When Babur won the battle of Panipat against Ibrahim Lodi in the year 1526, he paved way for one of the greatest empire India had ever witnessed. The Mughal empire went on to rule India for more than 300 years. During this course of time, they greatly influenced the epicurean habits of the country, successfully marrying Persian elements with indigenous favourites. In addition to their affinity towards art and culture, most Mughal rulers shared a deep penchant for rich and extravagant food, save for one, Aurangzeb. Unlike his father Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb did not quite have an inkling towards the royal meaty delicacies. As a matter of fact, the Mughal king, liked most of his meals simple, homely and vegetarian. He did enjoy one particular kind of biryani called Qubooli. As per legends, he wrote about his fascination for this rice dish composed of lentils in one of the letters to his son. 

What Is Qubooli Biryani?  

When you think of Biryani, you are bound to think of the typical meat and rice combination cooked so sedulously, that it becomes one wholesome unit. For the unversed, Biryani is an amalgamation of two Persian words Biriyan (fried or grilled) and Birinj (rice). The rice dish became incredibly popular in India during the Mughal rule. Awadhi cuisine, that borrows heavily from Mughlai cuisine, also takes pride in its meticulous biryani preparation that happens in layers. Layers of cooked lamb, the layers of spices, layers rice all come together to make the quintessential Awadhi mutton biryani we are so much in awe of. When Asaf Ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh ordered construction of Bada Imambara, one of his intentions was to feed his construction workers every day and save the city from the famine. Huge batches of biryani was cooked in large cauldrons and served to approximately 20,000 workers daily. The rice filled them up, the meat served as adequate source of protein.  

Most biryani lovers get anguished at the very thought of 'veg biryani', and perhaps they have a reason, the traditional image of biryani is all things meaty, spicy and decadent. But to say vegetarian biryani is an anomaly, would be a bit of a stretch. Especially when it reserved a special spot on the plate of a Mughal emperor.  

Qubooli, which is also sometimes touted as the source of inspiration for the Anglo-Indian dish ‘Kedgeree’, is an aromatic one-pot dish made with dal, basmati rice, beaten curd, ginger, garlic, and a bunch of ground and whole spices. It is very light, but also teeming with spices. It is not very hot since the curd helps off-set the heat. Try making it in ghee for that sweet aroma, a little bit mint can lend a lovely burst of freshness to this comfort food as well. Many people also call it the poor man’s biryani, but just a bite of this biryani will tell you that there is nothing poor or inferior about the dish. Here is an easy-peasy recipe of Qubooli we found for you. Go, indulge.