A breakfast to warm winter in Kashmir

A lamb dish called Harissa is a winter delicacy in Kashmir, but you have to wake up early to find it.

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    Manzoor Ahmed serves harissa on a cold morning.
    Bridgette Auger
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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

As the car winds through the old city, I worry that I’ll miss breakfast. Harissa, Kashmir’s winter delicacy, is for early risers. The puréed lamb with rice and spices is only served in a few areas of the city and usually only until 7 a.m. Thankfully, Kaka’s Café and House of Breakfast is still open.

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Manzoor Ahmed, the owner, says his family has been running the tiny restaurant for more than 600 years. Now considered a master, Mr. Ahmed has spent three decades catering to his early-morning customers. Sitting on a stone platform, he reaches chest deep into a huge clay pot in the floor where the lamb has been cooking for hours. His grease-stained hand scoops out a steaming helping of harissa with a silver ladle.

It doesn’t look appetizing, but the aroma is enticing and the taste amazing. Locals say it’s perfect for frigid winter mornings. I find it to be true, too.

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