A Bit of History About Dum Cooking

As we promised in our blog post dated October 17, we will try to write something now and then on Indian cooking and world cuisine. In the first of these posts, we think it makes sense to write a bit about Dum cooking – a cooking style that is relatively unknown outside the Indian subcontinent – simply because it is very close to our heart, as reflected in our restaurant’s name.

Dum cooking has ancient origins. Also called Larhmeen (means slow cooking) in Persian, the cooking may have started among the nomadic tribes around modern Iran or Afghanistan who roamed from place to place and wanted a meal that was filling and yet did not need too many accompaniments or care while cooking.

One can very well imagine the nomads putting all meat and vegetables in a sealed pot and letting the mixture cook over a slow fire through the day, as they took their herd out for pasture. In fact, this train of thought makes us think that it is likely that Dum cooking was also used in military camps of ancient and medieval armies as they rested in open fields or hills during or between campaigns.

Whatever and however it may have been used in those days, modern Dum cooking owes it presence to a quirk of fate. During the 18th century, a north Indian princely state called Awadh (the current north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh) was hit by a famine. The Nawab (may be translated as Prince or King) realised that starving population needed to be fed and initiated a food-for-work programme. Thousands volunteered for work. The cooks manning the kitchens soon saw that it was impossible to cook 2-3 dishes for everyone, and the only possible option to feed the hungry workers and give them the nourishment they needed was to adopt the ancient technique of Dum cooking.

They mixed all meat, vegetables, rice and spices in large pots and cooked them over a slow fire over a few hours. The prepared food was then distributed among the workers as an all-in-one meal.

Dum cooking results in a very tantalising aroma when the food is cooked. This aroma was what caught the attention of the Nawab when he was visiting the construction site. One thing led to the other and Dum cooking soon became a staple dish in the Nawab’s menu. And in the hands of the Royal Cooks, it evolved into its new avatar. Many other Dum dishes also came into being. Soon, the cooking style moved to noblemen’s houses and from there to people’s homes.

Today, Dum cooking is an essential part of Indian cuisine and you will find it everywhere, especially in North India. The rich yet subtle aroma and taste make it unlike anything you will have ever tasted. It is one of those dishes where all ingredients complement each other to create a perfectly harmonious fusion.

Our Dum dishes bring the flavours of this cooking to Dickson. Whether you are coming in for dinner or getting a lunch delivery in Dickson or Canberra, our Dum items will make you their fan. Some of the Dum dishes on our menu are Dum Chicken Curry, Dum Lamb Saag, Dum Goat Curry, Bengali Dum Aloo and Dal Dum Pukht.

Come and enjoy the taste of Indian Dum cuisine at what our patrons often call the best Indian restaurant In Canberra.