When Mughal emperor Aurangzeb deposed his father Shah Jahan and imprisoned him, legend has it that he allowed him simplest one factor of his choice for the rest of his life. And Shah Jahan chose chickpeas. “An excellent supply of protein, chickpeas can be cooked in lots of one of a kind approaches — in soups, bird, pulao, dal or halwa — that’s how the emperor survived his final years,” says meals historian Salma Yusuf Husain. “But when Shah Jahan changed into the ruler, his astrakhan was a revolt of colors and flavors. Paneer was of 7 unique hues, so it turned into kofta and pulao. For example, they used to cook dinner half of the rice in clean pomegranate juice and the other 1/2 in water. These two types were later combined and lined with silver warmth. This becomes for the Yakutia pulao; Yakut method ruby in Persian,” she adds.
Recipes of such colorful and flavour-rich dishes make The Mughal Feast (Roli Books, Rs 1,495), a transcreation of Nuskha-e-Shahjahani, a Persian recipe ebook dating back to Shah Jahan’s rule. Divided into 8 chapters, it has recipes for an assortment of naans, cash (soups), Aaliyah and do-pizzas, bharta, Zeer biryani, kababs, and different sweetmeats. “Unfortunately, the ultimate bankruptcy of the manuscript — on murabba and pickles — is missing; we tried tough, however, couldn’t locate it,” says Husain.
Recipes for pulao make the longest bankruptcy, with over 50 types. For Naranj pulao, orange-flavoured lamb curry is cooked in rice; for Zard pulao, sweetened cinnamon-flavoured rice is garnished with fried raisins. In Koko pulao, lamb koftas, do-piyazah filled-hen, and omelette are cooked with rice. “The chefs within the royal kitchen have been aggressive and creative. You’ll locate lots of nuts and dry fruits of their dishes; that is what they got from critical Asia. In India, they found greens, grains, and fresh results.
That’s how you could see dishes with elements consisting of falsa, banana, melon, mangoes, and oranges,” says Husain, including that the chefs were preparing loads of dishes each day, as one could not expect emperor’s temper. “The meals turned into cooked within the purest of rainwater mixed with water from Yamuna and Chenab rivers that would be stored inside the kitchens,” says Husain, who’s a postgraduate in Persian language and literature. Her first process concerned translating handwritten Persian manuscripts on the National Archives in 1964.
“One day, I turned into thinking about the legacy and historical past that the Mughals have left us with; however, now not tons were written about their food, though Mughlai cuisine is famous even today. When there are such a lot of books on Akbar, Jehangir, and Shah Jahan, why hasn’t all and sundry written approximately their manuscripts on meals?” she says. Sometime later, she discovered Alwan-e-Nemat, a set of recipes written at some point of Emperor Jehangir’s time, which made her award-triumphing book The Emperor’s Table (2008).
She located Nuskhe-e-Shahjahani in London’s British Library in the early 2000s and translated the most effective recipes for pulao for a book that become posted via Rupa in 2004. Recently, while founder-writer of Roli Books, Pramod Kapoor, went to London, he was given a copy of the whole manuscript. “Even in Ain-i-Akbari, there may be a chapter committed to kitchen management, through which we get to recognize how crucial food becomes. The emperor had no one much less than the high minister appearance after it. The Mir Bakawal consulted the hakims, who determined the menu according to the king’s temperament, napping pattern, and what is right for the intellect,” she says.
The Mughals had a sweet tooth. “In Alwan-e-Nemat, it’s miles written that they used to dip even the Shami kababs in sugar syrup,” says Husain. On the spices they used, she provides, “There have been no chillies, no garlic and no turmeric in their food, they’d like saffron, which changed into used no longer handiest for colouring but also as a vital factor, along with ginger, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. They started out cooking in olive oil from ghee, and after they have become Indianised, they commenced the use of mustard oil,” she says.
The Mughals additionally tailored the Indian dish of bharta — in which greens are mashed after roasting over an open fireplace. “With every emperor, a new type of cooking turned into introduced. With Akbar came a variety of Indian dishes, Jehangir lived more often than not in Kashmir, so cooking of the birds turned into added as he could hunt plenty near the Dal Lake,” she says, adding that the Portuguese were given with them chillies, potatoes, and tomatoes.
During her studies, Husain also travelled throughout central Asia, including Tashkent, Bukhara, and Samarkand, and discovered how noodles and pasta were also present in the Mughal kitchen. “We were staying in a homestay in Samarkand with an Afghani circle of relatives, in which we noticed kids rolling and cutting noodles and pasta. The girl of the residence told us that those got here to them thru the silk direction before going to Italy,” says Husain, who has labored with ITC for over 20 years as a meals representative.
She notes how the Mughlai delicacies served now is some distance from true. “Now, if you ask for Mughlai meals, they will provide you with a plate full of spices, sauces, and oil, but that changed into handiest used to decorate the base flavours. So I don’t want to put in writing the recipes, I want to know the history, how are we the use of the recipes and feature we accomplished justice to them or ruined them,” says the author.