Jammu to Gulmarg Food Journey
By Anubhav Sapra
After an amazing street food journey in Jammu, it was time to move on to the next destination – Kashmir and Ladakh. In this blog, we would be covering the journey from Jammu to Gulmarg.
Route Map- Jammu-Udhampur-Samroli-Peerah-Ramban-Banihal-Qazikund-Srinagar-Gulmarg
The condition of the roads is quite bad from Udhampur to Qazikund. So, be prepared for a bumpy ride.
Food Map- Samoli-Peerah-Qazikund-Tangmarg-Gulmarg—Makasi sout-Rajma Chawal-Rista and kebab-Daniwal Korma
YouTube video link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhsALpRA_Po
The terrain completely changes once you cross Udhampur. After a 12 kms drive from Udhampur is a small village Samroli known for Patissa and Makai roti with makai sout. The most famous shop is Prem Di Hatti. It has become so popular that most of the shops claim to be the original Prem Di Hatti. After enquiring the locals, we managed to spot the real Prem Di Hatti with a red coloured board saying: Estd 1925, founder Pd Lok Nath Khajuria. We tried Patissa, a flaky and crispy sweet made up of gram flour.
And then came my first encounter with nun chai- the salty tea. I tried it with the local delicacy makai sout (roasted corn flour) and makai roti (corn flour flatbread). I will talk about my experience of salty chai in next blog as it is the breakfast tea in Kashmir eaten with lavassa. Here in Samroli, I spotted many locals mixing the sout in the tea and eating it with the spoon. I also tried the local way and had makai roti with nun chai. Indeed, a new experience for me.
After having our evening nun chai, the next stop was Peerah. This was one place recommended by everyone for Rajma Chawal and Dal Chawal. Being a Punjabi, I have grown up eating rajma chawal and let me make a confession that Rajma Chawal is one dish I can eat every day IF it is cooked by mom. Once you reach Peerah, there are shops lined up selling the same dish. What makes it special is first, rajma is locally grown; second, the rajma is cooked over wooden fire that adds a special flavour; third, almost 50 gms of locally made ghee is poured over a plate of rajma chawal and lastly, anar dana chutney made in traditional stone grinder makes it a complete delectable meal to relish. I loved each bite of it.
We crossed India’s longest road tunnel, Chenani-Nashri tunnel, also known as Patni Top tunnel, with a length of 9.28 km on NH 44. It is the first tunnel in the country with a fully integrated tunnel control system. The tunnel reduces the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 km and cuts travel time by two hours.
We stopped midway for a cup of tea in Banihal and finally reached Qazikund at late night. In Qazikund, at a road side eatery, we stopped briefly for dal and roti making our way to Srinagar. It was a bit difficult to find a hotel in the night, but after some struggle we booked a hotel near Lal Chowk and stayed there overnight. Next morning we drove from Srinagar to Gulmarg.
At Tangmarg, Greenz Hotel was a perfect stop for Lunch. As we had pre-planned to have a complete wazwan experience in Jammu, the lunch here was simply of rista with kebabs. The kebabs in Kashmir are not melt in mouth of kind- you can taste the meat. My kind of kebabs as I don’t have much liking for melt-in-mouth of kebabs. The rista are meat balls cooked in red gravy. The meat is handpounded and a right amount of fat is added in to it. In Kashmir, when we say mutton, it is mostly sheep.
From Tangmarg, Gulmarg is just 12.4 kms. Situated in the Pir Pranjal range in western Himalayas, the drive is beautiful, passing through forests of pine and fir. Gulmarg is also noted for having one of the worlds highest Gondola (cable car). Winter sports are also quite popular in Gulmarg. After quickly taking a walk through the valley, we reached Hotel Nedous for a late lunch. Established in 1888 by Michael Adam Nedou, Hotel Nedou was a popular destination for British aristocrats and colonial government officials. The centre of the restaurant has a fire stove (bukhari) where one can warm up returning from their Gondola ride up in the Himalayas or playing winter sports. It keeps the place cosy for the meals. The food is all cooked fresh and the staff is courteous. Najwa had recommended that we try Daniwal korma, so we just ordered one dish with fresh roti. Daniwal korma is a simple dish cooked in yoghurt with coriander and butter. It was simply a delight to taste each bite of it.
That’s how we ended our food journey in Gulmarg. In the next blog, I will write about my Srinagar food journey curated by Najwa Andrabi (Instagram- @Kaeshirfoodie)
Until then, eat delicious!