Have you ever stopped to wonder why khichdi is called khichdi or why butter chicken is called so? I mean isn’t it fascinating to think who would have named the dishes that we devour today. It definitely is. Intrigued by the same thought, we picked up a bunch of Indian foods and started digging up their history. Their etymology took us by surprise for once and at times, made us understand the significance of their name. They often say and I quote from William Shakespeare, “What’s in the name?”. While it may have been true for Romeo and Juliet, that is not the case with our foodscape. 

On a culinary trail to explore the stories behind Indian foods and their names, here’s what we’ve compiled for you. 

1. Chettinad Chicken 

This South Indian chicken curry is filled with robust flavours and spices. The dish originates from a region in the southern state of Tamil Nadu called Chettinad. That is what gives it the name Chettinad chicken. High on the local spices quotient, this curry reflects the regions’ local flavours and preferences. Ideally, a gravy-based dish, you can also whip up a dry version of the same. 

2. Mahim Halwa 

Any halwa is incomplete till the time it has dollops of ghee and sugar in it. This Mahim Halwa is a specialty of the Mahim area in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The pink-coloured halwa is made from wheat extract and loaded with dry fruits like pistachios and almonds. The translucent layers of the halwa are a common sight in the Kapad Bazaar. If you’re craving halwa, there’s a mawa halwa to compensate. 

3. Arcot Makkan Peda

Yet another dish that derives its name from the place of origin is Arcot Makkan Peda. Don’t be fooled by its appearance as it may look like our gulab jamun at first. Hailing from a small town called Arcot in Vellore, this nut-stuffed dessert was first devised by the Nawab of Arcot. 

4.    Tunday Kebab 

The tale of tunday kebab is actually an inspiring one. The soft and melt-in-your-mouth kebabs were the brainchild of a one-handed chef, who cooked in the royal kitchens of the Nawabs. Since the Nawab was toothless, he prepared these 160-spices filled kebabs, for him with just one hand. Hence, the name tunday kebab. 

5. Moradabadi Dal 

Legend has it that Mughal emperors had started enjoying their dals a lot. The Moradabadi dal was a result of one such tale. Shahjahan’s third son was served this moong dal, which was finished off with raw onions and amchur. The addition of paneer and butter to the tadka was loved by him and thus, the lentil got named after Prince Murad Baksh, residing in the city of Moradabad. 

6.  Bombay Duck 

What we are about to tell you may catch you off-guard. The Bombay duck is actually bombil fish. Oh yes, you read that right. A freshwater fish of Mumbai, the Bombay duck was named after the mail train called Bombay Daak that transported the fish during the British Raj. So people started calling it the Bombay duck over time. 

Now I think, we should start saying, “It’s all in the name!”