Monday, September 30, 2013




 Popular kashmiri sayings about Haak go as under

“Gaarri Haak Paaeri  Haak
Naakhaai Paana Gaaeri Draakh ”

“ Aey Haak Tche Kattie Aakh
 Na Tche Noon Na Tche Paakh”

“Haak in the house  and Haak outside it 
 O Heart ! Why  you  leave the home? ”

“ O Haak ! Where did you come from ?
You neither need salt nor too much of boiling .”

And what would you do if you do not get  Haak in a Gurgaon shopping  Maal .Yes Buy spinach instead and cook it as Haak and  forget . On my recent visit to Gurgaon Haryana ,  I wrote a Poem on this issue  when i bought  green and leafy spinach   and  got it cooked as  Haak  . Here goes the poem...

(Paalak khaayi Haak samajh kar)
Haak doondanay hum gaye Gurgaavaan ke Mall
Haak shaak to na milaa Aaya hamein khayaal
Aaya hamein khayaal le Aayein Paalak Ghar mein
Mauj Kareingay issay Pakaa kar Harray mutter mein
paalak ke pattay Chaurray aur harrey harrey Thhay
Shelf toakray iss sabzi se bharrey bharrey Thhay
Ghar mein bolaa issay pateelay mein hi Pakaao
Haak samajh kar Gurgaon mein Paalak khaao

(Autar Mota   )

What is this HAAK ?
 Haak is a Green leafy vegetable essentially consumed by Kashmiris .  It is certainly an equivalent of  GREEN-- SAAG of  the Indian cuisine  .Kashmiris cook  it any day or every day. It is an essential dish in  kashmiri  Pandit  marriage functions  and is   gradually entering the kitchens of North India  . Kashmiris may call it by many names ; Kaanul Haak , Haanz Haak , Tolaa Haak ,G M Daaer Haak , Khaanyaaer Haak , Noor Bagh Haak and  Kaatchhi Haak but Haak as such belongs to  ACEPHALA  group of vegetables that also include Cabbage and broccoli . Kashmiris  also connect  other Green leafy vegetables with HAAK .I quote  Vopal Haak , Vostaa Haak , Mujji Haak and  Monji Haak .  

Kaanul is the early spring time  Haak tiny stems  . This Haak has  small and soft  sprouting green   leaves .  The summer Haak available in Kashmir is green leafy with wrinkles .The autumn Haak is  Green leafy   with  stems . The    sweet and tasty   green stems  of this Autumn Haak are also cooked along with Green leaves . These stems are called Kaatchhie in kashmiri accordingly  this Haak is known as Kaatchhie Haak .  Another tasty variety of Haak with  long and fleshy stems and green leaves grown in winter season  is known  Tolaa Haak .  All varieties of Haak  grown in Kashmir are tasty. The Haak Gravy or soup is known as Haak Russ .  Haaka Vaattir ( Haak Leaf ), Haak Boadh ( A small bundle of Haak leaves ), Haak Foatt ( A Basket for carrying Haak by sellers ), Haak  Door ( A bed of Haak ) , Haak Null ( Haak Stems ) ,Aaarum Vaaer  ( Haak Growing field ) and  Haak Raadh ( A floating space created over water for growing Haak .  This is seen in Dal lake   ) are quite popular terms with Kashmiris . It is believed that Hak was first cultivated by  ancient Greeks cultivated .

                                          ( Above  Haak Seeds meant for Germination )
                                      (  Above ..Varrie or  Kashmiri Masala Tikki  used for cooking Haak )
                                                         ( Above  Heeng (Asafoetida )  dissolved in Water  )
                                            ( Green chilies used for cooking Haak in Kashmir )
Americans call it  Collard Greens . It is also cultivated in Spain , PortugalBrazil , and  Africa .  It is also cultivated in Croatia, Bosnia and  Herzegovina ,Siberia and at  some places in China .

                                                ( Collard Greens grown in a pot in USA )
                                          ( Haak sellers on Foreshore Road  near Nishat Garden )
Do not be surprised when I say that Some communities in deep South especially Tamilnadu  cultivate Haak and call  Seemai Parattai Keerai .

            ( Winter Haak or Tolaa Haak sold in kashmir   along with Nadru or  Lotus  stems )
The kashmiri way of cooking Haak is meant to retain its aroma . Accordingly it is not laced with spices . It is carefully cleaned and leaves are plucked from long  stems .Haak should be cleaned for pests  and insects that thrive on the leafy green material . Just heat three four spoonfuls of mustard oil to flash point . Cool it down and add tow three cups of water , one or two green chilies possibly compact  . In case you want to add cut chilies  , remove seeds as these may spoil the taste . Add a few drops of  milky white liquid Heeng (asafoetida ) . Now add a pinch of salt . A pinch of kashmiri varrie ( ( Masala Tikki )  if available adds  specific kashmiri flavour to it. Do not worry if the same is not available as  Heeng mixed in water  shall take care of the flavour. Put washed Haak leaves in this mixture and cool stir it.  Now put the mixture over Gas Flame in a pressure cooker and boil it for two or three whistles. Remove the flame . Let it cool down. NEVER OPEN THE COOKER LID WHEN THE HAAK IS HOT. THAT REMOVES THE ENTIRE AROMA.  Let it cool and then serve . This is how kashmiri Pandits cook   Haak . Kashmiri muslims do not use Heeng (asafetida ). They also add  pinches  of some spices like Turmeric powder , red chilly powder  , Saunf powder , Suund powder and also a couple of garlic pieces .

 Haak provides the body with   various  Vitamins  especially Vitamin K and E  , calcium ,Iron .Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Zinc. It also contains proteins and carbohydrates apart from being a rich source of dietary  Fiber so essential for our intestines . A  recent news paper report informs as under

“Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3'-diindolylmethane in  collard greens is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent antiviral, antibacterial and anti cancer activity . Collard greens are also a high source of vitamin K (the clotting vitamin) and should be eaten in moderation by individuals taking blood thinners”.

So eat Haak as much as you can to prove the kashmiri saying

“ Buss Haak Ta  Bataa  Gutchi Poshunn ”
 “Let Haak and Rice  Be there for us ”

I end this brief post on Haak with lines from a Gazal of Noted kashmiri sufi poet  Wahaab Khaar

Shaam Sondarunn Burr Karnuss ta Lo Lo
Kaam Deevus log Par Muss Ta Lo Lo
 “Wahaab Khaar ” Chhuyee Deidi Tal Intezaarus
Chhuyee Praaraan Deedarus Ta Lo Lo
( Wahaab Khaar )

Shaam Sunder Has left me undone ,
My Kaamdeva  is now engrossed with others
Love !This wahaab Khaar  is waiting for  you at the gate ,
He waits now just to have your glimpse only .

( Autar Mota  30.09.2013 )

All photographs except one ( Collard greens grown in A pot in USA  ) clicked by the blogger.

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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