As winter sets in, demand for sundried vegetables picks up in Kashmir

Srinagar, Dec 12: With the onset of winter, the demand for dry vegetables locally called Hokh Syun has picked up in Kashmir.

“Hokh” means dry and “Syun” vegetable in the Kashmiri language.

“Hokh Syun” are dried and preserved vegetables consumed by people in Kashmir during winter.

They include brinjals, gourd, turnips, spinach, and tomatoes, all produced locally during the summers.

The sundried dried veggies have been popular among Kashmiris for centuries and consuming them in winters has been an age-old tradition.

As winter sets in, a large number of people throng local markets to buy the traditional sundried vegetables and smoked fish.

“The demand for sundried vegetables picks up from December to March,” said Ghulam Mohiuddin Akhoon, a dry vegetable vendor at Soura.

“These dried vegetables are known to keep you warm amid winter. Earlier, people mostly used to grow them at home, but now vendors across Srinagar and other towns sell these,” he said.

Besides the demand for sundried vegetables during winter, there is also a huge demand for smoked fish, locally referred to as Hok Gaad.

For centuries, vegetables have been preserved in this manner for consumption during the winter months in Kashmir.

It is a common sight during summer to find women engaged in preparing sundried vegetables.

The sundried vegetables are left to hang dry on the walls of the houses.

And, this centuries-old practice comes in handy during winters when the supply of fresh vegetables from the plains gets blocked at times due to the closure of roads, including the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway that connects Kashmir to the rest of the country.

Earlier, all requirements of sundried vegetables were met from domestically-dried vegetables.

But, over the years, it has emerged as a full-fledged business with makeshift shops selling sundried vegetables during winter in cities and towns in Kashmir.

Srinagar’s Batamaloo, Hazratbal, Soura and the old town are nodal markets for a variety of sundried vegetables.

Despite changes in eating patterns and tastes, besides the availability of modern dehydrated and processed vegetables in the market, sundried vegetables still find a place in most Kashmiri kitchens.
Many Kashmiris are so fastidious about the sundried vegetables that even while living outside Kashmir, they ensure that they get their supply from their native place.

The medicos have said that there is no harm in consuming sundried vegetables during winter unless preservatives are added to them and not taken frequently.

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