Very Interesting , "India's Culinary Lessons - A collector's Compendium ",

Kitchen Brigade of the Mughals

The high level of specialization in the kitchens of the Mughals is well known, but the tradition goes back a long way. There are references in Ancient literature to cooks who specialized only in frying ( Kandavika ), those who focused on Baking ( Apulika), and others who were relied on solely to excel in the flavoring of dishes (Avalika).


There were also cooks dedicated solely to the preparation of rice ( Audanika) and a Suparaka who focused on getting gravies right.
In princely Awadh, which exalted the Mughal culinary legacy,good cooks were so highly prized that they enjoyed high rank at Court. They laid down the terms for their employment & were known to walk out at the least affront to their skills. It is said , one cook who specialized in the preparation of Lentils once warned the Nawab that he would take up the job with him, on condition that he be given one day's notice to prepare the dish and that when the dish was ready, it would be eaten straight away.At the Mughal Court.

Imperial grocery supplies were overseen by the Diwan-I-Buyutat ( the superintendent ). The Mir Bakawal was the Head of the Mughal Imperial Kitchen. He would prepare the list of dishes that would be prepared for the day & delegate actual supervision of preparation to a Sub Bakawal. But the most important duty of all , was that of tasting the food before it was sent to be served at the Imperial Dastarkhwan. This became a necessary step after the near fatal poisoning of Babur by the mother of the last of the Delhi Sultans.


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ABDAR KHANA : The department in the Mughal Imperial kitchen responsible for the preparation of liquid refreshments.

BAWARCHI : A class of cook in the many Imperial kitchens who managed the preparation of food in large Quantities ( bulk Kitchen / Banquet kitchen ).

DEGSHO : It was his responsibility to ensure all cooking utensils were kept spotlessly clean and in the case of copper vessels, tinned as & when required.

HAKIM : this was the name given to the Royal physician in many Indian a Royal Courts. Yakima contributed to creating a cuisine that was both enjoyable & healthful.

KHANSAMA : The Royal Chefs of the court of Rajasthan were a charmed set valued for their knowledge of unique recipes which they were entitled not to share with the Begums.

MASALACHI : A vital member of the brigade who took care of grinding together spices in the right quantities for a range of seasonings.

NANFU : He specialized in the preparation of Breads that would be consumed during Royal meals. He had to ensure the breads paired well with the foods. The Name of Naan came from NANFU.

MEHRI : responsible for conducting the prepared dishes from the kitchen to the dining hall & to reheat the cooked food before serving.

RAKABDAR : The equivalent of today's gourmet Chef, he cooked only in small quantities & paid close attention to garnishing & presentations.

VAID : A practitioner of ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda which informed Indian Cookery and laid down recommendations on ideal food combinations.

HALWAI : A hereditary profession that continues to be in currency, Halwais specialize in the preparation of a range of traditional sweets, not just halwa which is a gelatinous sweet made fro Suji, ghee,sugar & assorted Nuts.

KEBABCHI : He specialized in preparing skewers of ground meat in various formats & in inventing more than a few including the melt in mouth Gilawat Kebab.

MOIRA : A traditional community of Bengali sweet meat makers that dates back to several centuries, they are credited with the ushering in a new wave of Bengali Sweets such as Rasgulla & varieties of Sandes.

SAUNDLIKA : Ancient community of wine distillers in Orissa.


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