Once Upon a Time in India, there lived a King and a Queen

“Once upon a time, there was a king and a queen..” aka “Ek tha Raja aur ek thi Rani…” We all have grown up hearing fairy tales or stories of Kings and Queens..We even read about them in history books ..didn’t we.. Babar ka Beta Humayun. Humayun ka Beta Akbar..Akbar ka Beta Salim (Jahangir) , Salim ka Beta Shah Jahan and Shah Jahan ka Beta Aurangjeb. When I was in school, I hated History and was very happy the day my 10th Board exam was over that I will never have to deal with Kings and Queens again unless until I read the historical fiction series by Alex Rutherford , Empire of the Moghuls. A gripping series of 5 books covering the life of All the Kings I mentioned above to the extent that I completed it in 2 months, sometimes reading till 3 am midnight. History was never so interesting. And now ask me the family tree, I remember it by heart and the books will probably stay with me throughout my life.
Humayun's Tomb @ South Delhi
Few interesting things about Moghul Dynasty :

The mothers never fed their babies. Instead a milk mother would be hired who has given birth to a child around the same time. The milk mother would feed the prince and her son would be called the milk brother. Remember Maha Manga from Jodha Akbar.. She was a milk mother.

The moghuls never married their daughters except of Humayun’s Khala (Father's sister) who led a very exploited life.

Moghuls decided their burial spot before death and almost every king and queen have built a lavish tomb for themselves. Remember the Taj Mahal , the Mecca of Love ??? Its nothing but the tomb of Mumtaz ( Real Name : Arjumand Jamani) and Shah Jahan(Real Name: Prince Khurram)

Akbar was a very intelligent King who started a new religion of his own- Din-e-llahi (There is only One God) . He married Hindu Girls and both were strategies made intelligently to expand his dynasty with minimal or no opposition.

Earlier I found the idea of visiting tombs, how beautiful it may be, very very bizarre. But after reading the entire life of the moghul dynasty, I more than wanted to visit these places. Moreover, every now and then I read the news of restoration of Humayun’s tomb in news portals. Babar’s and Jehangir’s Tomb are not in India. However, Humayun’s Tomb is in South Delhi, Akbar Tomb is in Sikandara and Shah Jahan Tomb’s is in Taj Mahal Agra. Well,he wanted to make a Black Taj Mahal for himself right  in front of the White Taj Mahal. However, a huge amount of Royal Treasure was already spent on the later. If he had build one for himself, the Shahi Khazana would have been Empty. Shah Jahan was adamant to build one for himself which had forced his son Aurangzeb to put him behind closed doors in Agra fort . There, he used to spend his days looking at his lady love tomb right across the river. It was his daughter Jahanara who decided to give him a decent burial and buried him besides his most beloved wife. Poor Soul..May their soul rest in peace in Taj Mahal. But considering it as a World Heritage Site and the amount of tourists who come to see Taj Mahal, I wonder they would ever be getting any peace.

Taj Mahal @ Agra - A world Heirtage Site
I have been lucky enough to visit all the tombs in India. Very few people visit Akbar’s tomb. But I would recommend every body visiting Taj Mahal to visit Akbar’s Tomb as well. The tomb is surrounded by a beautiful garden where you can see black buck, spotted dears grazing around and can be lucky even to see peacocks and peahens flying or sitting on tree branch.
Akbar's Tomb @ Sikandra 
I am so much enchanted and spell bound by their lives today that I can write and write and write and could probably change my profession.. But now I want to write a little bit about their food. Mughals introduced the famous Mughlai Cuisine to India. There food is mostly dominated by meat, nuts, bread and fruits like apricots and pomegranate and spiced with mild delicate flavours. The subtle spices and the sophisticated methods of cooking makes all Mughlai dishes stand apart, adding each ingredient at the right time helps the chef to achieve a good balance and harmony of dishes. Generally, the chefs shy away from spreading the knowledge of their cuisine to the world. Their secrets are best kept within the family and only the blood relative would know the correct technique.

Open Kitchen of Karims
 If you are from Delhi or happen to know about the place, you would be very much aware about Karims in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi. The cooks there are the direct descendents of the Chefs who cooked in Moghul Kitchen and today it is the 4th generation who is successfully running the restaurants. The restaurant is right in front of Jama Masjid and four-wheeler can’t go there. You will have to walk till the place or hire a Cycle Rickshaw driven manually. It is an experience of a life time which any non-veg food lover will easily take to have a glimpse of the place. The place has now 5 or 6 small restaurants with a long waiting. The kitchen is open and in the front. You can see it as soon as you enter the place. The male cooks with Pathani Kurta would be standing and stirring the curry with a long aluminium spatula cooking meat inside big aluminium dekchi. The roomali rotis and tandoori naans would be getting cooked and passed to the waiters at amazing express speed.



The manager at the billing counter humbly agreed so I can take some pictures of the place.

Billing Counter @ Karim , Nizamuddin
We ordered Chicken Jahangiri, Mutton Shorba , Roomali Roti and Tandoori Naan. The food was placed within 5 minutes. All the dishes are Typical Mughal Preparation. I would not recommend ordering Biryani here. There were many other dishes on the menu. However, we were already full by the time we reached there. But visiting Delhi and not visiting Karim’s would have been utter foolishness.











 If you are looking for luxury, a quiet corner for yourself, this is not the place. Don’t even expect a nicely laid table, fancy or even porcelain plates. You can call it hygienic. At the same time, expect a total stranger sitting and eating with you in the same table. Don’t worry . The food is good enough for him to hear your conversation.

Chicken Jahangiri with Roomali Roti


Mutton Shorba with Tandoori Naan

6 comments:

  1. I have visited Delhi a number of times. Stayed at Old Delhi Railway station. No once went to Karim,yet
    :)

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  2. You must visit this place next time you go.. You will enjoy the experience and the rush!!

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  3. Lovely transition from the book to their cooks!!! I should read the book . The post made me drool and miss Delhi :(

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  4. Yes Amrita.. You must read all the 5 books and start from 1st till the 5th to keep up with the flow

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  5. Soma, for me monuments are all photography subjects only....yes, precious subjects indeed :-)
    The interior of Karim as I saw in your pictures reminded me of Tunday Kebab shop of Lucknow :-))

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  6. Thanks Anumoy for reading the post. :) I have been planning to visit Lucknow.. Any good eating joint you suggest ?

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