According to wiki, Fusion cuisine is cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions. And that is exactly what my mom did when she made the Tamatar Chaaman – paneer with tomatoes, though she did not label it as fusion. She took elements from the Kashmiri Muslim cuisine and elements of the Kashmiri Pandit cuisine and made an extraordinary dish called the tamatar chaman – Paneer with Tomatoes.
Use of onions, shallots and garlic is prevalent in the Kashmiri Muslim cuisine, be it the home cooking or the much fabled “Wazwaan”. On the other hand Kashmiri Pandit cuisine is sans onions and garlic especially in the “saal”, which is the equivalent of Wazwaan. The use of onions, in Pandit homes was allowed to an extent, in certain homely dishes but the use of garlic and shallots was unheard of.
Having lived and worked most of her life in the beautiful Kaprin, the population of which is 99.9% Muslim, she was introduced to their wonderful cuisine. And with that introduction, her fusion dishes started to make way into our daily food. For most part, she would eliminate the onions and garlic and base the dish on a traditional Kashmiri Pandit technique and use some elements of the Muslim cuisine. The resulting dishes were sublime.
The tamatar chaaman is a fusion between the wazwaan style Ruwaangan chaaman and the saal style Wozij chaaman. The main elements in the Ruwaangan chaaman are tomatoes, fried onions, garlic and red chillies with silky soft paneer, whereas the wozij chaaman is silky soft paneer cooked in fennel seed powder, red chillies and a dash of yogurt.
Taking the onions and garlic away, and introducing the tomatoes to the paneer and fennel preparation makes this dish a great fusion. It also makes it a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
Enjoy and Stay Blessed