Evolved in the royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire in Medieval India, Mughlai cuisine is an amalgamation of Indian and Persian cuisines. Mughlai was a community food, earlier started by the Mughals then the Persians and then got segregated in India with versatile specialties across Old Delhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad majorly. Though often confused with the regular Indian food, Mughlai cuisine is an entirely different entity. Right from the ingredients, preparations and expertise to the time one takes to prepare Mughlai cuisines are very unique and out of the box. Mughlai food, very precisely is an array. It is not something run of the mill. Each and every dish from the Mughlai menu speaks for an identity and needs attention and experience. Mughlai cuisine is distinct in every manner. The taste ranges from extremely mild to spicy and the dishes are often associated with a peculiar aroma and the flavour of whole and ground spices.
Driven by History
Mughlai food is one of its kinds as every Mughlai cuisine has a story and a rich history behind it. For example, Rogan Josh is originally a Persian lamb dish that was brought to Kashmir by the Mughals and has now become one of the staples of the Kashmiri cuisine. Navrantan Korma is a vegetarian dish from the Mughal kitchen. Here, Navratan mean nine gems hence the dish is usually prepared from nine different vegetables. Another delicacy from the royal Mughal kitchen is Pasanda, the name of which is probably derived from the Urdu word ‘pasande’ which means favourite. This rich and elaborate history behind the Mughlai cuisines truly depicts that this food is an outcome of extensive expertise and a cuisine inspired from culture and traditions.
Making it Mainstream Cuisine
The culinary changes and alteration in the mode of dining in India are rapid and these changes have begun to reflect new strands in the culture of Indian cuisine. Mughlai cuisine has been in existence since 16th century but it has undergone a lot of transformation over the course of time. A bespoke catering concept like Mughalnama is changing the contours of Mughlai cuisines as it is ready to alter the way this food is perceived by its patrons. Mughal cuisine has started to reach a level where people from all demographics and geographies are accepting it in its catering format as well. The humble Biryani and kebabs have always adorned the north Indian weddings but to have a full fledged Mughal spread was always relegated to a Muslim wedding. Mughlai Food has never been considered to be catered or served during occasions and gatherings. It was considered to be one of the kind cuisines predominantly consumed by the Muslim community. But keeping in mind the contemporary consumption food pattern of the millennial, the cuisine's preparation has got a modern touch with less oil, balanced ghee, few spices and proper usage of other ingredients so that it could be part of the mainstream. With various innovations in terms of both preparation and presentation, Mughal spreads are now finding its new patrons at private parties and bespoke gatherings. The celebration of indigenous cuisines and ingredients has also helped the cause as the young patron wants to celebrate what emanates from his roots.
The primary Mughlai dishes would consist of meat of goat, sheep, fowls and venison. Extensive use of milk, cream and butter in various gravies and curries and different spices, saffron, dry fruits, ghee and other diary produces makes the traditional Mughlai cuisines quite rich and heavy. Though now-a-days food is prepared keeping in mind today's era, tradition, work and life, suitable for the more health conscious but enthusiastic epicureans. The hygiene and presentation of authentic Mughlai dishes has also taken a new guise. It is no more a usual deg and handi serving but new age catering units are using exclusive copper & brass serving and chafing dishes to serve a cuisine that is inspired from the royal kitchens.