The age old 'Kashmiri masala Tikki' or 'Marzcwangen verr' even now continues to be an important slice of appetizing cuisines which are prepared in Kashmir valley.
It was a common scene in yesteryears of Kashmir to see women grinding different spices in motars with pestle in their courtyards.
Those days women would make a sufficient amount of Marzwangan Ver, a traditional spice mixture, used to add taste and flavour to various dishes and cuisine.
Marzwagan is Kashmiri word for Red Chilli and Ver for Cake.
The women would collect different spices including Garlic, Red Chilli , Mustard Oil, Shallots, Cumin, Coriander, Ginger, Cloves and Cardamoms.
The mixture was put into a mortar and grinded with a pestle to obtain a fine paste.
The paste was cut into sphere shapes with a hole in the center. These spherical cakes were locally named as Ver. Since Chilli powder was predominantly used so it was referred to as Marzwangan Ver. The cakes were sun dried for some days on rooftops or attics.
The crispy and brittle cakes were stored at home. Small amounts were pinched off as per need, crumbled and then sprinkled over many foods to give them a Kashmiri flavour.
Over the years the tradition of making Marzwangan ver at home somehow one down.
However, many families still make them with great zeal.
Like in any other kashmiri household ,Irshad Ahmad Dar, a progressive farmer from Patalbagh village of Pampore, is one among those who is making the Ver from past three years at his home and is helped by other family members including mother and wife.
He makes around 300 cakes to sell it to an elite group of customers.
“ I sell these spice cakes locally as well as to customers from outside Kashmir,” he said, adding that majority of his customers are administrative officers, agriculture scientists and bureaucrats.
Irshad uses modern gadgets like mixers and grinders to make a paste of different spices besides traditional churner like mortar and pestle.
“The ingredients I use are pure and organically grown in our fields,” Irshad sad, adding that the Ver adds flavour to different vegetable dishes and is specially used for Wazwaan dishes of Marzwangan Korma and Kebab.
He said that Ver can also be consumed after frying as a cutlet.
Irshad is not only keeping up with the tradition of Ver making but also making it more appealing to customers.
This year he has added tinges of locally grown saffron to Ver for adding its flavour.
“ Saffron will enhance its flavour and can be used as a remedy for running nose,” he said.
Ver making was a traditional way of preserving Garlic during winters in Kashmir. The Garlic bulbs start sprouting by February which reduces their usefulness as a spice.
But after processing in the form of Ver the sprouting is avoided. The Ver lasts up to the end of June.
Irshad said that he sells a 50 gram Ver for rupees 80 to 100.