The Taj Mahal, an evergreen symbol of love from Shah Jahan himself to Mumtaz Mahal. And the love that sprouted from the Empress’s heart still passes from generation to generation, street to street, across families and traditions with their own twist and flavour.
She stands the source of the much adored Biryani that we all relish and drool over.
Arjumand Banu Begum, her maiden name, gifted the entire subcontinent a meal to be savored for years to come and restaurants to profit endlessly from.
The world’s biryani lovers and history both bear the imprint of Mumtaz Mahal. What precisely is biryani, and why do we adore it so much? Is it the flavour, the aroma, the presentation, or just the fact that it is a complete cuisine that appeals to all the senses at once, that makes foodies and non-foodies alike so passionate?
A genuine consort of the monarch Shah Jahan, she frequently went for strolls to interact with the warriors. She took a stroll one day after leaving the palace.
Instead, the empress chose to visit the army barracks and converse with the soldiers.
She found her way to the army camp, enjoying hearing their tales. The queen noticed the troops’ weakness and hunger while touring with them.
Having compassion for their plight, she went back to her palace and spent some time introspecting. She wisely reasoned that having a malnourished army was equivalent to having none at all.
She gathered the cooks and chefs in the kitchen for the troops and gave them instructions to prepare a dinner brimming with flavour. A dish rich in nutrients, the ideal well-balanced dinner that would inspire a passion for food and turn even the most uninterested troops into food enthusiasts, providing them stamina for rigorous exercise and protocol.
And voila! Thus the birth of Biryani
Mumtaz Mahal thought a full meal was ideal for troops to eat every night, both in times of peace and war. Is biryani an aphrodisiac or merely a delicious dish, that is the question.
Well, the dish is cooked and flavoured with multiple aphrodisiacs like cinnamon, black pepper, saffron, nutmeg, etc.
It is also layered with tender pieces of meat, ultimately resulting in a wholesome mouthful.
In the end, Mumtaz Mahal not just garnered her husband’s love with him building one of the wonders of the world, but the love of millions over the Indian sub-continent and across with every bite of biryani consumed.
Article By M.S. Reeha