This stunning and important cook book in Urdu on over 350 pages includes 680 recipes for various traditional dishes, typical for the Hyderabadi palaces in the time of the sixth Nizam Mir Mahboob Ali Khan (1866-1911).
The author of the book was Ghulam (Servant) Mahbub, the master chef of the palace of Sir Asman Jah (1839-1898), an Indian nobleman from an important Paigah family, who grew up with the future Nizam Mir Mahboob Ali Khan as a half-brother and served as prime minister of Hyderabad from 1887 to 1894.
Asman Jah was a notorious gourmand and bon vivant, known for his extravagant dishes and luxury feasts.
Not much is known about Asman Jah’s chef, who authored the book. He signed himself under the dedication as Ghulam Mahbub, the Palace Master Chef of Nawab Sir Aasman Jah Bahadur (Dar we Bawarchikhana Nawab Sir Aasman Jah Bahadur). According to the stamp on the back, he received a license to sell his book in 1894 (1310).
The recipes from this book are in variations still used today and represent a valuable insight in the Nizami cuisine.
The book contains 680 recipes, including 46 recipes for bread, 30 different variants of biryanis, 18 pulaus, 16 khichdis, 48 dopiazas, 21 khormas, 45 kababs, 29 types of naan,
25 varieties of chutneys and 33 types of achaar (pickles).
The images at the beginning of the book showcase 46 traditional forms for the following types of bread: Pichki, Sheermal, Bakarkhani, Capri, Gaw-Zaban, Panja Kash, Asad Khwani, Gaw Deedah, Sheermal Gul, Tanki, Goller, Naan e Naazuk, Naan Gul e Dawoodi, Baqarkhwani Dam, Akbari, Mazhari, Paneeri, Besani, Kunjad, Taaftaan, Jawaar, Roghani, Sheer, Aashkhor, Masehri, Nau Nemat, Warqi, Taimoori, Totak, Mahbub Pasand, Luqmi, Aash Luqmi, Chapada, Puri, Saaq e Aroos, Samosa, Poori Puran, Kanole, Samosa Warqi, Qutalmah /Qatalmah, Poori Abri, Gajri, Kashtali Baiza, Kashtali, Nargis and Kuukuu.
A Curiosity of the Book Trade
Our example was imported to the Ottoman Empire in 1901, a year quoted on the back page, and the book importer and seller had to adjust two pages of the book to the local market and censorship.
The last page of the index was therefore carefully replaced with a hand-written facsimile, with adjusted text in the lower part. Also the dedication page, originally bound after the title page and probably praising the Nizam of Hyderabad, was removed. The new dedication, this time to the Ottoman Sultan Abdelhamid II with all his superlatives, was hand written in Arabic language on the back of the title page.
The bookseller’s annotation on the back page notes the changes on 5 Rajab 1319 (Rumi calendar) and 19 October 1901 (Gregorian calendar). The stamp on the bottom bears the author’s name Ghulam Mahbub and year 1310 (Rumi), suggesting that Mahbub had received the licence to sell his own book in that year.
The book is exceedingly rare and we could not find any institutional examples.