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Have you tasted these ancient Indian curries?

Last updated on: October 25, 2018 12:05 IST

These five recipes by chef Kunal Kapoor will take you back in time and taste.

1. Qaliya


In 1327, Mohammad Bin Tughlaq decided to move his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad because of constant attacks on the sultanate, present day Aurangabad.

He felt being at the centre would help him control a larger part of the country.

But Tughlaq had a huge army to be fed and taken care of. His cooks who were from Central Asia came up with the idea of Qaliya, in which instead of saffron, they added turmeric for colour and its antiseptic properties.

Today Aurangabad still makes Naan Qaliya.

It is also claimed that the first qaliya was made in India in 7th century in Bengal by the Arab traders who landed at the port of Chittagong.

Some of the popular versions of qaliyas made in the country are Kundan Qaliya by Nawabs of Oudh, Chamman Qaliya in Kashmir, Macher Kalia in Bengal and Mahi Qaliya in Hyderabad.

Qaliya is currently limited to homes in Aurangabad and Kolkota.

Kundan Qaliya has almost vanished from the dinner tables and replaced with Kormas which are easier to make.


  • 500 gm mutton
  • 2 onions fried
  • 2 garlic pods
  • 2 inch ginger
  • Salt as per taste
  • ½ cup curd
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 inch stick cinnamon
  • 5 to 6 nos black pepper
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1 mace
  • 4 to 5 cloves


  • Heat a pan and add some ghee.
  • Add elaichi, black pepper, mace, cinnamon and clove.
  • Add mutton and sauté.
  • Blend ginger and garlic to make a paste.
  • Add this to the mixture.
  • Add turmeric and let it cook.
  • Add salt and curd.
  • Add fried onions and cook till mutton is done.

2. Kunna Gosht

Kunna Gosht

The dish from undivided Punjab is a nomadic dish, born somewhere in Chiniot, Faislabad.

Today, Pakistan side of Punjab still makes Kunna Gosht at homes but in India, very few Punjabi families are into making Kunna /Kunni or Matka gosht


  • 500 gm mutton (medium size pieces)
  • 2 tbsp ginger
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 3 to 4 onions (medium sized, thinly sliced)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt according to taste
  • Oil to cook

For the masala

  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 4 to 5 green cardamom
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tsp black pepper corns
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 to 5 tbsp ghee
  • Water


  • In a pot, heat some oil.
  • Add onions, ginger-garlic paste.
  • Add ingredients mentioned under masala and add mutton.
  • Add in some water and let it cook.
  • Add salt as required.
  • Stir in between and add water if needed.

3. Murg Musallam Oundh style

Murg Mussallam

The dish has various claims that it was part of Delhi sultanate first and later became a popular dish on dinning table of Nawab of Oudh.

Historically, it was first mentioned by Ibn Battuta in his rehla (journey) that he has consumed a full chicken in the court of Mohammad Bin Tuglaq.

Gradually Oudh has also made Murg Musallam in their court. The dish is mentioned in Ain-e-Akbari (Akbar's constitution), which means it was also part of Mughal dastarkwans (spread).

While the style of cooking may vary, the stuffing also varies.


  • 1 whole chicken
    1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 cup curd
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • Pinch of saffron and color
  • 1 cup birista (thin onion slices)
  • One egg boiled
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • Few tsps ghee
  • Dry fruits: cashews, pista, badam, akhrot
  • 1 cup khoya


  • Clean and wash whole chicken.
  • Using a fork, poke holes in the entire body of the chicken.
  • Marinate with ginger, garlic, red chili powder and curd for a few hours.
  • After marination, layer the inside with pepper and a tsp of ghee.
  • Stuff with a mixture of birista, khoya and chopped dry fruits with egg.
  • Tie the wings and legs firmly with a thread.
  • Fry on high heat so that the layer is crispy fried.
  • Add remaining marinade with 2 cup of boiled water.
  • Cover and cook on sim.
  • When done, sprinkle some garam masala, sweet atar and a little kewra water.
  • Mussallam is ready to be served.

4. Bugga Curry

Bugga curry

The dry bugga is now a story of past.

It's a bit stinky so the young generation may not like eating bugga. They prefer Bombay duck over it.

Even in koli homes, very few make dry bugga curry. Even restaurants in Mumbai make kharavlelya bagya chi ukad (fresh bugga curry) only on special request.


  • 8 to 10 pieces fresh bugga (a type of dry fish)
  • 2 pipli (long pepper)
  • A pinch fresh turmeric (preferably Ambe halad)
  • 1 small kairi (raw mango)
  • 1 whole garlic
  • 300 ml water


  • Soak the cleaned and divided bugga pieces in warm water for 15 minutes.
  • The pieces should rehydrate.
  • Use a handi or terracotta pot.
  • Add water to it. Add crushed turmeric and coarse crushed pipli.
  • Bring to boil.
  • Add bugga pieces in the boiling pot. Cook until done.
  • Roast the whole garlic on embers.
  • Crush to pop out the cooked garlic. Mash just a bit. Add this to the curry.
  • Finally add kairi and boil till it is soft.

5. Chicken Chitanee

Chicken Chitanee

This curry was made famous by Bagdadi Jews based out of Kolkata.

Over the years the diminishing population of Bagdadi Jews in Kolkata has to led to a question whether this dish will survive in India.

Most Jews have migrated to Israel.

The only restaurant which served Bagdadi jew cuisine also shut down last year in Kolkota.


  • 1 and ½ kg chicken
  • 6 to 8 medium onions
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground garlic
  • 6 to 8 red chillies
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp lime
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar


  • Chop onions.
  • Grind pepper and garlic.
  • Heat oil, fry onions till brown.
  • Add ginger, garlic and chillies.
  • Add ¼ cup water to cumin and coriander powder and add this mix to the onion mix and make a gravy.
  • Add chicken, tomato Puree, lime, salt and sugar.
  • Add water, if needed.
  • Cook till chicken is tender.
  • Serve with rice.

Chef Kunal Kapoor is part of Curries of India, a show that features on LF, an international lifestyle channel.

Chef Kunal Kapoor