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INDIA, MOGHUL

many as fifty types at a time. Most of the preparations served were those inspired by the Persians and Iranians, and included such dishes as khormas (meat, chicken, or fish with a sauce of creamy consistency), kebabs, rotis (un- leavened bread), and pulaos. The marriage of the Persian Princess Noor Jehan to Indian Prince Jehangir also con- tributed to the import of many delicacies to India and this had its own profound effect on Moghul cuisine.

The art of retaining the rudimentary character of a food preparation while incorporating multiple seasonings was mastered by Indian chefs. A classic illustration is the preparation of Moghlai biryani. This dish is also a model for the fusion characteristic of cooking from a bygone era. Two odd or incompatible ingredients—rice and lamb—were not only marinated, but also married with spices, curds, saffron, an aromatic mixture of spices, and garnished with varq (silver leaves).

Although there is room for modification or differ-

ent styles in biryani, its basic formula is as steadfast as that of another speciality, kebabs. Through the multiple processing of lamb, which was minced, steamed, skew- ered, broiled, cubed, or sliced, Moghul chefs demon- strated great dexterity in the preparation of this dish. The two most popular dishes in the kebab family were shammi kebab (a combination of minced lamb, nuts, and chick- peas, stuffed with chopped onions and green chilies) and nargisi kebab (a hard-boiled egg covered with a prepara- tion of minced lamb, onions, spices, and herbs, and then deep-fried).

Chefs were trained to present their food as impres- sively as possible. Some even went as far as preparing khichri (a rice and lentil preparation) with almonds and pistachio nuts, which were cut to resemble grains of rice and lentils. This was all done for visual effect. Colors also played a major role in food presentation. Various per- mutations and combinations were used to make the ap- pearance of the dish as attractive as the taste.

The Moghuls introduced rich, milk-based sweets in India. Tiny bits of bread coated with sugar and ghee were prepared for the ceremonies of Fatiha (prayers offered to one’s ancestors) and Niyaz (prayers offered to the Prophet). Malida (a sweet made with broken bread, sugar, and ghee, although the bread is often replaced with semolina) was another sweet dish. Gradually, milk, which had been thickened by boiling it down, replaced flour in the preparation of sweets. The Moghuls were also fond of candies and conserves. During their reign, murabbas (sweetened preserves) and achars (pickles) were developed and commonly used. Halwa, a sweet item, would be made with a variety of ingredients, from which it would take its name. For instance, if made from carrots, it would be called “carrot” halwa, if made from lentils, it would be called “lentil” halwa, and so on. Halwa is said to be of Arab origin. The most popular halwas with the Muslims were sohan (a sticky wheat confection), papri (a crispy sweet confection made with wheat and sugar), habshi

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FOOD AND CULTURE

(made with wheat, reduced milk, and sugar), and dudhia (made with bottle gourd, reduced milk, and sugar). Barfi (a dry, white, soft sweet like a milk cake) originated in Persia (baraf means snow in the Persian language). Balu shahi (a sweet, glazed wheat patty), khurme (a date-shaped sweet), nuktiyan (a sweet dish made of wheat and sugar shaped as small beads), gulab jamun (croquettes made of milk solids, deep-fried until golden brown, and then soaked in sugar syrup), and dar behisht (a sweet dish of rice flour and thickened milk) were all developed during this era. Jalebis originated in Arabia, where they are called zalabia (a gram flour batter, piped out in circles in hot oil, deep-fried until crisp, and then soaked in sugar syrup).

Food that was served at feasts at home or transported to another setting was called tora. This comprised a pu- lao (a rice-based dish); muzafar (a sweet, rich rice dish fla- vored with saffron); mutanjan (meat, sugar, and rice with spices); shirmal (a sweet baked bun-type bread); safaida (a simple sweet rice dish); fried aubergine; shir birinj (a rich sweet rice dish boiled in milk); qaurma (a meat curry); arvi (a fried vegetable with meat); shammi kababs (cro- quettes of meat and lentils); and murabba (sweetened pre- serves), achar, pickles, and chutney.

Regional environments influenced dietary rituals in India. Meat or any type of flesh is forbidden after a fu- neral. No food is cooked in the house of mourning for forty days after the death. Women who are seven months pregnant receive vegetables, dried fruit, and cake on their laps. After an engagement ceremony, dates and sugar are distributed to the family of the groom-to-be. At the wedding, the bride and her kinswomen eat from the same plate, a practice that would be unthinkable in the Hindu world. Islamic festivals such as Bakrid, Id, and Moharram are celebrated all over India. The foods con- sumed by the community have a strong Islamic influ- ence. Maleeda (broken bread, sugar, and ghee) is a common ritual offering.

The Moghul emperors relished the practice of eat-

ing paan (betel leaf). Two betel leaves formed one bira: One leaf was stuffed with supari (betel nut) and kattha (Acacia catechu, heartwood extract), and the other leaf would have chuna (lime). Sometimes, the betel leaves con- tained kapur (camphor) and musk. When chewed, this sweetened the breath and reddened the lips. Paans were bestowed as a mark of royal favor on courtiers. By the end of the seventeenth century, a paandaan (a container for betel leaves and other ingredients) was given as a royal present to ambassadors and nobles.

The Moghul emperors favored water from the Ganges River. People with the highest integrity oversaw the transportation and distribution of water, from the source to its points of consumption. The water was tasted before consumption as a precautionary measure against poisoning. The use of wine was neither prescribed nor forbidden in the Mughal fraternity.

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