Pasanda: What Makes This Royal Curry So Special
Image Credit: Shutterstock, The word Pasanda refers to favourite in Urdu.

To understand any dish, it is best to decode the meaning of its name before digging into its historical connections and flavours. During the time of Mughal rule in the country, the royal kitchens were the brimming ground for many luscious curries and rich dishes. Korma was one of them which is quite popular today too. However, there was one other dish that striked all the right chords with the Mughal emperors. It was the pasanda. Pasanda, as the name suggests, is derived from the Urdu word pasand meaning favourite or most liked. Seems like the name rightly stuck to this mildly-spiced curry which was first born in the court of Shah Jahan. 

Traditionally made with the best cut of goat or lamb, the marinated meat dish boasts of a finesse like no other. While the rich and elusive pasanda that originated around the 16th century, there also seems to be a mention of similar dish in the 12th century Manasollasa which talks of pounded meat that is made thin and flat to be cooked with yoghurt. This resonates with the pasanda that is prepared today, where the meat is covered in a marinade of yoghurt, red chilli and other spices. The bold and exotic flavours of the pasanda is what made it everyone’s favourite in the royal courts. 

While pasanda belongs to the Mughlai cuisine, it is also popular across the North Indian cuisine, Rampuri cuisine as well as Hyderabadi and Pakistani fare. The high-quality cut lamb dish is made from a curry of onions and tomatoes and today, you’ll find several variations of the same. Originally made with goat meat, there are dishes like chicken pasanda, paneer pasanda and badam pasanda that you’ll also find on the menu of several restaurants. 

Also called Murg Pasanda, the chicken pasanda recipe usually makes use of chicken breasts as they are soft and juicy, without any bone. It is easier to flatten them and dunk into a gravy. Even though it is a thick curry, pasanda fares well with rice as well as naan.