A natural tendency of having food is to experience the taste and talked about it for endless hours. But sometimes a curiosity worm always makes us to put up the question of its origination. It is said that food history is as important as sixteenth century baraque church.
Here are some of the food items which has historical affiliationBiryani: A scrumptious plate of mixed rice dish made of spices, rice and meat or vegetables. Tantalizing aroma of spices and condiments of Biryani which can make anyone tempted to eat has a significant historical story attached to it.
It is said that Mumtaz, wife of Shah Jahan, once visited army barracks and found that army was undernourished. She ordered her chef to prepare such a meal to feed the army men which would nourish them with nutrients. The chef came out with the idea of ‘Biryani’ a meal prepared with meat and rice.
This is just a half part of the story, critics of Biryani assert that it was originated in Persia and came to the shores of North India via Afghanistan. Famous traveller and historian Al-biruni has also precise descriptions of meals at the courts of Sultans who ruled parts of India prior to the Mughals. Some say that it was brought by the Arab traders to Calicut in South India.
Today it is served in 15 varieties of region or by culture in India and in 12 varieties internationally. One of the salient features of Kolkata Biryani is that it has the roots acquired from Lucknow style. During the exile of Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah (circa 1856) to Calcutta, he ordered a Biryani feast for the labourers, who were building Shahi Imambara near the city. Since the poor Nawab could not afford meat for his men so he offered biryani with potatoes. In this way he transformed the Awadhi cuisine of Lucknow in his own style. The dish came to be popularly known as ‘Calcutta Biryani’.
Samosa: A usual-day samosa would look like small, crispy with flaky pastries and deeply fried with obvious stuffing of potatoes, peas and dry fruits. Not only this, it includes assortment of stuffing ranging from minced meat with herbs and spices to vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage.
But this treasured snack for family has travelled all along from Central Asia through ancient trade routes. Modern samosa was popularly known as sanbusak during 10th or 13th centuries from Egypt, Zanzibar to Central Asia and West China.
By the early 14th century it not only became a part of Indian cuisine but also considered as the fittest food for king. This was documented in Amir Khusrao’s poetry illustrating about the ingredients like meat, ghee and onion.
Spring-rolls: An Indian Spring-roll is stuffed with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli spinach mint potatoes or scrambled eggs and sometimes noodles. The speciality of every menu of Indian wedding has its roots in China.
According to historical records, before the Tang Dynasty, everyone made a kind of thin pancake with flour on the day of the Beginning of Spring. People put them in a dish and added special vegetables and fruits; this was called the “Spring Dish”. It was sent to relatives and friends to show their welcome of spring and its blessing.
Momo: A steamed white-flour and water dough mouth-watering item popularized in every metropolitan city has a very interesting past. During the 18th century the dish was popular among the Newar community of Kathmandu valley. One prevalent belief is that Newari traders brought momo techniques from Lhasa, Tibet. The dish was modified with available ingredients water buffalo meat. In present days, it can be served in other two ways also fried and pan-fried.
Kebabs: A dish which has the roots embedded during the Archaic Greece of 800-480 BC is now popular all over the world. But it is said that Shish Kebab are created by Turkish soldiers who stuck the lamb on their swords then roasted it over an open fire.
Similarly Kebab may also had the genesis in the Vedic period, mentioned one incident in Mahabharata (according to KT Acharya , food historian) of bits of marinated game meats roasted on large and open fires. But modern-day Indian Kebab is associated with Mughlai cuisine.
Surely, a satiating taste can always be achieved only when one is able to associate the past with its present.