Prithvi Salan & A Mother’s Revenge

Dilli ki Nihari
Chaar haath chaubis gaj angor asth praman
taa upar sultan he mat chuko Chauhan

– Chand Bardai

This heirloom recipe dates all the way back to the time of Prithvi Raj Chauhan — Rai Pithora of legend — who ruled over a region spanning present-day Delhi, Haryana, and Rajasthan in the 13th Century. But what would bring a measure of fame — rather, notoriety — to this dish are the film-worthy antics over this region that would play out a few centuries later.

Enter: Babur, fresh from a string of victories and galloping across the mountains to realise his designs on India. He succeeds in gaining the favour of allies who help him overthrow Ibrahim Lodi and take over the Delhi Sultanate, setting the stage for what will become the Mughal Empire. Like any magnanimous newcomer to a throne, he offers refuge to the family of the usurped leader before settling down to enjoy and defend his new territory.

But Dilawar Begum, Ibrahim Lodi’s mother is not about to be content with refuge offered by her son’s usurper and killer. Moreover she has till recently enjoyed the status of dowager queen. So she lies in wait to exact the perfect revenge on Babur at his Fort residence in Agra. Her channel will be the imperial kitchen. A dish of prithvi salan served with bread will be the chosen vehicle for her plan. Does she succeed? Find out in this post.

We encourage you to try your hand at preparing this historic dish. Be certain that this version has the power to excite and delight rather than harm. Then again, everything hinges on your intentions. For an added dash of authenticity, consider using pipli (long pepper) in the place of green chillies; for as most of you will know already, it was only later, in the 15th Century, that chillies made their way to India, from their home in Mexico.

Number of portions: 10
Tools: Heavy bottom pan, lid, slicer
Plate: Curry bowl
Sensitivity note: Should not be overdone
Shelf life: 1 day
Ingredients Quantity
Desi ghee 180 gm
Lamb chops(2 bones) 1.8 kg
Cloves 10
Cardamom 10
Cinnamon 2
Bay leaves 5
Dry red chillies 10
Salt To taste
Ginger paste 25 gm
Garlic paste 75 gm
Sliced onion 450 gm
Beaten curd 300 gm
Lamb stock 300 ml
Crushed coriander 20 gm
Crushed peppercorn 20 gm
Ginger (juliennes) 15 gm
Chopped coriander 15 gm
Sliced green chillies 15 gm

1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan, add clove, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves and red chillies, then add the lamb pieces after they have been washed and drained.
2. Add ginger and garlic paste, sprinkle 30 ml water and cover with lid, simmer for 10 minutes on a very low flame.
3. Remove the lid and turn up the flame, then add the sliced onions. Saute the meat and onions together for about 10 minutes until the moisture is absorbed.
4. Add beaten yoghurt, lamb stock, crushed coriander seeds and peppercorn, cover the vessel with the lid once agaib and allow it to simmer until the lamb is well done and the ghee floats to the surface.
5. Garnish with hara masala i.e. ginger, coriander, and slit green chillies.