The Wazwan

There is a storm over Dal Lake. My houseboat creaks and complains as I drift in and out of a fitful sleep. Rain torments the windows of the cabin in the darkness. A djinn takes my hand and ferries me across the water. I dream my way across jagged mountains and snowy peaks to a feast fit for an emperor. 
In the night, the cooks come to prepare the Wazwan, the great banquet of the far-off mountains of Kashmir. But what the djinn shows me might be a vision of some kind of hell. Firewood piled as high as a man as if for a funeral pyre; animals slaughtered and butchered. Great vats of meat boil and simmer. Men sweat and pant amidst the flames of a furnace: a wicked and vast open hearth. How can great food come from this? Such beauty from such butchery, finesse from such turmoil?

“Patience” says the djinn.


Kashmir is a crossroads and remains one of the great conflicted narratives of modern India. A land given, taken and fought over a thousand times as if in a story. When Timur (Tamerlane) invaded India in the fifteenth century from Persia, he came with an army of 1700 craftsmen. Woodcarvers, weavers, architects, calligraphers and cooks from Samarkand in Central Asia all settled in the lush Valley. The descendants of these cooks, known as Wazas, are the chefs of the Kashmiri feast, the Wazwan. Literally a cook-shop.
For centuries before, the Valley had been a confluence of belief and the coming of the armies had been prefigured by a syncretism of Hinduism and Sufism – a strand of tolerance and hospitality that still remains. Islam had been present in some form in Kashmir since at least the eighth century but it would take another eight centuries to become the majority faith. Kashmiri Muslims, according to the Victorian Walter Lawrence were “Hindoos at heart” and “saint worshippers”.

Professor Mohammed Asraf Warni welcomes me warmly to his office at Kashmir University. Through his large office window, I see earnest students wander in cheerful groups across manicured lawns to the block buildings that are the various departments. Peons come meekly for signatures and tea is brought. A fan grumbles overhead. The Professor, a small but effusive man used to grand public speaking, pours forth at great volume. 
“Kashmir is a mini global culture… and this is a colonised part of the world. Kashmir was occupied by so many different peoples – Indo-Greeks, Shakars, Kushars, Huns… So long ago, we used to be known as Nagas – snake worshippers …whose abodes were springs and lakes. Even today the people do not eat the fish from these sacred lakes”. Apart, that is he tells me with open disgust, the largely Hindu and Sikh Indian soldiers dug into the Valley fighting a hopeless and opaque separatist war, ignorant of local tradition. The Naga people, according to James Ferguson, author of Tree and Serpent Worship (1868) were an aboriginal race of Turanian stock across much of North India who were displaced by the Aryan invaders. Excavations at Bourzahama have established that there were significant Neolithic communities in Kashmir dating to at least 3000BC. Buddhism and Hinduism flourished and by the tenth century AD indigenous religious belief were somehow synthesised by the great Kashmiri philosophers Vasugupta and Abinav Gupta into a local versions of Shaivism (broadly speaking, worship of the God Shiva). The grandly named Mountstuart Elphinstone in his History of India called Kashmir “… the clearing house of several civilisations” and Aurel Stein, translator of the Rajatarangini (the River of Kings) notes that “Kashmir…is the only region of India which possesses an uninterrupted series of written records of its history”. A cooking pot of belief and peoples. As for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Kashmir “dominated the Indian intellectual scene…for almost 2000 years.”

Indeed, Kashmir retains a special place in the Indian imagination. It remains physically and emotionally far from the dusty plains of the lowlands. A cool paradise of mountains, its mystique very much tied up in its inaccessibility. The source of delicate saffron and (until recently) all manner of abundant fruit: apples, cherries, apricots. Otherness. As Professor Wani has it, “Kashmir was a world in itself – even today when the Valley is overcast with cloud, we have a saying - the whole world is under clouds. Our Valley is the whole world…”
That whole world however is, according to the novelist Nitasha Kaul, like the story of so many of the mountain people of Eurasia, a tragedy. Places that were historic “zones of contact” between peoples - Tibet, Nepal, Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran – where ideas and goods were exchanged freely along the arteries of the Silk Route are now, largely because of modern boundaries, “zones of conflict”. Kashmiris tell you often that they are not Indian and not Pakistani. They are Kashmiris and they are different.


Another army has camped. In the well-to-do southern suburb of Sant Nagar in Srinagar, a society wedding is underway. A new wedding hall, still being furiously painted by men on rickety bamboo ladders overlooks an enormous multi-coloured kitchen tent. The scene is incongruously dwarfed by two great electrical pylons standing like sentinels overhead. Military men, protecting exclusive guests from many sides of Kashmiri’s political and social elite, cradle automatic weapons and scratch themselves in the humid summer air. Relatives and friends sit around drinking endless cups of kahwa the delicate and fragrant Kashmiri tea, munch on crumbly, sweet biscuits and small hard round breads, kilcha, topped with poppy and sesame seeds.

Two of a trinity of brother-generals, Sharief and Shafi, stride amongst their men and the growing chaos that is an outdoor kitchen. Sons of the legendary Waza. Aziz Khan and claiming descendence from the most respected line, they are the royalty of Kashmir’s cooks. Vasta Wasas. Sharief, the eldest: broad, stocky and powerfully built – gentle eyes but quick to temper. A real cook. Shafi, long and slender with a dapper moustache is the diplomat, calm and collected. The family are known by their nickname, Shaitan (Satan) Waza, whispered in reverence and respect.

The brothers organise and marshal. This is how a military force cooks.
A nomad’s kitchen: an echo from the roads from Persia and beyond out in to the Steppe and the shadow of other mountains. 

A line of carefully placed burning chinar (maple) logs, perhaps thirty feet long acts as the cooking range; a vir in the local language. Started at dawn the embers glow angrily. Ash coats the men as they shake, stir and control the heat by moving the pots in and out of the fire, in a game of diabolic chess. 

Despite the pressure and the toil, I notice both brothers are smiling. This is their element. At one moment Sharief is quietly chopping cucumber with his men, at another checking the huge degs of steaming rice whose beaten metal-plate lids are sealed with tightly would strips of cloth soaked in water. Through the steam of the rice pots, Sharief is laughing. “Why should I be nervous?” he says.

In a secluded corner of the garden a flock of more than thirty sheep wait knowingly to be killed. They are pulled into a concrete shed and dispatched with a disgusting efficiency. Their siblings wait quietly and hopelessly to be butchered in the proscribed manner: their throats slit quickly, their blood run off into a gutter. The puj (butcher) is swift and methodical. They are skinned whilst warm and their choicest meat given to the apprentice Wazas to pound for at least four hours with a wooden mallet until it resembles a smooth pink paste. Only then will it be considered ready to cook for the ghustaba, a cricket ball of lamb stewed in yoghurt and cardamom. It is the final dish in the banquet and the Kashmiri’s call it ‘the full stop’.
At the range, the master chefs stir, season and taste constantly. There is no elaboration on the music. This is a proscribed symphony. The basic seven core dishes of the Wazwan must taste a certain way. The Wazas sample like cats: smearing a small amount of the scalding mixtures into their palm and slurping, tongue first. Around their hands, filthy rags wound tight like a boxers strapping to guard against the burning pots. The next instant the rags are flicked open in wide, languid arcs: draped debonair across a shoulder, staining the white kurtas yellow, green, red: the colours of the food. It seems as much performance as cooking.

Some of the male guests from the party come to stare and nod knowingly. They ‘ummm’ and ‘ahhh’ approval of the labour of their culinary heroes at what could be a scene from a braver, earlier time when the Kashmir’s streets weren’t full of camouflaged soldiers and checkpoints and painful memories. People are genuinely proud of the Wazwan. This is what Kashmiris have.

All the time there is the pounding of the mallets, sinews of meat destroyed by the smashing of the apprentice Wazas. A musical motif that has it’s own rhythm. As they hammer, the boys cheerily sing a Bollywood song, “Naach meri bulbul” (“dance my little darling, you’ll get the money…”). Brave crows walk amongst them daringly taking pieces of carrion discarded by the butcher’s cleaver. 

Zahour is 26 with piercing eyes and the face of a scared hawk. He squats on two bricks chopping and trimming a pile of golden fried ribs for the Tabakh Maaz. His fingers are stained yellow with turmeric like a manic smoker “I studied until the tenth standard but then left to apprentice to the Wazas. When I started I had to smash the meat … I did this for two or three years until I started cooking. This was my apprenticeship”. “I like very much the badam korma (tender mutton in a creamy almond sauce). It is my favourite dish and it is difficult to make… Inshallah I will open my own business in a few years…”
In contrast, Gulam Ahmed, 60, has seen it all before. “I started cooking forty years ago. Now I decide who I work with because I have the experience… You know, we used to cook more dishes in my day” he reminisces - perhaps a little too imaginatively so the younger cooks might hear. “Some feasts had a hundred dishes… we could make say ten to fifteen chicken dishes… the older times were better anyway”. He sips his tea, big beads of sweat dripping off his nose. “I cook at home sometimes, the wife is good, but I am the better chef.” 


“Actually” says Pushpesh Pant, “One should really talk of the cuisines of Kashmir.
Pant is a Professor of Diplomatic Studies at JNU in Delhi but also the author of the door-stopping India Cookbook, possibly the most exhaustive study of Indian recipes to date. Small, genial and with a full white beard we meet at his daughter’s house that is still being built in Gurgaon, Delhi’s upstart satellite sister. Like a favourite Uncle, Pant holds forth whilst a tired Labrador huffs at my feet in the oven-like summer heat.

He explains that there are actually two Wazwan streams. A Muslim one, and a Hindu Pandit (Kashmiri Hindu) one. The Pandits, whilst unusually sharing a love of lamb, have a sub-genre – a strictly vegetarian version (Vaishnavi) that is “best seen during ritual worship and weddings”. These strands for Pant mirror the previously rich syncretic diversity of the Valley. The basic differences according to Khrishna Prasad Dar’s wonderfully entertaining (and cartoon-filled) Kashmiri Cooking are few but significant. The Hindus used hing (asafoetida) and curd (yoghurt) in substitute for root vegetables; the Muslims, onions and garlic. Both prefer young sheep cut into large pieces and for both, Kashmiri cooking requires heat from top and the bottom, preferably on a log fire. 

A couple of hundred years ago, a handful of Pandit families moved from the Valley to Delhi, Agra, Allahabad and Lucknow. They took with then their foods and rose to serve the incumbent British administration. These families, the Nehru dynasty, the Dhars, Haksars and Kauls became very wealthy and, mixing with Hindus from these cities subtly changed their Wazwan in exile. A further Pandit exodus followed in the wake of terrible sectarian violence in the 1990’s and Kashmir has now been all but emptied of the once wealthy and disproportionally influential community. The Muslims, apart from a tiny elite, remained desperately poor. An apocryphal Kashmiri motif has it that most just had a Pheran (a poor, heavy cloak) and a fire-pot (Kangri) to keep warm. It is this poverty that the food writer Neeraja Mattoo has called (perhaps somewhat patronisingly) ‘the riches of poverty’. According to her, the winters made the Kashmiris value what was seasonably available and many recipes relied on sun-dried ingredients like turnips, quince, aubergine (used dried as a colouring for some Wazwan dishes) and even fish. This relentless poverty, reinforced by isolation meant that Wazwan – certainly the Pandit kind, remained the preserve of only the very wealthy. For Masood Kanth, the dry, measured Managing Editor of Al-Safar (the best selling Urdu daily in Kashmir) people in the Valley want three things. They want a home; to see their children married and to complete the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). All significant milestones in life are all marked with a Wazwan – now a catch-all term for a celebration. The common man aping a courtly feast. Valley life seems to have changed only after 1947 when small infrastructure projects opened-up Kashmir to outsiders and with it, a limited prosperity for some. This process for Pushpesh Pant darkly underlies the impossibility of recognising an authentic culinary cuisine. For him, “Kashmiri food is stuck in time. The Wazas will give you food that is not evolving but recreated for a tourist (Indian included) as a command performance…” For him, it is part of a larger problem with Indian food misinterpreted by three cardinal sins – what he calls “the Tyranny of the Tandoor, the Curse of the Curry and the myth of Mughal food”. Briefly, Pant contentiously argues that much of modern Indian cooking may be a reinterpretation of elite cuisine. Mughal food today evolved after the decline of the line that was little interested in (traditionally Indian peasant) food. Its heritage was destroyed by the British and evolved under cooks that had fled to areas of relative stability (Ranpur, Allahabad). Punjabi food evolved after the Partition and was reimagined (ghee-heavy) by a newly wealthy class to symbolise their modern, hard-won riches. The tandoor, although figuring large in pre-history is similarly exaggerated. For Pant, Wazwan has to be seen through this – almost self-aggrandising - Orientalist prism. Further, Rayjashree Khushi-Lahiri a professor at IIT in Rookoree agrees that along with much regional cuisine, India’s food is becoming (perhaps with the new middle classes’ desire to be fashionable) internally “exotified”.

None of this matters in Srinagar under a cloudless blue sky. This is the third day of cooking for the Wazas and, as some are chopping great mounds of vegetables, others sleep piled next to each other in the tent exhausted. Others smoke a hookah pipe to stay awake. The cooking has continued overnight: some dishes require long gentle braising and the men take three hour watches, tending their fiery charges like expectant fathers. Today is the turn of the women to celebrate and many of the previous days’ dishes must be cooked again. “The only difference being” says Mohammed Ayub, a giant bear of a man and one of the main cooks, “is that the women are always late…” He is taking a break in the storeroom amidst huge bags of rice, wiping his face with a grimy checked towel. On his feet are new carpet slippers worn by many of the Wazas in a nod to comfort over hours standing in front of intense heat. “They are comfortable now but they are even like iron shoes by the end of the day” he says and strides back into battle automatically selecting a battered long metal spoon from a pot.

Traditionally, Wazwan had seven basic courses rising up to a kingly thirty or so but according to Pushpesh Pant, the Pandit community favoured course numbers based on Vedic numerology. Following the game of dice in the Mahabharata, feasts would have twenty-one courses, thirty-one courses and so on. The ideal meal, as an aside, would be fifty-six dishes; mirroring the seven days a week with holy offerings to Gods every three hours. For Muslims it is all much simpler. Course numbers are based on wealth and prestige (and of course guest numbers…). Certain meals in India are rituals but Wazwan is a ceremony: a custom. A chance to eat together. Guests are seated in groups of four on a dastarkhan, a catch-all Central Asian term for cushioned seating on the floor. They are brought a tasht-i-nari (a wash basin) to clean their hands. A large metal plate called a travi is served heaped with rice and the first few courses. Diners eat with their fingers. A typical first travi consists of a large mound of rice artfully divided by four seekh kebabs, four pieces of methi maaz (lamb and fenugreek), one tabak maaz (lamb ribs), one safed murg (chicken in a white gravy), and one zafrani murg (chicken with saffron). Ultimately, seven dishes must be part of a Wazwan – tabakh maaz (ribs), rista (pounded meat balls in a saffron gravy), rogan josh (lamb curry), dhaniwal korma (lamb in yoghurt sauce with coriander), aab ghosh (meat in a thick milk gravy), marchwagan korma (hot lamb curry) and it must finish with ghustabha (pounded meat balls in yoghurt gravy). After that, Wazas can make any number of dishes and courses for their guests. Some recipes are unique, others like an improvisation on a note or a theme in music according to what the host wants. Traditionally, a Waza will have several special dishes that his father or teacher has imparted that might cost different amounts to make and serve. The ultimate formal banquet is a Royal Wazwan typically consisting of thirty-six courses, of which between fifteen and thirty are meat dishes.

Standing behind the front line of the vir, I am eagerly fed from steaming pots and it’s clear that from the first taste of the seekh kebab that these big men have produced something delicate and delightful. Something truly magical has come from the fire and the smoke. The kebab is the smoothest I have ever tasted and I am honestly surprised. A hint of cumin and mint hits before the chili adds heat. The meat is soft and smoky. The rogan josh is nothing like the dishes I have had in or outside of India. There is a wonderful cardamom hit that is long on the tongue only finally giving way to an earthy onion/garlic-ness. The tabakh maaz falls from the bones on first suck – an odd crispiness that comes from the ghee but the biggest surprise is the yakkhn sauce that on this occasion is with chicken. Again cardamom but the cooked yoghurt is creamy, not rich or cloying as I expect. It is a genuine delight and I say so. Sacrilegiously it even surpasses the spongy, pounded meat of the rista… but in the company of such men I resolve to hold my tongue.
As I stagger back I see the first courses being loaded onto the tramis. There is a lot of food.


Baharat Masood cuts a dash through the modern glass fronted shopping mall where the Indian Express newspaper has an office. Tall, rangy with a wispy Islamic beard he could be mistaken for a preacher. He shakes my hand warmly and apologises for being late in the way only a busy young journalist-about-town can. “Wazwan is now a good indicator of wealth in the Valley… it is like a status symbol” he says sadly. “Wealth for some…” It seems that the Wazwan is slowly changing and both the government and militants have played a part. Many have grown rich from the conflict here and money flows across borders for an elite. The conflict has meant ironically that the demand for Wazwan has actually increased among the wealthy. It’s now fashionable to have a large feast, potentially out-doing your neighbor, but it is the Wazas themselves who have been caught in a difficult position. The truth is that Wazwan cooked for so many courses is a waste. During the height of the violence, (the) “militants issued orders that Wazwan should not be cooked at weddings”. According to some chefs, armed men disrupted parties and distributed the food to the poor. These were difficult days and even up to a couple of years ago, the government, conscious of such conspicuous feasting attempted to limit the number of guests. That failed but for a time, a dish limit was set. Ultimately that also failed when producers of spice and livestock were affected. The biggest issue now for the Wazwan, according to Masood is that a new generation is less keen to be chained to a furnace for three or four days at a time. Young Kashmiris are looking out of the impoverished Valley and to new futures.

The road gently curves past the ochre domes of the tomb of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin (Bud Shah – the Great King) into a street full of the smell of spice and dust. Older, delicate wooden houses rise above modern shopfronts selling pots and pans. This is Wazapore, the traditional home of the Wazas and, through a labyrinthine alleyway, past an open drain, I am led to the humble home of Mohammed Ayub Waza. In a small courtyard Mohammed is cooking. A small vir holds three pots and his brother is forming seekh kebabs on a metal skewer. Dust flies up in sunlit shafts as his wife with a broad Turkic face offers icy cold Coca-Cola.

“I’ve been a Waza for thirty years” says Mohammed. “I learned from my father and his father from him… more than a hundred years. It was a family business so not so much choice. Actually, both myself and my brother were studying but there was a fire at the family house and so we had to leave school to help our family. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do it… but it was just like this”. He spreads his hands and beams a big, bearded smile as he looks up from his wooden chopping block. I see a Pathan from Afghanistan. 
As he talks he delicately but speedily slices an onion with fat fingers and a long knife. “The work is seasonal… my father had good connections so in those days we could depend on fifty or sixty Wazwans a year. The thing is that I have two other brothers which meant the three of us divided the work when he died… the costs depends on the party - if it’s a good party the minimum cost has to be Rs10-20000 (€140-280) - a maximum Rs 30-40000 (€430-580)… on average there might be ten to twelve dishes but I have cooked up to forty five, but this is really, really rare… since I have started, the meat was Rs70 (€1) per Kg and now it’s Rs270-280 per Kg (€3.89-€4)… but I am still enjoying…”
“There is now a lot of competition - there are too many Wazas in too small a market… I won’t say any more – it is all to do with luck. If God wants it, I will earn… As I see it in the coming days, I am telling my children to keep studying. I’m not stopping but I am definitely making my son learn (to cook). He’s fourteen now and maybe he won’t do the job but because it is tradition, I would like… see I’m illiterate – all my generation of Wazas are – so I want my son to learn. If my son can go outside Kashmir and do Wazwan in other places as well, that would be good.” The boy, a lean and moody looking teenager, turns up as if on cue in school uniform. He looks less than happy at his father’s career options for him and shoots a spiteful look at his younger sister sitting barefoot curled against her mother’s substantial curve on the floor.
“… The thing is that Wazwan has a very big importance (for Kashmiris). It is part of the culture but these days it is a little less significant. In the past days when there was a wedding, a family might have it’s own Waza that they knew had cooked for their family (before)... In this day (sic) the Waza would visit the home… now so much is done on the telephone” and he nods to the cell phone on the plastic chair. This is honest hard work, steady toil allowing others to entertain. “Even a poor man can celebrate,” says Mohammed and God knows, Kashmiri’s have had little to celebrate in recent times.

It’s clear though that paradoxically, Wazwan is one of the few drivers of the local economy along with domestic tourism. “On average maybe 100-150 trucks are brought to Srinagar everyday full of sheep. Almost the majority of that is made into Wazwan… so it is not only the Wazas who benefit. There are the shepherds, the vegetable sellers, the spice sellers, the wood, the rice… all these people…”

Khan Mohammed Sharief Waza is a tired man. He greets me early in the morning after finally returning from the Wazwan wedding feast at dawn. We sit in his refreshingly scruffy office and drink tea from delicate china cups. There is cake and biscuits. The wall on one side is decorated with a smattering of pictures of him and his brothers from magazines and newspapers taken over the years. He has pretty much lost his voice from shouting for three days and his hoarse, croaky voice is faint and other-worldly. 
“You know it’s very physical – you have to work like a demon but I’ve been doing this since I was a child so it’s possible. I used to look at my father and I knew that I wanted to do this… But you have to learn… you go step-by-step… as a starter you do the hard things first… it’s not like you will do this for a year and then that… if you are good you will go quicker” Sharief holds up his large paw. “First level is mashing, second is making the kebab. The third level is chopping the meat and the fourth is mixing the masala (spice). To be a proper Waza, it depends on you…” “When I cook sometimes, I think about the ancestors and it’s like they say to me…” and he pauses, collecting his memories, “if the dishes are cooked very well, one of my grandfathers – I can hear him say ‘that’s good… that’s how it should be’ – or if there’s a mistake – I can feel his hands on my throat!” 
For Sharief, Wazwan has “given (me) respect, money and a name. These things are very important... it has also taught me to lead men – I treat my boys as a flock of my own children. If someone is arrogant with my boys, I will bash them – even if it’s the owner of the house… but if any one of the boys does something wrong, I will bash them in the same way… it’s like I am a teacher (to them)… I know that 100-150 men have left this place and started their own businesses”

Inevitably, talk turns to yesterday’s society wedding. “There were something like thirty dishes and the cost was around Rs5-6 Lakhs (€7500-€8500)… but we are not so much interested in weddings anymore. We do a lot of hotel work now and I prefer to cook at home here” He motions outside to a courtyard in one corner of the square of seven houses that he and his brothers share. A blackened kitchen area is shaded by a corrugated iron roof. “My men cost a lot for sure to take them out (and)… these big weddings are now unusual…we’re less interested in them unless they’re for friends or my family has known them for a long time…” It’s clear he doesn’t need the work and his mind is focused on bringing the food culture of Kashmir on.

“I think our family has changed Wazwan some…” He concedes that the family no longer grinds their own spices and some of the dishes might be cooked over gas ovens but for him it is more important that people learn about the culture. “The taste is the same… If we have a guest we take good care of him, we make him sit, we make sure he’s comfortable…I want people to know about this because it was my father’s dream. He said ‘things are imported to Kashmir – why can’t we export something good – like the Wazwan – as well – why should we be deadlocked in the Valley?’”

Their forward thinking father opened a business in Delhi two decades ago and now, run by the third brother Rafiq, they cater for big hotels - and big people.  Rafiq, youngest of the three, clean-shaven and baby faced, joins us. “… Our father was travelling down Lal Chowk (one of Srinagar’s main streets) in the 1980’s and he saw that South Indian food was selling very well: he thought why not sell Wazwan outside of Kashmir?”
“In all this” says Rafiq “we have kept our father alive… we want to show the best of Kashmir to the world… but we have to change with the times”

“But the people in Delhi like less ghee and in Mumbai, less spice” chuckles Sharief.

Sharief travels the most – “I go all over the place to cook; Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai” Clearly he sees the family as ambassadorial and then from the desk produces a tin of rista. “The canning was (again) my father’s idea – We started in 2000. We have a factory on the outskirts of Srinagar. We make the food here and send it to be tinned… maybe only six to seven thousand tins a month and now others are copying us as well.

Family however is everything. “…this thing will only continue if our sons carry on from the fathers…(and) my brother (Shafi) has the only son out of the three of us… he has interest and certainly he has the best three teachers…” Another smile.

What of the djinn and the family nickname? He laughs and in an almost whisper, his voice finally failing: “We don’t know exactly which generation that this came from but one of my forefathers managed to rescue some burning milk at a feast and a neighbour called him this. Anyway, I’m not exactly a devil, but if it’s a question of being a good or a bad one, then I’m certainly a good devil…”

The djinn would surely agree.

©Stuart Freedman