India introduced the world to the concept of luxury. The grandeur of huge palaces, lavish lifestyle, intricate jewelry, and rich attires. Indian Royalty was always ahead of its time in terms of spending and living a life that the world could only dream of.
This luxury was not restricted to materialistic pleasures but the Indian Royals truly feasted like the Maharajas. When the world was surviving on the bare minimum, Indian royals were feasting on splendid meals and had the biggest kitchens in the world.
Let us have a look back at the era of the royal kingdoms and their extravagant kitchen menus.
Royal Awadhi Cuisine
The art of slow fire cooking known as Dum style originated in the Royal kitchens of Awadh. Dishes like Kababs, Biryanis, Zarda, Kormas, Kulchas, etc. were introduced to the world by Bawarchis of Awadhi Kitchen. Mughlai or Lucknowee food and cooking style is a blend of Indian and Persian methods of preparation. Dishes like mutton or paneer were cooked with an infusion of whole spices and saffron was a luxury garnish on most of the royal cuisines of Awadh.
Food was served on splendid dining tables covered with Dastarkhwans. The word Dastarkhwan is so popular now that there are several food joints with this name. Lucknow is known for biryani and kebabs, the popular ones being Tangdi and Tunde k Kebab. The latter has an interesting story about how the kebab got its name.
It was a kebab prepared by a one-armed chef, who was teased with the name Tunde and that's how the kebab got its name. The originality of Tunde kabab is the masala which is a fiercely safeguarded family secret, prepared only by women in the family.
Royal Rajasthani Cuisine
Rajasthan is a state that has a rich cultural and traditional diaspora with exquisite heritage and cuisine. Rajasthan is known for its spices and its staple food Dal, Bati, Churma but actual Rajasthani cuisine is much more with a unique blend of spices. In ancient times the Royals feasted on elaborate Chappan Bhog, Rajasthani cuisine is regarded as rarest of all the cuisines, serving a plethora of dishes.
Some of the famous royal dishes were Dal Baati Churma, Gatte Ki Sabzi, Mewa Kachori, Ghevar, Balushahi, Balushahi, Mirchi Bada, Ker Sangri, Bajre Ki Roti, Mohan Maans, Malpua, Boondi Raita, Panchkuta, Badam Ka Halwa, Mohan Thaal, Bajra Ki Raabri, Moong Daal Ka Halwa, Masala Chaas, Kachri Ki Chutney, and Laal Maans being the most exclusive dish.
Royal Kashmiri Cuisine
The reign of Mongol ruler Timur in India resulted in the migration of Samarkand laborers and cooks to the Kashmir valley. The main chefs of Kashmir are the descendants of these cooks and were known as Wazas. Wazwan is the royal cuisine of Kashmiri and has an identity of its own.
A truly flavorsome and scrumptious 36 course packed with Rogan Josh, Dhaniwal Korm, Rista, Aab Gosht, Tabakh Maas, and Gushtaba with Phirni and Kahwa for dessert or items to end the meal. The authentic Wazwan is made only of Sheep meat is used to make authentic Wazwan meal and unlike other cuisines flavors are added while the meal is still uncooked.
Royal Kolhapuri Cuisine
Hot chili spices and meat rule the Royal cuisine of Kolhapur. Pandhara Rassa and Tambda Rassa are the star soup-like gravies or rassa found in the kolhapuri thali. Pandhara is a meat dish made from mutton stock and coconut milk garnished with ginger, garlic, and chilies whereas, Tambda is made the same way, only substituting coconut milk with chilies making it spicer.
Being famously recognized as food greatly comprised of hot chilies, Kolhapuri dishes have a delicious flavor and aroma too that is beyond chilies.
Royal Hyderabadi Cuisine
A unique blend of Maharashtrian and Mughlai cuisine and is influenced by the spices and herbs of the Telangana region. Haleem is the quintessential dish associated with Hyderabadi food. How can one forget Hyderabadi Biryani? There is nothing more famous and craved for than that.
The well-kept secrets of the blends of spices and herbs are passed down to generations. The head chefs were known as khansamahs and were the pallbearers of the Royal Kitchen. Traditional cookware like brass, copper, and earthen pots are used to cook food and special attention is given to the choice of ingredients and cooking them at the right temperature.
This is not the end, but rather just the beginning of exploring Royal Indian Cuisines. To explore a culture one should do it through local and traditional food. Every region has its specific blend of spices and flavors which make its dishes unique and authentic.
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Head on to Part - 2 to explore more Royal cusines