Hokh Syun reminds me of the time when I used to see garlands strung from most windows, especially in downtown areas of Srinagar, in my childhood
Hokh Syun or sun-dried vegetables are known for their use during the harsh winter months in Kashmir. Sun drying extends the shelf-life of vegetables and thus they can be stored for long periods. Until a few years back, one could notice garlands of dried vegetables hanging on the walls of houses across Kashmir. But over the years this practice has started dwindling in Kashmir.
A number of dried vegetables such as brinjal (Wangan Hach), tomatoes (Ruwangan Hach), turnip (Gogji Are), and bottle gourd (Al Hach) are sun dried during summers. Amongst them, Gogji is an amazing dish, a delight to any vegetarian taste bud. Not just in Kashmir, Italian sun-dried tomatoes are sold in the rest of the world at a hefty premium.
The best way of preserving vegetables is through drying. Drying, or dehydrating, is the process of removing excess water from food. Removing the water not only lengthens the vegetable’s shelf-life, it also prevents microorganisms from growing. Most of the vegetables in Kashmir are dried during summer, so that one can consume them later, in the long, extreme winters.
Hokh Syun reminds me of the time when I used to see garlands strung from most windows, especially those in downtown areas of Srinagar, in my childhood. It used to be an annual practice for rich and poor alike. Today, everything is available in the market. Why would anyone spend so much time and energy on Hokh Syun?
The improved connectivity with plains areas and better per capita income has increased availability of fresh vegetables across Kashmir and reduced the consumption of Hokh Syun. Most shops selling dried food in the Jamia Masjid area have either closed down or switched to more profitable trades.
In my opinion, the best way to promote Kashmir’s authentic Hokh Syun could be through social media with high-quality, tantalising photos. Visual content is in high demand nowadays, and delicious-looking photos of Hokh Syun posted on various social media outlets are sure to grab eyeballs.
The writer is a master’s student of Forestry at Faculty of Forestry, SKUAST-K. [email protected]