Food and culture: Cultural patterns related to food by indigenous communities in Kashmir – A Western Himalayan region
Background: Food and culture have both local and global implications. Through their distinct culinary habits, communities are linked to their culture. Foods can transmit a variety of cultural meanings in and of themselves. It describes the community's social standing, ethnicity, and income in addition to informing us about a specific event. A certain culture or sub-culture to which they belong passes down its food habits with great care.
Methods: Semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect information, whereas principal component analysis and Two-way cluster analysis was done to analyze the data using PAST software ver.3.14.
Results: The present study recorded 75 edible species used in cultural foods in the Kashmir valley. These species were grouped as animals (N=6), birds (N=12), fish (N=5), vegetables (N=27), spices (N=13), and fruits (N=12). In case of plants, fruit was the main part used, followed by seed, and leaf, similarly in animals, flesh was the most often used part. The maximum number of species reported from an ethnic group was by Kashmiri, while the Gujjar reported the minimum number of species used. During cultural usage, festivals and marriages showed greater similarity of species usage, whereas the least overlap was observed between funerals and marriages. In case of cultural recipes, festivals and marriages showed greater similarity, whereas the least overlap was observed between festivals and funerals.
Conclusion: According to the findings of the current study, all ethnic groups living the Kashmir valley have a profound cultural link to the flora and fauna, particularly when it comes to food. This is the first complete research of the flora and fauna utilized in diverse dishes in different ethnic groups' cultural events, and it will aid in the preservation of traditional gastronomic expertise in Kashmir's valley.
Keywords: Recipes; Cultural occasions; Ethnic groups; Marriage; Funeral; Festivals
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