History textbooks teach us about war and death, kings and kingdoms, winners and losers. However, in the process, they tend to neglect personal details about these rulers that are actually quite fascinating. Our sone ki chidiya has seen the rule of a variety of kings and lords. Among them, the Mughal era which had transformed our present-day capital into the Delhi Sultanate, is etched in our minds and hearts due to the long reign of several emperors. Names like Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb are hard to forget, given their massive influence on the culture of the Indian nation. 

Their contributions somewhere reflect the personal interests of these emperors. Some like Shahjahan were passionate about architecture while some others were a great proponent of fine arts like music at that time. The one thing common about these emperors was their fondness for food. Culinary affairs were placed at the same pedestal as court affairs. Be it a royal feast or a regular day of the sabha, food was given utmost priority. 

Now since kebabs and biryanis are believed to have originated from the Mughal culture, it is a commonplace understanding that these would be a regular feature at the royal dining table. While this holds true for most of the rulers, Akbar was in line only for some duration. 

Akbar’s Inclination Towards Vegetarianism 

Source: Nitish Sharrrma/Instagram 

It would be wrong to say that Akbar was a meat-loving ruler since the beginning. Vincent A. Smith’s compilation of Akbar’s biography highlights this. Certain quotes from the emperor “From my earliest years, whenever I ordered animal food to be cooked for me, I found it rather tasteless and cared little for it” clearly suggest that he wasn’t an ardent fan of meat thought he consumed it in his prime years.

To begin with, he started a practice of being a vegetarian thrice a week. Interestingly, Jainism had such an influence on Akbar’s mindset that he completely gave up meat for the latter part of his life. A strong believer with immense respect for Jainism and as well as Hindus (let’s not forget he was married to Jodha), he abolished beef eating in the country as it was sacred to these communities. 

Peculiarities Of Akbar’s Court And More 

Source: Bhopal Walks/Instagram 

Are you ready for some mind-boggling facts about The Great emperor? He loved fresh produce so he cultivated a garden in his kingdom where vegetables were kept fresh with rosewater. This may come as a surprise to you but this Mughal emperor couldn’t do without Ganga’s water. Fun fact: Shahjahan was obsessed with Yamuna’s water. 

If you didn’t know, we’ll tell you that our beloved samosas are a gift of Persians and cross-cultural pollination was prevalent since ages. So much so that Akbar’s court was replete with dishes like samosas, yakhni, harissa and even sag. It wasn’t a cook but a hakim who decided on the menu for the day in Akbar’s reign. Seems like a personal nutritionist of sorts in the old days! 

The platter laid out on the dining table was a culmination of all things sweet, salty and spicy. The idea was to serve the emperor a balanced diet, which became even more important since he generally had just one elaborate meal in a day. 

An avid drinker with a taste for fruits, he loved a glass of opium with a side of pomegranates, grapes etc. Did you just picture Akbar leaning his head on one hand with his legs stretched to the other side, a glass of opium in the other hand and a daasi holding the grapes close to his mouth? Because we surely did. 

Nevertheless, all this lavish meal reached the emperor only after several rounds of tasting to make sure it was safe for him to eat and would arrive in sealed packs of cloth. Even eating food isn’t cakewalk when you’re ruling the country right?