The magical concoction of Deccan India - Naan Qalia


naan qalia

Many consider Mohammad Bin Tughlaq as a visionary, while some consider him as a lunatic. The reason why he earned the nickname "Lunatic Emperor" was for his decision to shift the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. Tughlaq had ordered complete evacuation of Delhi. Residents of Delhi prepared to travel 700 miles away into an unfamiliar land. Many of the people included thousands of imperial troops along with artists, nobles, merchants and poets. Tughlaq's huge army was coming to exhaustion. The army needed motivation to travel and all they had was vegetable soup. The Sultan asked his generals how would they be able to feed this imposing Imperial army and no one had the answer, except the cooks themselves. The cooks scouted the area and luckily they found that they had access to fresh source of water and livestock. Now the question was, with so many stomachs to feed, what would be a more feasible dish that could be fed to so many people. One clever cook knew exactly what needed to be done. Since Mohd Tughlaq wanted to throw a feast, he wanted something special to be prepared for the army. The unkown cook put his skills to test and soon dug out a tandoor (hot furnace) and prepared thick naans in it with a pinch of turmeric water which gave naan a golden color.

Meanwhile, for the Qalia (spiced curry and meat) the cooks decided to throw every spice available and more importantly they added some khus khus (poppy seeds) as well with the preparation. It was a feast for the soldiers. Later, his men failed to analyze the situation and land properly. The land of Daulatabad and the journey was one of the biggest disasters and the Sultan had no choice but to return to Delhi. Many of the people who journeyed with the Sultan decided to stay in Daulatabad and Aurangabad. Mohammad Tughlaq left the Deccan region, but Naan Qalia stayed there. Since then every wedding in Aurangabad has an elaborate buffet with Naan Qalia as the main course dish with a variety of accompaniments.

Aurangabad's or Deccan's culinary heritage is a mirror of the cultural and historical tides that have swept over the medieval city and region. The culinary history of Aurangabad is interesting and also the history of the small restaurants or eating-places in and around Aurangabad and Daulatabad that serve Naan Qalia is like living a slice of history itself. Many of these small-eating places charge you not more than Rs 50 per plate. But these days the number of cooks specialising in cooking Naan Qalia is declining, but the demand has been ever-rising, so the expense to hire a cook means doling out a lot of money. Many people who are not used to eating this thick blend of spiced curry give up on the first day due to the spicy flavor of mutton and oil. But once the taste of Qalia settles down, then one becomes an ardent consumer of Qalia.

naan qalia party

Naan Qalia being served at a household party


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