Mughlai Cuisine – How We Know It

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Mughlai Cuisine is known as the royal style cooking used in the imperial kitchens of Mughal Emperors. From the historical perspective, it was an invention to provide healthy food to royal warriors. Since every single recipe from this cuisine is the result of a team effort of dieticians, medicine specialists, and culinary art experts. They make use of healthy herbs, aromatic spices, accurate amounts of water and heat to cook food, and some special tools like earthen ovens (tandoors) to cook Naan (flat bread) and mortar and pestle for grinding. Mughlai Cuisine is considered an essential part of Indian cooking and Mughlai food has occupied every household in India. This cuisine is basically the legacy of Mughal Emperors but no festival or celebration in India and Pakistan is complete without at least one recipe from Mughlai Cuisine. Distinguishing Properties No doubt, Mughlai Cuisine is distinguished from the rest of the Indian cuisines due to its emphasis on the use of rich spices, appropriate garnishing and serving, and low flame cooking. The most important property of this cuisine is that the spices used while cooking meats not only enhance its flavor but also create appetizing aroma throughout the home. Although lamb and mutton is an integral part of most recipes but Chicken is added to some recipes such as Biryani, a world famous rice dish from this cuisine. When we talk about vegetables cooked in Mughlai Cuisine, we come to know that veggies are cooked in such a manner that they keep their crunchiness and color. Mughal cooks didn’t use a lot of spices in vegetarian recipes and they emphasized cooking vegetables with light flavors. Kebabs are another specialty of this cuisine. Though Kebabs were mostly made with meats but a few recipes include vegetables in the making of Kebabs. These were mostly used as snacks but had been an essential serving with rice dishes. Three Most Famous Spices Famous Mughlai Spices include Saffron, Gulab Patti, and Varq. Saffron, also known as Kesar is one of the widely used spices in Indian cooking and had been a favorite of Mughlai cooks. Saffron basically comes from the crocus family and it is the stigma of the flower. Kashmir is the region where it is grown in abundance. Saffron is also imported from a few Mediterranean countries and Spain. Usually it is used to create color as well as flavor into different recipes of Biryani, Pulavs, Kebabs, and Korma. Saffron is also used in desserts and mostly for garnishing. The best method to use Saffron is to soak it in warm water or milk and then transfer to the dish. Saffron has to be refrigerated once the bottle is opened otherwise it is loses the original flavor. The second famous spice is called Gulab Jal and it is the powder or essence of rose petals. It has an alluring aroma. Gulab Jal is made after sun-dried rose petals are grounded. Mughals mostly used grounded rose petals to marinate meats. The reason was the anti-inflammatory and acerbic properties of the ingredient. Drinks in Mughlai Cuisine include many different recipes based on Gulab Patti that was mainly used to create aroma and flavor. Rose water is commonly sold on grocery stores in India and Pakistan. Besides cooking it is widely used for its healing properties. Third spice is the Varq made of silver and gold. These are very thin silver and gold leaves that are used in the garnishing of desserts or main courses prepared for special occasions. Varq had been an essential part of Mughlai Cuisine being an indication of the royalty and prodigality of Mughal Emperors. Real gold and silver is beaten into ultra thin leaves and sold on confectioner’s shops in India. According to modern scientific research, these leaves are safe for health since the metal is used in an extremely low quantity. No doubt, the Mughal contribution to the development of Indian Cuisine has been remarkable. The Mughals arrived from a foreign country but they adopted the culture and traditions of India as their home. Since no field of life was aloof to the influence of Mughal Emperors, it is quite natural that Indian cooking adopted many of its recipes, methods of cooking and presentation from Mughlai Cuisine.