Mughal Dynasty

Mughlai Food

Mutton mughlai curry

Mutton mughlai curry, a north Indian dish supposedly in the style of the Moghul emperors.


Murgh Musallam literally means whole chicken. The dish was popular among the royal Mughal families of Awadh now state of Uttar Pradesh in India. It also means well done. Ibn Battuta described Murgh Musallam as a favourite dish of Muhammad bin Tughluq.The dish was also served in the Delhi Sultanate.


According to Sevan Nişanyan, an etymologist of the Turkish language, the word kebab is derived from the Persian word “kabap” meaning “fry”. The word was first mentioned in a Turkish script of Kyssa-i Yusuf in 1377, which is the oldest known source where kebab is mentioned as a food. However, he emphasizes that the word has the equivalent meaning of “frying/burning” with “kabābu” in the old Akkadian language, and “kbabā/כבבא” in Syriac language. Tradition has it that the dish was invented by medieval soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. Persian kebab was served in the royal houses during various Islamic Empires and even commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan or pita.


According to many sources: Nihari either originated in Old Delhi (Jama Masjid and Daryaganj areas) in the late eighteenth century during the last throes of the Mughal Empire or in the royal kitchens of Awadh, in modern day Uttar Pradesh, India.The Nawab ate Nihari early in the morning after Fajr prayers and then took a long nap before going to Zhuhr (afternoon Muslim prayers). Later on, it became popular among the labor class as a regular breakfast item. Another story reveals that Nihari was cooked overnight in large volume to be served to the labourers. Whenever there were massive constructions involved and the kings served meals free to labour and also paid them. In some instances kings did not want to offer coins / currencies, they in turn offered free meals and accommodations to the labourers. Since the work had to be started in the morning, it was cooked in an earthern pot, sometimes even buried and served in the morning to ensure the supply of energetic labour force. Alternative origins puts roots in the Muslim Nawab kitchens, having achieved fame via the storied royal kitchens of Lucknow.


Rogan josh was brought to Kashmir by the Mughals, whose cuisine was in turn influenced by Persian cuisine. The unrelenting summer heat of the Indian plains took the Mughals frequently to Kashmir, which has a cooler climate because of its elevation and latitude.


The origin of Haleem lies in the popular Arabian dish known as Harisah (also written as Harees, Hareesa). According to Shoaib Daniyal, writing in The Sunday Guardian, the first written recipe of Harisah dates back to the 10th century, when Arab scribe Abu Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Sayyar compiled a cookbook of dishes popular with the “kings and caliphs and lords and leaders” of Baghdad. “The version described in his Kitab Al-Tabikh (Book of Recipes), the world’s oldest surviving Arabic cookbook, is strikingly similar to the one people in the Middle East eat to this day” it reported. Harisah was introduced by Arab soldiers of the Hyderabad Nizam’s army to the city. Today, Harisah is still available in the Arab quarter of Hyderabad, an area called Barkas, where the dish is called Haris. Later on, the people of Hyderabad modified it to suit their palate thus creating modern Haleem.


The origin of Paya lies in Central Asian cuisine, brought to South Asia by the Persians. The dish was adapted to the local cuisines by the Muslim cooks of Hyderabad and Lucknow. Subsequently, Paya became popular all over present-day Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. It is also available in restaurants serving Indian and Pakistani cuisines outside South Asia. It is especially famous in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Punjab region.


There is a theory about the Mughals having brought biryani to South Asia, but another theory claims that the dish was known in India before Babur came to India.The 16th century Mughal text Ain-i-Akbari makes no distinction between biryanis and pulao. It states that the word “biryani” is of older usage in India.


Nawabi curry is a rich Mughlai curry which is traditionally made creamier by the addition of cashew nuts, boiled vegetables (French beans, carrots, cauliflower) cooked with tomato gravy with spices. A royal curry that is low in calories and goes with para.


The native tongue of the Mughals were Chagatay Turkic languages and the official adopted language of the Mughal Empire was Persian, so many Mughlai Indian dishes were named in the Turkic and Persian languages. Dishes include various Kebabs, Kofta (meatballs), Nihari, Pulao (a.k.a. Pilaf in Central Asia), and Biryani. Paneer is used for preparing vegetarian dishes to suit vegetarian dietary requirements.

Other dishes include:
Kachri Qeema
Haleem (Khichda)
Mughlai Chicken
Mughlai Paratha
Qeema Matar
Meat Durbari
Mughlai Chicken Pulao
Murg Kababs Mughlai
Murg Noorjehani
Murg Kali Mirch
Murgh Musallam
Kofta Shorba
Nargisi Kofta
Murg Tandoor
Murg Chaap
Murg Masala
Malai Kofta
Navratan Korma
Reshmi Kabab
Boti Kabab
Shahjehani Murg Masala
Shahi Chicken Korma
Shahi Kaju Aloo
Shahi Rogan Josh

Shahi Tukra is a rich bread pudding with dry fruits, flavoured with cardamom.
Sheer korma
Anjeer Halwa (Figs sweet dish)
Kesari Firni is a rice based sweet dish streaked with Saffron

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