Biryani, Mughlai Paratha, Keema, Shami Kabab, Malai Kofta,
Nihari, Mutton Hyderabadi, Galauti Kabab, Roghan Josh, Phirni…
the list of Mughlai dishes is long. But how did this masala-rich cuisine come to be?
Unlike its name, there is more to Mughlai food than the Mughals. Its first origins are in the kitchens of the Delhi Sultanate, where slow-cooking techniques from Persia and Afghanistan met Indian spices and meats. But it reached its zenith under the Mughals, who innovated such dishes as Navratan Korma and Murg Musallam. Sourcing ingredients from the far-flung corners of the empire, such as Kashmir and the Deccan, experimentation was encouraged by the Mughal emperors, especially the high-living Jahangir.
Mughlai food devolved into regional variants, such as Awadhi Cuisine in Lucknow and Deccani Cuisine in Hyderabad after the decline of the Mughal Empire. Dishes like Shahi Tukda and Kakori Kababs emerged under the patronage of the Nawabs of Lucknow, while the signature Qubani ka Meetha and Mirch ka Salaan developed under the Hyderabadi Nizams, where they drew upon a longer culinary tradition from the Sultans of Golconda.
A number of other dishes also fall under the Mughlai title, such as Rezala, which originated in Bengal, or Faloodeh, brought to the Western Coast by Arab traders. On the other hand, the Samosa has mingled so freely into Indian cuisine that its Mughal origins are now forgotten!