Mughlai may be a word new to most outside the Indian Subcontinent but, you may be familiar with words like biriyani, korma, kofte, kebabs and pulao. These dishes originated way back during the Mughal era when India was ruled by the Mughal emperors and the Indian cuisine was heavily influenced by a strong Muslim cooking style. It also derives its flavours from Persian and Turkish cuisine and has a very distinctive aroma of ground and whole spices popular known in India as ‘Shahi Masala’, shahi meaning royal. Spices include Mace, Nutmeg, White pepper, Star anise, Fennel, which thankfully are now available in most super stores sparing you the trip to an Indian shop. It also uses different kinds of natural flavorings such as rose petal, saffron, kewra water which is a kind of sweet screwpine essence or an extract that’s distilled from pandanus flower.
The taste varies from being extremely mild to very spicy, like from a mild korma to say a vindaloo!! Just like its originators its rich and flamboyant with the use of dry fruits, nuts and cream, so if you are into calorie counting bid adios to your weekly treat for the whole month ???? !Saying that, its my all time favorite dishes to prepare purely because of how the cook has control over the spice content and the delicate use of flavours which you would perhaps not use in your everyday cooking, hence I refer to Mughlai cuisine a treat.
This particular recipe fills me with nostalgia and takes be back to my teenage days of high school and college in Kolkata, India. As a teen with limited money to spend one had to choose wisely when it came to eating out, and Chicken rezala with naan was perhaps one of the most affordable and filling treat for us all. We had a favorite joint called Nizam’s in an overly populated, narrow street of what was at that time the most happening places to go called New Market in Kolkata. The smell of kewra water and rose sweeping through the air and clanging of dishes and happy chatty faces relishing the flavours comes to mind every time I make this dish. Don’t get to perplexed seeing the ingredients list and the cooking time. It actually requires very less supervision and is mostly slow cooked. I guess my more affluent days has made the dish a bit more exotic as opposed to the watery stew of clarified butter and red chillies with a lone chicken leg piece floating in the broth !! However, the memory of the delicate smell still lingers.