The Mughlai curries like Kormas and Qaliyas are renowned for their richness and the same richness can also be witnessed in the desserts that emerged or rose to popularity during the Mughal era.
Touted to be one of the greatest empires India had ever witnessed, the Mughal empire lasted for more than 350 years. The founder of the empire Babur, found it so hard to adjust to India’s climate, local produce and lack of his Persian favourites, that he had many of his favourite food items transported from his homeland, even if that meant emptying a significant part of his treasury. The kings who followed, most were born in the subcontinent, hence had a much easier time in comparison, but they also played their own part in shaping what we know as ‘Mughlai cuisine’ today. A cuisine so robust, that it prevailed even after the fall of the empire. The Mughlai curries like Kormas and Qaliyas are renowned for their richness and the same richness can also be witnessed in the desserts that emerged or rose to popularity during the Mughal era.
Here are some Mughlai desserts that rule our heart.
1. Shahi Tukda
‘Shahi Tukda’ translates to a ‘Royal Piece’ in English. Upon the advent of bread in India, thanks to the Europeans like Portuguese, French and the English, Indians were mesmerized with its soft, fresh and spongy goodness. It is said that a host of Mughal cooks used up some pieces of bread and slathered it over with a nutty, fragrant rabri and called it Shahi Tukda, Shahi Tukda also has a Hyderabadi cousin in ‘Double Ka Meetha’.
2. Sheer Khurma
An Eid favourite, Sheer Khurma was also one of the staples of a typical, grand Mughlai feast. Milk cooked with strands of vermicelli with nuts and dry fruits, until vermicelli softens. It is further garnished with more nuts before serving.
3. Gulab Phirni
This rice and milk pudding is different from Kheer, as it is made with ground rice and it is always eaten chilled. It is also much thick and creamy in comparison. The addition of rose petals or rose essence makes the dessert effervescently exquisite.
4. Khajoor Ka Halwa
During the Mughal era, dates found a significant place in culinary map of India. The desserts would especially have a rich dose of dates or ‘khajoor’. The deep, rich sweetness of dates is more comparable to chocolate or caramel than refined sugar, which can explain why, this chewy and seemingly simple halwa has such a massive fan following.
5. Kesar Kulfi
The word Kulfi, comes from the Persian word ‘Qulfi’, which roughly translates to ‘a covered cup'. As per experts, the dessert most likely originated in the Mughal empire during the 16th century. A creamy mixture flavoured with pistachios and saffron would be packed into metal cones and kept in a bed of ice, the frozen dessert would then be unmolded and served.