingredients in addition to the meat: yoghurt and saffron (Kesar). The yoghurt provides richness to the broth, while the saffron gives a tantalising flavour. You need to labour a little before being able to relish the slow-cooked dish.
During Akbar's reign in Kashmir, Yakhni became well-known. Persian cuisine had yoghurt-based meat curries, and when the Emperor seized Persia in 1586, he adopted this style of cooking to his new state. In reality, Akhbar had a huge influence on the present prevalence of the variety of northern Indian regional cuisines, which have since grown into distinct cuisines in their own right.
Yakhni dishes can also be found in Greek and Turkish cuisines, however, the absence of tomatoes distinguishes Kashmiri Yakhni. Certain recipes also exclude onions and garlic, as the Kashmiri pandits did not cook with those ingredients. When practically all Indian curry recipes called for turmeric, onions, and tomatoes as primary components, Yakhni stood out.
While originally Yakhni meant a light curry made with lamb, mutton or chicken meat, over the years it has gone on to include chicken and even vegetarian versions like Lotus stem Yakhni (Nadur Yakhni).
So, How is Yakhni made?
The meat is first cooked with a handful of spices to create an aromatic broth, then the pieces are removed and the yoghurt is added and simmered. The meat pieces are added again to the broth, which is then slow-cooked for a further period of time to achieve the silky texture with delicate meat.
The spices that are commonly added are fennel seeds, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, among others. Another variation of Yakhni is the Yakhni Pulao, where rice is cooked in the broth along with the meat pieces to prepare a delectable meal. It is also referred to as Yakhni Biryani and is served commonly with a side of raita.
So, try your hands on Kashmiri Yakhni and happy cooking !!