Rice Underwent a Dramatic Change in the Mughal Kitchen. Explore How and What…

Rice is known to be a staple diet in India.  The commonly eaten rice with lentils and veggies in India underwent a dramatic change in the Mughal Kitchen. Not only this, the well-known Islamic Turko-Persian biryanis  were innovated differently by the addition of pepper, saffron, ginger and a wide range of other ingredients for the improvisation of flavour, aroma and taste.

It is believed that Mumtaz Mahal went to the army barracks and found undernourished soldiers. She requested the soldiers to prepare a dish combining rice and meat so that a well-balanced diet could be provided to the soldiers and the result was biryani. That was the time when green chillies, turmeric and cumin were little known. The rice was just fried in ghee (clarified butter) without washing so that it could have a nutty flavour and did not clump. A range of aromatic spices, meat and saffron were added to the rice prior to cooking the mix over wood charcoal fire.

Read the other interesting stories about Indian Biryanis

The innovation of ‘Navaratan rice’ Nine-jewel rice (named after the nine jewels or the eminent personalities that Akbar had at his court.) was a true delicacy that had a range of spices, eggs, yogurt and veggies. This lip smacking rice innovation is still found and sold in India. The rose-scented ‘Shah Jahan biryani’ was another innovation that worked well. This delicacy is marinated chickens cooked with pistachios and almonds. It goes well with salads.

The rice dishes became even more elaborate with the establishment of independent kingdoms and there was more demand of the variety. Realizing the need of the hour, cooks at the court created ‘moti pilau jahanara’ that had meatballs coated in edible silver sheets. It was the innovation of the time when The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb wrested the throne from his father Shah Jahan and imprisoned him with at Agra. His sister Jahanara shared the captivity with his father and was her companion till he died. Aurangzeb had the highest regards for her and this delectable version of rice was named after her. It is believed that ‘Jahanara’ used to love this dish very much.

The today’s version of this dish found all across the India are sold by the name of ‘Moti Pilau’ only. The Mughal Emperors were extremely fond of lavish dinning style and rice used to be one of their favourites. So, most of the biryani versions innovated during this period were the succulent chunks of spiced meat enveloped with rose scented rice and has an irresistible aroma that will make you crave for it instantly.

This flavoursome rice dish taste even better when it is cooked in yakhni, which is an aromatic meat stock made from the bones of lamb or chicken and flavoured with garlic, onion and aromatic spices (whole).

This enriching sauce for meat, chicken dishes and biryanis called yakhni can be cooked easily.


Ingredients you need:

How to cook it:

Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the meat starts falling off the bones. Allow it to cool and then skin the fatty solids from the surface. Strain the resultant liquid through sieve and discard all the solid part.