For the best experience, open
https://m.greaterkashmir.com
on your mobile browser.

Fading Flames of Traditional Dambur

The age-old tradition of Dambur, the rustic mud-hearth, is now fading into obscurity
12:00 AM Mar 02, 2024 IST | MANZOOR AKASH
fading flames of traditional dambur
Advertisement

In the mystic Kashmir Valley, amidst the swirling mists and whispers of ancient tales, lies a relic of bygone days, now fading into the crevices of history—the traditional Dambur. Once the beating heart of Kashmiri kitchens, this humble mud Chulha holds within its clay walls the essence of a culture slowly slipping away.

Advertisement
   

In a world seduced by the allure of modernity, where one-touch gadgets reign supreme, the Dambur (also called Daan) stands as a testament to a simpler time, where the rhythm of life was measured by the crackle of its fire and the scent of slow-cooked meals wafting through the air. Though modern conveniences may have eclipsed its presence, they can never rival the magic it wove into every dish.

Advertisement

Once revered as the cornerstone of Kashmiri culture, the Dambur now languishes in obscurity, overshadowed by electric heaters and gas-stoves. Yet, its legacy lives on in the memories of those who remember its warmth and the nourishment it bestowed upon their homes. For many, it remains a symbol of Kashmiri syncretism, a hearth where all communities gathered to partake in its bounty.

For the women of Kashmir, Dambur held a special significance, believed to be a sacred gift from Hazrat Fatima (RA). It was not just a cooking apparatus but a revered icon, adorning the heart of every household. Crafted with the purest mud and husk, it was an art passed down through generations, a labor of love that infused each meal with tradition and heritage.

Advertisement

I recall the tales of my maternal grandmother Lt. Zoon Ded, renowned in her village for her mastery of the Dambur. Having made Dambur in almost every household, her arduous efforts would fetch her gifts later for the making. Her hands shaped not just clay but memories, as she imbued each hearth with the warmth of her love and the richness of Kashmiri cuisine. The slow cooking process, aided by traditional earthen pots, transformed simple ingredients into culinary delights, each bite a symphony of flavors and aromas.

Advertisement

We can’t disregard the times, when Dambur was the essential item of Daan Kuth (a room where Chulha was burnt, the warmth of which spread to turn the whole house cozier within, during harsh winters. For number of days was the newly made Dambur left for drying before the cooking started on it. And once the cooking on Dambur was over, women would polish it with viscous mud to give it a glossy look again, locally called Hurr Duyen.

Advertisement

Beyond its culinary prowess, the Dambur served as a hub of household activity, allowing women to multitask with ease as meals simmered over its gentle flame. Its fire, carefully tended, served not just for cooking but also for warming Kangris and preparing traditional teas like Nun Chai and Kahwa in traditional Somavar, ensuring that every aspect of Kashmiri life was intertwined with its presence.

Advertisement

Involving the use of traditional earthen pots that naturally added the unique flavour to dishes prepared on it by retaining moisture and aroma, slow-cooking on Dambur made food so delectable, nutrient-rich with a unique taste. Yajje, Sahb Daig, etc., our least made culinary delights, were kept on Dambur throughout night to cook slowly unlike modern styled cooking that deteriorates health by cooking food on harsh flame. Dambur allowed women to be simultaneously busy with other domestic chores.

While modernity may have dimmed the flame of the Dambur in many homes, there are still pockets where its virtues are celebrated and its legacy preserved. In these villages, where tradition reigns supreme, the Dambur remains the preferred mode of cooking, its slow-cooked meals a testament to the enduring allure of simplicity and tradition.

As we navigate the complexities of modern life, let us not forget the humble Dambur that once illuminated the heart of Kashmiri’s syncretic culture. Let us remember the Dambur, not just as a relic of the past, but as a beacon of tradition and a symbol of resilience in the face of change. For in its fading embers lies the spirit of a people, yearning to be remembered amidst the passage of time.

Advertisement