So, another one of my birthdays passed in Plague Time. I haven’t done any birthday celebrating since March of 2019. That’s a while.
In March of 2020 I was in isolation with Covid for my birthday. In March of 2021 I was vaccinated but taking no chances. March of 2022, I’d gotten my booster in February, so I was now as ready as I was ever going to be to celebrate my birthday, and I figured why the hell not fire up the Homdoor Tandoor and invite some friends over to semi-party. Usually, we fill the house, this time it was just a few friends and kids in the garden for an outdoor Indian lunch.
Of course what to cook? It was a birthday, and I hadn’t had one of those in going on 3 years. BTW, I did not count those missing year birthdays so I’m actually 3 yrs younger. Those are my new plague years rules, live with it. We are all 3 yrs younger.
I thought the perfect dish to cook for a company tandoor lunch would be something regal. The ultimate royal tandoor dish would be Tikka Mughlai. We were going all the way back to the days of the Mughal Empire. We’d have lamb, flowers, Basmati rice, saffron, and all the fixings. I even baked a Chai and Apple Cake and decorated it in gold. There’s a story behind this cake…wait for it.
We had Goldilocks weather, not too hot not too cold. perfect to set a table in the garden.
Tikka Mughlai is the product of the merger of Islamic cooking with the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent during the rule of the Mughal Emperors in the early 1400s to the mid-1800s. Its recipes are rich with aromatic spices, butter, cream, saffron, dried fruits and nuts. This cooking takes time, it’s where one sees the gold and silver leaf, the edible flowers as decor. The Works! Make no mistake, this is the food of the elites! Perfect for someone who hasn’t celebrated in going on 3 years.
One ruler, in particular, Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame took this cooking to the heights, expanding the use of spices and lavish panoply. Meals were fit not just for a King, but for an Emperor. So, yeah, perfect for my garden. I decided to go for the gold and prepare Tikka Mughlai.
It seems like a complicated dish, as there are a LOT of ingredients but nothing you can’t find at any market. The main prep equipment is a food processor or a wet-dry grinder (an inexpensive little device that really comes in handy for Indian cooking) I bought mine for about 20 bucks online.