Shahi in Persian means royal and Tukda is a Hindi or Urdu term means piece. The dish is a very famous dessert and also seen in Iftar festive meals since the Mughal era. It is a dish which is very satisfying and can match everybody's tastes bud. The spongy texture of the bread which soaks in the milky rabdi and the authentic flavor of ghee which makes it very delicious and satisfying. Also, it has bread in it which makes it calories rich carb dessert that in all is good after Roza of Ramadan.
There are many origin stories. One says that it was invented during a hunting expedition by a king Umm Ali and was invented by him when he stopped near River Nile for a Meal break and mixed the stale bread with milk, sugar, and nuts to create it. So, this story says that although it was created by a king but was made out of stale bread. Not so royal after all.
Another story around 14th and 15th AD during the rule of the Mamluks of Egypt, says that it was created as a celebration of the death of the Shajarat Al-Durr, an intelligent maid. She was bought by Assalih Ayyoub, who later became the sultan and they had a son. Later the Sultan died and she was proclaimed the Sultan but it was unacceptable to the Caliphate. She was married to the Mamluk commander with the support of whom she tried to rule but later the relation destabilized out of suspicion of her adultery. Shajarat later killed her second husband but this time she was punished by Umm Ali who was made king. He ordered her to be beaten up by wooden slippers and reward poor people with the Dessert and a gold coin. Not so Shahi but very bloody isn't it. The image below is the descendant of the same punishment.
Some say that it had a Mughal origin and brought to India by Babur. Although the most accepted among the chef is the Balai Tukda which was later converted to Shahi Tukda. During the Mughal era, we got many exotic dishes Awadhi Biryani, Kadhai Murga, Boti kabab, and Galouti kebab. This dish came with a twist when Balai which is thin sheets of pure whole milk was unaffordable to commoners. So it was replaced with bread and the rest of the recipe remained the same. One of the theories also says that it was created by the Mughal chef to avoid wastage of left bread. This one is a lot peaceful in origin than the earlier two, but it is not of royal ancestry.
The left image shows Shahi tukda and the right shows Balai Tukda. The truth is in a majorly democratic world all are equal, its tour taste buds that decide which is royal to you. So, which one is Shahi according to you