by  Shyam Rani Kilam and S. S. Kaul Kilam



'Shier Chay'

(E-Salted Tea) (H-'Namkin Chay')

'Shier Chay' is the popular form of beverage, prepared by Kashmiris, especially Muslims. Like 'Green Tea', the Tea for preparing this, is also im-ported from outside Kashmir and is called 'Pahaer Chay'. This is also a form of 'Green Tea', made from somewhat mature Tea leaves. It is also processed like 'Green Tea' for 'Qahva'. 'Sabz Chay' for 'Qahva' comes in the form of rolled greenish granules or Bricks, while, 'Pahaer Chay' is rolled into small strings of blackish colour. For almost all Kashmir Muslims, 'Shier Chay' or 'Noon Chay', as they call it, is a must at breakfast and in the afternoon. 'Shir' in Persian means Milk. 'Qahva' is a Sweet Condimented infusion of Tea, taken without milk, while Tea to which Milk and Salt is added, is called 'Shier Chay' or 'Milk Tea'. Its main Ingredients are, 'Pahari' Tea leaves, Soda bi Carb, Salt, water and Milk. Kashmiri Pandits, who drink it only occasionally, especially alter Meals, Condiment it, and make it rich, usually by adding Green Cardamoms, Poppy Seeds, 'Malayi' (Skim of boiled Milk), and crushed Almond Kernels etc. They believe that it helps digestion after a hearty Meal.

Oolong tea, made from partially fermented tea leaves is also used for 'Shier Chay'.


1. Pahari Tea Leaves 2 tsps
2. Soda bi Carb a pinch or two
3. Salt 1 tsp. or to taste
4. Milk 1/2 litre
5. Cream or 'Malayi' 250 gm
6. Green Cardamoms 6 nos
7. Almond Kemels 6 nos
8. Poppy Seeds 1 tsp
9. Black Pepper Corns 2 nos
10. Cinnamon 2 pieces
11. Green Ginger or Dry Ginger a piece
(Items 5 to 11 optional and are added by Pandits mainly).

Method of Preparation

In a steel or tinned, copper or brass 'Patila', of about 3 litre capacity, boil on medium heat, 1/2 litre of water to which 2 teaspoons of 'Pahari' TeaLeaves, and a pinch or two of a Soda bi Carb (H-'Mitha Soda') have been added. When, after about 15 minutes, the infusion boils down, to one thirds of its original volume, to a concentrated reddish liquor, add about a litre of water, and the half litre of Milk. The Tea will now be of 'Peach flower colour', the colour it is desired to be. Add the Dry Ginger piece after crushing it a bit or sliced Green Ginger, the Cinnamon bark chips, crushed Almond Kernels, along with 'Malayi' or the Cream. Stir after boiling for a few minutes more, and the 'Shier Chay' is ready. It used to be served in Bronze Cups by Pandits or handleless porcelain Bowls, (K - 'Chin Pyala'.) by Muslims. Nowadays modern crockery is used for service.

A 'Telavoer', 'Katalama', or a 'Kuelcha' is generally served with the 'Shier Chay', especially at Breakfast or at Afternoon Tea. These are small 'Bun' shaped Cakes of about 3" to 4" in diameter, baked in a 'Tandur' (Oven) by a 'Nanvayi' or 'Kandur' (Baker), as he is called in Kashmir. 'Telavaer' are made from well fermented dough of whole wheat flour, and their tops are sprinkled with Sesame Seeds (K-'Tel'), before baking. 'Katlama', are made from sifted flour (H-'Maida') with 'Ghi' rubbed in, while kneading by hand, and are baked like patties having many crisp, layers. 'Kuclcha' are made from fermented 'Maida' and baked crisp and sometimes their tops are sprinkled with Poppy Seeds. These are also sometimes Sweetened or Salted, and Condimented with Cardamom Seeds or Aniseeds respectively. 'Malayi', mentioned above, is the skimmed top of Milk boiled and then cooled. It is rich in Fats and Proteins.

The 'Nanvayis' or 'Kandar', bake the 'Telavaer', 'Katalam' and 'Kuelcha', along with breads called 'Choechi', 'Girda' and 'Bagirkhani' (flat rounds with raised rims, of leavened wheat dough), every day early in the morning or in the afternoon, to supply these baked, hot from the oven breads, for Breakfast and Evening Teas, of Kashmiris.

'Katlam' or 'Kuelcha', and also 'Khatay Kuelchi' (Sweet or Salted), are usually eaten with 'Qahva'.

At Breakfast freshly baked 'Choechi' and 'Girda' are commonly eaten with 'Qahva' or 'Shier Chay' in Kashmir.

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