Dal Makhani to Sambar: how famous Indian dishes are invented

Want to know how your favorite dishes are created? Let’s find out.

Here are some of the stories behind our favorite dishes.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhaniwaa created by chef Kundan Lal Jaggi who is one of the best chefs the country has ever seen. The traces of the dish went back to Old Delhi. Kundan Lal Jaggi had a restaurant in Peshawar with name Moti Mahal Delux but after the partition, he came to India and opened his restaurant in Old Delhi. The origin story of dal makhani is interesting and it is linked to butter chicken. One day, around the closing time of the restaurant, a man came to Kundan Lal Jaggi and asked him for food and probably a chicken dish. Jaggi only had some leftover tandoori chicken with him. He tossed it in the pan and added the tomatotes, dollops of butter and the few spices that he had at that time the dish turned out to be great and it was loved by many. Jaggi named it butter chicken but the vegetarians demanded him to make something for them too. So, Jaggi created the same recipe by cooking the pulses overnight and adding the same ingredients. The dish was dal makhani.


The origin story of sambar is also interesting but there are two versions of it. Both the stories have their traces to Maharashtra and it is said that the son of MaharanaPratap, Sambhaji, decided to cook something in the kitchen adter the head chef went missing. He wanted to cook dal but added the pulp of tomatoes in it and no one dared to correct him. The sour flavored dal was liked by many and the innovation was further improvised and named as Sambar. Another story suggests that the same was cooked by a minister of MaharanaPratap and not by his son.


Like Sambar, Biryani too has different versions of it inception. The name comes from the word biriyan which means frying before cooking and it is a Persian word. It s said that Mumtaz Mahal asked his chef to cook something which is a complete dish and he invented biryani, based on his experience in Middle East. Another legend is that it came through Kazakhstan to India as a gift to the ruler who then asked the chef to make its own version.

PavBhaji – PavBhaji was invented in Mumbai. A man saw the plight of labors who did not have enough time for lunch and tried to make something with the leftovers and invented pavbhaji.

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