Praan: Adding Flavor to Kashmir Wazwan

Kashmir Magazine

Abrar Nabi

Kashmiri cuisine is celebrated for its intricate flavours, relying on indigenous ingredients and time-honoured culinary techniques.
Among these ingredients, spring onions, known as “Praan” in the local language, stand out, lending their unique flavour to a multitude of Kashmiri dishes, from soups and stews to curries and kebabs.
The use of spring onions in Kashmiri cuisine has deep historical roots, closely intertwined with the region’s agricultural heritage. With its fertile soil and favourable climate, Kashmir has long been an agricultural hub. For generations, local farmers have cultivated spring onions, incorporating them into their traditional recipes.
However, it was during the 14th century that spring onions truly gained prominence in Kashmiri cuisine, thanks to the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s fondness for Kashmiri food. His court’s opulent feasts featured a diverse array of dishes, many of which prominently featured spring onions.
Over time, spring onions became an indispensable component of Kashmiri cuisine, particularly in the elaborate “wazwan” feasts, a cornerstone of the region’s culinary culture, often served at weddings and special occasions. No wazwan feast is deemed complete without the addition of spring onions, which impart a refreshing, aromatic note to the rich and spicy dishes that define the feast.
The Buthoo village earned renown for producing a prized ingredient of Kashmiri cuisine: organic spring onions. This unassuming vegetable, cherished for its delicate flavor and crisp texture, plays a pivotal role in enriching the famous Kashmiri wazwan, a multi-course traditional feast that holds a central place in the region’s culinary legacy.
The organic spring onions cultivated in Bandipora are esteemed for their distinctive flavor and aroma, a result of the area’s unique soil and climate conditions. Typically harvested in late spring when they are at their most tender and flavorful, these onions undergo meticulous cleaning and packaging for sale, finding their way to the bustling markets of Srinagar.
Farmers in Buthoo village practice pesticide-free and sustainable spring onion cultivation, yielding an annual production of 1500 quintals, the highest in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mohammad Shafi Reshi, a farmer who annually sells five to ten quintals of spring onions, said that their pivotal role in Kashmiri cuisine, especially in the Wazwan feast. “It fills me with pride to know that our hard work contributes to preserving our cultural heritage and promoting our local cuisine,” he said.
For these farmers, cultivating organic spring onions is more than a livelihood; it is a means of preserving their traditional way of life and honouring their forebears. They take immense pride in growing these onions organically, viewing it as a passion and a heritage they’ve inherited.
Abdul Gani Reshi, another farmer, said that cultivating spring onions is not just a means of making a living but a way of honouring their ancestors and preserving their legacy. “We take great pride in farming these onions organically and maintaining their quality and taste,” he added.
Shahid Reshi, a young farmer, highlights the importance of sustainable farming practices. By cultivating spring onions organically, they ensure not only the health and safety of their customers but also the preservation of the environment for future generations.