If the sheer variety of parathas around the country is not the proof to India’s love affair with the flat bread, we don’t know what is. Much like our diverse country itself, our parathas too do not follow a template. They can be round, square or of no defined shape at all. They could also be plain or heavily stuffed. An acute variance in preparation and ingredients has also made it hard for food lovers and historians to define the category of parathas. But as long as they are able to satiate us, we are good.  

Of Meat and Marvel

One of Bengal’s most loaded street food items, Mughlai Paratha is also called a ‘Paratha’, although conventionally it is more like a deep-fried, minced meat-filled pastry. But that is not the only interesting aspect about its nomenclature. ‘Mughlai’ as we all know is a prefix commonly used for dishes that were invented during the Mughal era or were developed and popularised in the Mughal era. For instance, Mughals are often credited for bringing Biryani to India, but Biryani is not a dish that was invented in India. It was essentially a Persian dish that was adapted to the local palate. Similarly, an early version of Mughlai Paratha is said to have been popular during the reign of emperor Jehangir by one of his cooks hailing from Bardhaman, Bengal.  

Is This Paratha Really Mughlai, Though?

The Muslim influence in Bengali cuisine is important to understand in the decoding the history of Mughlai paratha, because even though many people suspect the paratha to have any Mughlai connection whatsoever, they are somewhat certain that it arrived to present-day India via the route of Dhaka. Even the tradition of using keema in dishes was popularised by the Muslim chefs. It is a common belief that many street-side vendors of Kolkata called their dishes ‘Mughlai’ or ‘Chinese’ just to grab more eyeballs. Soon after the partition, Mughlai paratha became a commonplace in the street food fare of Bengal, the cabins of Kolkata. It has also made its way in Durga Puja pandals of around the country.

The Mughlai paratha that we know of today is a stuffed with minced meat and a lot of spices. It’s outer coating is made with maida and eggs, it is deep fried in oil, and because it is so heavy, it is cut up in squares and served with ketchup and kasundi (A Bengali mustard condiment), and some fresh salad to undercut the greasiness of the meal.