The origin of Mughlai cuisine stems from the Mughal rule in India, which took place from 1526 to 1857. The flavours of Mughal food can range from mild to spicy and are associated with their distinct aroma and use of whole and ground spices.
Traces of Mughlai cuisine can also be found in the Indian cities of Bhopal and Hyderabad where Central Asian cuisine largely influenced its flavours.
Since the entire Bengal region was a part of India back then, the influence of Mughlai cuisine is still prevalent in Bangladesh.
Even now, in 2021, the influence of Mughal food remains unparalleled in Bangladesh.
The official language of the Mughal Empire was Persian, in effect, many Mughlai dishes also have Persian and Turkic names.
The strong influence of Muslim cooking styles is evident through the array of Mughlai meals, which are still, even today, very common and desired - a true testament of the Mughal Empire's lasting impression on India and Bangladesh.
The preparation of Mughlai cuisine in the original era was likely time consuming because of the heavy use of a large number of flavored sauces and butter-based curries - almost as if it was created to make people want more food because it can be that indulgent.
The names of these foods are also quite intriguing, which may tempt people to try new dishes in the Mughlai style.
Common dishes that feature traditional Mughlai flavours include biryani, kebabs, kofta (meatballs), pulao (or pilaf) and tandoor.
Examples of these traditional dishes include Mughlai chicken, Mughlai biryani, Mughlai paratha, malai kofta, reshmi kebab, kadhai (korai) gosht and murgh tandoor. Traditional Mughlai desserts include the shahi tukra, barfi, kalakand and falooda.
Though many Mughlai meals are rich, decadent and savory, the richness can always be lightened by substituting some of the ingredients with healthier alternatives.
Mughlai cuisine is still very much alive in kitchens across the globe, whether at home or in restaurants, thanks to its historical roots.
Over time, making Mughlai food at home has become a norm. Here are two Mughlai inspired recipes you can try your hand at.
Mughlai Chicken Korma
½ kg boneless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
1½ cup yogurt
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 green chilies, deseeded and chopped
3 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
6 tbsp mustard oil
2 cups of water
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp black pepper powder
2 small cinnamon sticks
2 small black cardamom
3-4 green cardamoms
3 bay leaves
Salt as per taste
7 almonds and peanuts, roasted
Heat a small nonstick pan on high, add 2 tbsp oil and onions. Sauté it for one to two minutes on high flame.
Reduce the flame to medium and sauté till the onions are brown and caramelized (five to six minutes). Switch off the flame and cool completely.
Using a grinder or a blender, grind the roasted nuts to a fine powder. Then, grind the cooled sautéed onions to a fine and smooth paste.
Heat a large nonstick wok, add 3 tbsp oil, cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves and bay leaves. Sauté for ½ min.
Add in the onion paste, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, red chili, garam masala, black pepper, lemon juice and salt to taste. Sauté for two minutes on medium flame.
Now add in the chicken and sauté for five minutes, till the chicken is slightly cooked. Add Yogurt and cook for another minute.
Add in the water and cover with a lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally.
Mix in the powdered nuts, green chilies, coriander and mint leaves and cook for another 15 minutes or until the oil starts to separate.
Dry Fruit Saffron Kulfi
Few strands of saffron
1/4 cup full-fat milk, warmed
1 tbsp cornflour
4 cups full-fat milk, room temperature
5 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 cup chopped almonds, cashew nuts and pistachios
Combine the saffron and warm milk in a small bowl. Mix well and keep aside.
Combine the cornflour and two tbsp of water in a small bowl. Mix well and keep aside.
Combine the milk and sugar in a deep, non-stick pan. Mix well and cook on a medium flame for five to seven minutes while stirring occasionally.
Add the cornflour and water mixture. Mix well and cook on a medium flame for a few minutes. Stir occasionally while scraping the sides of the pan.
Allow the mixture to cool completely.
Once cooled, add in the cardamom powder, saffron-milk mixture and dry fruits. Mix well.
Pour into six kulfi moulds and freeze overnight.
To unmold, allow the moulds to reach room temperature for five minutes and then unmould by inserting a wooden skewer stick or a fork in the centre of the kulfi and pulling it out.