The Aurangabad Experience – Nan Qualia

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A lot of us, photographers, travel to new places on assignment of different kinds. Likewise, when we went to Aurangabad for this documentary shoot, little did I know that I will be witnessing one of the most popular culinary delights of the country.

When Mohammad Tughlaq shifted its capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, he brought with him his huge pool of arsenal which included thousands of soldiers, horses, elephants and his gamut of servants.

Everything was in place. The only people who were in deep trouble were the cooks. They had no idea how to feed thousands of hungry stomachs, three times a day. Chefs, cooks, helpers were appointed from far and near to cater to a requirement of multi-thousand rotis to be cooked everyday.

This is when the royal cooks of Mughal Empire came up with their culinary innovation that put a rest to this problem. A new variety of roti was given birth to, which was 4-5 times the size of the regular dough, baked in an earthen pot with coal burning inside. This is how Nan was born. Of course, the nan that you order today is a much mellowed down and sophisticated version of the original nan.

The counter-part Qalia is a thick-gravy based beef preparation which is cooked in huge vessels resembling the size of a circular bath-tub.

So when I was given this delicacy to sample, one Nan was little over enough for me with two bowls of Qalia. A delicious rich gravy with pieces of boneless beef which is goes brilliantly with the super soft nan. All you have to do is dunk small pieces of nan in the gravy and get lost in the aroma and taste of the qalia. The meal is ideally complete with a portion of shahi tukda as dessert. It’s said that the invention of Nan-Qalia brought down the requirement of rotis from around 20-25 per person to 3-4 per person.      

However, no matter how tasty and history rich this preparation is, presently, the tradition of Nan-Qalia is kept alive only through Muslim weddings. If you are lucky to be an invitee to a Muslim wedding in Aurangabad, don’t miss the possibly one time opportunity to taste one of the finest food preparations of Mughal times.

-Bibartan Ghosh

(Disclaimer- This blog is a personal opinion & is wriiten by an individual who visited Aurangabad and not by Deven Group) 

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