SRINAGAR: While Kashmir’s trade ties with Yarkand—now China’s autonomous province Xinjiang Uyghur—broke long back, two bakers in Safa Kadal locality of old Srinagar are keeping alive a food souvenir to remind people of the delicious association that the Valley shared with the erstwhile Central Asian region.
Gosh Nan—bread made with mutton and flour—is an ethnic food from Yarkand. In 19th century, it is believed, the merchants and scholars who traveled to the Valley via silk route introduced the food in Kashmir Valley where it was subsequently accepted as a delicacy.
And about two centuries later, when the relationship between Kashmir and Yarkand is only a rare secondhand memory, bakers Abdul Majeed Sofi and Mushtaq Ahmad Sofi are letting the people in the Valley have a taste of Gosh Nan.
On the banks of Jhelum in Safa Kadal here, Abdul runs a bakery, named Yarkand Bakery, which is famous only for selling Gosh Nan. He, along with Mushtaq, is the only person who knows how to prepare the delicacy.
“There is a limited clientele for this kind of a food,” Abdul told Kashmir Reader.
“Only people who have tasted Gosh Nan before come to us with orders. And we make it for them on demand, after they have booked an order in advance.”
The middle-aged man has learned the recipe from his forefathers, who, in turn, had acquired the skill from their Yarkandi neighbours.
“Many Yarkandi bakers settled in old city after arriving in Kashmir through the silk route. My forefathers lived in their company and learned the recipe. Since then, our family has been famous for making Gosh Nan and we continue to preserve this reminiscent symbol of Kashmir-Yarkand ties,” he said.
The remains of the inn “in which the Yarkandi bakers stayed before migrating to Turkey in 1976” still exist in the interiors of Safa Kadal, said elderly Bashir Ahmad Zargar, a resident of Safa Kadal.
Mushtaq is also an expert in making Gosh Nan, but it isn’t the only Yarkandi food he can make and sell; he also makes Samsokh, which is like a Samosa stuffed with mutton, and Nan used specifically by Yarkandi people.
The Gosh Nan, according to Mushtaq, is prepared by mixing minced mutton with flour. With a kilogram of mutton, only about six or seven pieces of bread can be prepared. Gosh Nan, as well as Samsokh, is baked in a firewood-heated traditional oven at a specific temperature.
He said the demand for the delicacy skyrockets in Ramadan.
“Sometimes, we have to turn down the orders, because there is so much rush that we fall short of manpower,” he said.