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When Babur, the first Mughal emperor travelled through Persia and Afghanistan to rule over India, he brought camels loaded with musk and damask roses with him. His love for roses is epitomised
in his own words:

My heart, like the bud of the red, red rose,
Lies fold within fold aflame,
Would the breath of even a myriad Springs,
Blow my heart's bud to a rose?

The love affair with roses was such that each one of Babur’s daughters was given a rose related name: Gulchihra (rosecheeked), Gulrukh (rose-faced), Gulbadan (rose-body) and Gulrang (rose-colour). This dish celebrates the romance of roses in the Mughal era and I am certain it would have pleased Babur himself. It has a gentle floral undertone, but if you like the perfume of roses, feel free to increase the quantity of rose water to your heart’s desire.


Posted by Hodder & Stoughton Published See Hodder & Stoughton's 34 projects » © 2022 Saliha Mahmood Ahmed / Hodder & Stoughton · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    Combine all the ingredients for the chicken patties, except the oil, in a large bowl and mix well. Place in the fridge for about 45 minutes.

  • Step 2

    To make the shorba, pour the stock into a pan and add the star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods and ginger and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, then remove and discard the spices and ginger and add the shredded chicken.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a separate pan, add the onion and fry over a low-medium heat for 20–25 minutes. When the onions are a deep golden brown add the cumin seeds, turmeric and Kashmiri chilli powder and fry lightly to release the flavours. Add this onion and spice mixture to the pan of stock and stir to combine. Blend the cornflour with a few tablespoons of water to form a very smooth paste.

  • Step 4

    Pour this paste into the shorba and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring gently. The shorba with thicken immediately.

  • Step 5

    To prepare the rice, preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan), gas mark 6 and wash the rice thoroughly in a sieve until the water runs clear. Bring a large ovenproof pan of salted water to the boil, add the rice and cook for three-quarters of the cooking time given on the packet, or until the rice is almost cooked but still has some bite. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a separate pan, add the saffron and allow it to steep in the melted butter. Drain the rice thoroughly, return to the pan and pour
    over the saffron butter. Sprinkle over the rose water, cover the pan with a lid and allow to steam in the oven for 15 minutes until the rice is cooked through.

  • Step 6

    While the rice is in the oven, shape the chicken mixture into small flat patties using lightly oiled hands. Pan-fry in vegetable oil over a medium heat for a few minutes on each side until cooked through.

  • Step 7

    To finish the shorba, add the rose water, lemon juice, chopped coriander and salt to taste just before serving with the chicken patties and saffron rice.

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