Customers from various areas of Kashmir have started thronging Rajpora village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district for buying, Shirmal, a specially baked bread which over the years has become a must on festive occasions like Eid.
Shirmal which weighs around 60 grams is a flat, circular and furrow surfaced bread daubed with sesame seeds.
Different bakers across Kashmir make this brown and crispy bread but the Shirmal of Rajpora has become very popular not among the local populace but people from far off places like Srinagar, North Kashmir and Budgam get to the village to purchase the Shirmal.
Bakers from Rajpora, a village around six kilometers from district headquarters, claim that their Shirmal is so much popular that they get orders from non- resident Kashmir’s settled in different countries including Saudi Arabia and America.
Mohammad Hussain Sofi is a young baker from Rajpora, who is in the business for last five years.
Hussain credits his father, Abdul Aziz Sofi as the master baker who taught others how to make Shirmal before he passed away in 2015.
He said that Rajpora Shirmal is popular among locals because they never compromised with quality.
“We ensure that the ingredients we put in it must be of good quality,” he said.
On Thursday up to one in the afternoon Hussain sold around 400 kilograms of Shirmal to his customers from various localities of Pulwama. He expects to sell around 4000 kilograms of Shirmal on this Eid.
Dr. Firdous, a resident of Pampore area of Pulwama said that he has been buying Rajpora Shirmal from the past nine years.
“Shirmal is one among the delicacies we consume on Eid,” he said, adding that without Shirmal they feel that something is missing.
Firdous, who brought four kilograms of Shirmal from Hussain, said they even sent it to their relatives in Srinagar as a gift on this festive occasion.
Bashir Ahmad Dar, a customer from Gusoo village around 12 kilometers from Rajpora brought one kilogram of Shirmal from Hussain.
He said that he has been buying Rajpora Shirmal from past eight years. “My family members insist for it because for them Shirmal is a must delicacy on Eid,” he said.
Another customer, Showket Ahmad, who hails from neighbouring Drabgam village, said that he has been buying Rajpora Shirmal for last many years now.
He said that bakers in his village too make Shirmal but that is not as sweet as Shirmal of Rajpora.
Shirmal, which is usually taken with Kashmir namkeen tea or Sheer Chai, has become an integral part of various social customs and traditions in Kashmir. It is consumed on engagement ceremonies, marriage ceremonies, on social gatherings like circumcisions (Khatan Haal) and on different religious ceremonies including Eid.
The bread comes in two varieties-sweet and salty. The sweet Shirmal is taken with Khewa, a spicy traditional green tea made without the addition of milk. The salty Shirmal is taken with Noon-chai or Sheer chai.
The sweet Shirmal is more sought after by the customers and is sold from Rupees 120 to 250 per kilograms depending up on the quantity of ghee added to it.