(Last Updated on : 25/09/2010)
The cuisine of India is as vast as its people. Each and every ethnic group has its own distinctive food preferences along with their different culture. India has witnessed several invasions from Arab, Central Asia, the Mughal Empire and Persia in its early days. These invasions had a great influence on Indian cooking.
The Muslims from western Asia brought the Mughlai cuisines to India in the 12th century when Mughal rulers conquered a large portion of India. During the Mughal dynasty, these dishes were prepared for the Mughal Emperors for elegant dining with dry fruits and nuts. The hospitality of sharing of food with others in Mughal courtly society helped India to absorb it as its own while making Indian cuisine to stand apart with pride.
The Mughals brought their rich, aromatic food culture in India and is now an important part of the Indian culinary culture. Quite ideally therefore, apart from giving the greatest architectural monuments, the Mughals have also changed the country's cooking by merging Middle Eastern cuisine with Indian spices and ingredients to give the most beautiful Mughlai cuisine.
The Mughal influence on Indian food is immense. Mughlai cuisine is one of the most richest, popular and lavish cuisines in the country. These are pretty spicy and have unique fragrance. The cooking method includes lots of milk and cream with exotic spices, nuts and dried fruits to make it rich and spicy. Biryani, Korma, Palau and Pasendi are some of the famous Mughlai cuisine.
The Mughal influence on Indian food supported the evolution of Indian food to a great extent. The Mughlai cuisine full of rich gravies, pilafs and non-vegetarian foods such as kebabs, along with the fruits like apricots, peaches, plums and melons contoured the structure of the Indian food while offering it a distinct dimension. Each of the Muslim rulers offered something or the other to make Indian food the potpourri of spice, taste, tang and flavour. When Babur invaded India he brought his stylish food habits such as grilled meats along with different varieties of fruits and nuts from Central Asia. His son Humayun continued this tradition and also introduced a new tradition of rice-based pilaus and using of fruits and nuts in the meat stews in India. Marriages of Mughal rulers to several Rajput princesses added a new dimension to the Mughal cuisines.
The reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan, marked the evolvement of bountiful dishes in Indian cuisine. In the mean time, the Nizams of Hyderabad developed Biryani as their own style of cooking, which is now considered as one of the main dishes in India.
Apart from the introduction of new dishes, the influence of Mughlai cuisine on Indian food also presented the novel idea of using aromatic spices in cooking. Mughlai food is quite spicy. The spices used in this preparation are easily accessible. These dishes are specially preferred in Delhi, Lucknow in the North and Hyderabad in the South. These have the strong influence of Muslim cooking style along with their Muslim names.
The saga of Mughlai dish is still continuing. It still remains as one of the most important part in Indian culinary style. Although, Mughlai cuisines are available in all parts of the country, but Delhi is the best place for this royal cuisine. In this present scenario, the Mughlai influence on Indian food reflects the local cooking styles in it. The cuisines available in Delhi and Lucknow are the combination of Indo-Persian style by the addition of typical North Indian spices like cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric and ground chilies; whereas in Hyderabad, curry leaves, hot chilies, mustard seeds, tamarind and coconut milk are added to these cuisines to give them a local flavour.
Due to the flavored sauces and butter based curries in the Mughlai cuisine, they are very much popular among the food lovers. Mughlai food offers tempting and delicious variety of food such as kulfi with rose petals sprinkled on it, hot spicy soup and ginger based roasted meats.
People in India are crazy about Mughlai cuisines. Some of the popular Mughlai dishes are, Aloo Ka Raita, Carrot and Capsicum Raita, Badaam Halwa, Chicken Korma, Chaamp Masala or Lamb Chops Curry, Chole or Chane, Kesar Chawal, Chicken Tikka, Jhinga Malai Curry or Creamy Prawn Curry, Naan a type of Indian Bread, Palak Gosht, Palak Paneer, Seekh Kebabs, Tandoori Chicken Legs or Grilled Chicken Drumsticks and the most favourite dish Biryani.
The Mughals have left a great influence and occupies a strong place in the cuisine of India, especially in the Northern parts of the country.