Reviving Royal Recipes from Maharajas Kitchen!
Food secrets & recipes from royal kitchens of India are being revived in the pandemic. Nona Walia rediscovers the forgotten culinary delights of the royalty
Beneath the crystal chandelier on the dining table, there would be a spread of unusual exotic dishes! Gayatri Devi’s biographer Dharmender Kanwar and author of Royal Cuisines of India says, “There was great competition between the chefs, who would try to surprise the royalty by serving stuffed wild boars. Chefs would like to stun their guests -- there were live birds in puris. The ingredients were exotic, lavish and flavourful.”
The Maharajahs were proud of their kitchen, the food had a unique flavour. Says Arvind Singh Mewar, erstwhile Maharaja of Mewar once told me how; “The recipes always used fresh ingredients. The cooking methodology was — slow. All traditional recipes were slow cooked, they had a unique flavour and were healthy. Some secret recipes were passed down generations. They are a legacy.”
The Royal recipes used spices that were local but exotic. The master chefs never shared their recipes. In Indore, Mahraja Yeshwant Rao Holkar had four cooks – a Swiss chef, an Indian chef, a French chef and one chef to only cook meat! Seema Aslam Khan, erstwhile Begum of Hyderabad told me once how they guarded all their recipes, "The trick is how we make our food, which was a well-kept secret. Our house served the best – Biryani, Mirchi ka saalan, kebabs and baingan ka bharta. ”
Rajmata Gayatri Devi loved her Lal Maas, Sulas, Soyta or Hari Kachri Ka Kheech, Sangri Ki Tarkari, Sev Kadhi.
There was something celebratory about food in kitchens of Royal India, they had influence many cultures.
The Maharajahs loved good food!
The Nawabs of Lucknow had the greatest kitchens of all times.
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala had a separate bakery and he loved French cuisine. While Rampur was famous for Raan and Agra's Akbar Shahi Parth ka Paratha was something royalty feasted on.
In the pandemic, people are experimenting with some exotic dishes to revive the old world flavours.
The old recipes used a lot of javetri (mace), jaiphal (nutmeg) and khus. In Rampur cuisine, meat was marinated with bottle gourd and papaya to tenderise the kebabs. Patiala Royal recipes used ghee, slow simmering and few or no tomatoes. There is a daal called 'Dal bhukpari' which increases your hunger. The royals of Patiala also ate locally grown vegetables like gullar, Bauhinia or Kachnar, a flowering plant fiddlehead fern.
It’s time to savour traditional recipes from the past, with lost ingredients and spices.
Journalist & Writer, Motivational Expert, Wellness Blogger
Former Senior Assistant Editor of Times of India
Author for Thrive Global