Kashmir is a place known for its scenic beauty, but there are many more interesting things in Kashmir that add to its charm. Kashmiri people have their own way of life that is unique in itself, be it their dressing style or eating habits. They do it in their own special way, one such interesting preparation is Kashmiri Tea (Kashmiri Noon Chai or Salt Tea).
Lucknow adopted this delicacy with the arrival of Kashmiris and their ways of preparation. In the modern day, it has become a novelty of Lucknow and is sold at various locations in Old City. This special beverage was started by Ameer Ahmad in 1965 at the road side of Akbari Gate circle. Before that Ameer use to do a business of oil lamp but on the suggestion of his mother he started a business of Kashmiri tea. In 1971 Ameer had taken a shop on rent at Abdul Aziz road in Akbari Gate and handed over his business to his son Rasheed Ahmad. It is partnered with Baalaai and Taftan Samosa which makes the flavor of tea more rich and delicious. After a long period of life and business Rasheed Ahmad handed over his shop to his sons Waheed Ahmad and Moin Ahmad.
Kashmiri tea is made from the same tea leaves as green tea but its taste is quite different from that. It is salty and its color is also different from that of other varieties of tea. It is pinkish in color which makes it look attractive. It is perhaps the special way in which this tea is prepared that makes it taste incredibly good, it is served pouring hot that helps in beating the chill during winters.
However its preparation is a lengthy process but it refreshes the senses once it is made. The first step in its preparation is to boil the tea leaves in water along with some baking soda. The boiling process goes on for an hour or unless the tea leaves give their proper dark color. Then some milk, crushed almonds, cardamom and salt is added to it, and the pink Kashmiri Chai is ready to be served hot.
But the real taste of Kashmiri Chai can be enjoyed only when it is prepared in copper kettle or Kashmiri Samovar which is a metal container used to make the special Kashmiri Noon Chai by Kashmiri’s. It has a round chimney which is traditionally heated by coal or charcoal. Samovar is almost found in every house of Kashmir, as the Kashmiris are very fond of Kashmiri Noon Chai, and the best Kashmiri Noon Chai can be made only in a traditional samovar. It is one of the assets of Kashmiri culture. It is a ritual among Kashmiri’s to have a daily dose of Kashmiri Noon Chai both in morning and in the evening and now it is followed in Lucknow also. Though it is enjoyed by Lucknowite in every season, but in winters it helps them to fight chilly weather. It keeps them warm from inside. Kashmiri Noon Chai is served in traditional Kashmiri cups. In olden days household is considered to be incomplete without a samovar and in the morning all family members gather round a Samovar to enjoy a special cup of Kashmiri Noon Chai so as to refresh their senses. The Kashmiri Noon Chai, Samovar and traditional cups together depict the unique culture of Kashmir in Lucknow.
Writer is from Jammu & Kashmir and has been involved in writing for Newspapers & Magazines.
(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 1 Issue 11, Dated 05 February 2015)