What Is Mughlai Indian Cuisine?

Recreating Mughlai Flavors at Home

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Mughlai is a type of cuisine that came about as a result of the Mughal rule in India from 1426 to 1857. During that time in India's history, the food was rich and cooked with aromatic spices, nuts and dried fruits. The flavors of Mughlai can range from mild to spicy.  It is pronounced "moog-lie."

More About Mughlai

Mughlai represents a cooking style that was used in northern India, in places such as Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

It was also used in Pakistan among Muhajir people there. Mughlai cuisine also appeared in the Indian cities of Bhopal and Hyderabad and Central Asian cuisine largely influenced the flavors.

The official language of the Mughal Empire was Persian so many Mughlai dishes have Persian names. They can also have Turkic names. The dishes were once prepared for royals and emperors, who likely expected the very best food. And they dined on these flavorful meals that combined the spices and flavors that embody cuisine from India.

Some of the Muslim names in Mughlai dishes include biryani, pulao, kebabs, and kofta. The strong influence of Muslim cooking styles is evident throughout Mughlai meals. Mughals left a lasting impact on India, which is evident as Mughlai dishes are still very common and desired today. 

Trying and Making Mughlai Indian Food

The preparation of Mughlai food was likely time-consuming and very involved with the number of flavored sauces and butter-based curries.

It's almost like it was created to make people want more food because it can be that indulgent! The names of these foods are also so intriguing, which may tempt people to try new dishes in the Mughlai style. 

Most Indian restaurants interpret Mughlai style as mild to medium-hot cream and nut based gravies, rice dishes with lots of nuts and dried fruits and rich creamy desserts.

Expect (in a good restaurant) spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg. Gravies are usually quite common in Mughlai dishes and they go well with rice and bread alike.

Common dishes that take on Mughlai flavors typically include kebabs, kofta (meatballs), pulao (or pilaf) and biryani. Mughlai is found in popular dishes such as Mughlai chicken, malai kofta, reshmi kebab and murg tandoor. Other dishes include Mughlai biryani, Mughlai paratha, and kadhai gosht. Mughlai can also be used in desserts such as  the bread pudding shani tukra, barfi, kalakand, and falooda. 

Though many Mughlai meals are rich, decadent and savory, they are commonly offered in lighter versions too. You can lighten them up by substituting more healthful ingredients. With its historical roots, Mughlai traditions are still very much alive today in kitchens across the globe, whether at home or in restaurants.