The richness and delectable period curries of Lucknow are well-known in the culinary world. Yet without shirmal, these curries do not appear to be appetising. Shirmal is a tandoori saffron naan that is slightly sweet and popular during Ramadan Iftar.
It is believed that this dish originated in the kitchen of the Nawabs of Awadh. Chefs or rakabdars made this naan in tandoor with spices like saffron and cardamom and then it became an important part of our food.
Does it really belong to the city of Nawabs or was it built with inspiration from someone? Let us also know about the history of Shirmal Nan.
Did Shirmal Nan come from Persia?
According to some stories, Shirmal’s origin is told in Persia and it is said that it traveled to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan through the Silk Road. However, legend has it that Nan was the result of an experiment during the reign of Ghaziuddin Haider, the first king of Awadh. When he requested to make a new type of bread in front of his chefs. Shirmal was prepared by a local baker named Mahmud, who is also credited with Nihari’s invention.
Within the Indian subcontinent, the Mughals used to carry Shirmal with them. Galoti kebabs, which were made for the Nawab of Lucknow, were stuffed inside Shirmal. Made with maida and saffron, this naan is softened with milk (sheer in Persian means milk). It has a delicate flaver.
Indian cities have different versions of Shirmal
There are many versions of it in various Indian cities and it is usually found in older areas. In many cities of India, shirmal is round, which is made with saffron. However, in Bhopal, it takes a rectangular shape. Buffalo milk is a natural sweetener and is used to prepare soft dough for shirmal. Some cooks also add kevada essence to it and add cloves in Bhopal.
Lucknow also has shirmal wali gali, which was established during the reign of nawabs and is an entire street full of bakeries that will fascinate you with the scent of freshly cooked bread. In this street you will also find other types of flatbreads such as Naan, Bakr Khani and Taftan etc.