The Rich Cuisine of Madhya Pradesh : A Culinary Experience to Savour
Any Indian food enthusiast would very well know that Bhopal and Indore are a food lover’s paradise. Read any listicle on the must-try foods when visiting the Heartland of India and you will come across, Bhutte ka Kees, Dal Bafla, Doodh Chana, Garadu Chaat and Biryan, the biryani of Bhopal, from across the various regions in the state. The state also boasts of unique mithais such as Chironji ki Barfi and Mawa ki Jalebi.
Mornings in the central state of India begin with poha-jalebi, main course dishes include kebabs, kormas, and are finished off with an exotic pick of Petha paan. When in Indore, you just cannot miss the famous Sarafa Bazaar of Indore that, as the name says, is a jewellery market by day and turns into a street-food haven for midnight foodies. There is the Chatori Galli of Bhopal, that has food stalls selling kebabs, paaya (trotter soup), and a tempting variety of sweets. Some other local specialities are Murgh Razala Bhopali (chicken cooked in white gravy), Malwa ka Bhatta Bharta (baingan bharta), Dal-bati with Churma Laddoo and Guian (arbi,taro root) vegetable.
In case this makes you think that Madhya Pradesh is known only for vegetarian fare, then you are mistaken. The state has had a rich cultural heritage, parts of which have witnessed the influence of Mughal and Maratha rulers. Resultantly, the food is influenced by both these dynasties and non-vegetarian food is prominently eaten, though in selective regions only.
Interestingly, Bhopal enjoys the reputation of being a meat lovers’ paradise. Interestingly, shikari food or gaming meats also had a considerable influence on the cuisine of the capital city. The royals of Bhopal, an erstwhile princely state, are said to have enjoyed some of the most extravagant dishes such as, parindey mein parinda (seven birds stuffed into one another).
Then, there has also been the influence of adjacent districts such as Shahjahanpur, Saharanpur and Rampur on Bhopal. Under this influence, vegetables began to be added to meats and thus we got other exquisite dishes such as, tamatar gosht, chukandar gosht and aloo gosht.
The dishes are not only unique but some also differ in their preparations. The Shahi Tukda made in Bhopal uses a day-old bread and is baked as a final touch before serving. The Rezala of Bhopal uses fresh coriander unlike its Lucknowi and Kolkata versions.
Anyone may wonder as to how with so many fascinating dishes to offer, the cuisine of the state and particularly that of Bhopal and Indore is not so well-known outside of Madhya Pradesh. One of the theories could be, the recipes were closely guarded by the royals of Bhopal and hence never reached the commoners.
So, let us take a look at the iconic dishes of Madhya Pradesh beginning from their breakfast dishes, and a main course preparation.
The way Indori Poha is made, is by tempering the flattened rice with fennel seeds, garam masala along with the staple tempering ingredients. Interestingly, both onions and potatoes are also added along with peas. This is then followed by a vibrant garnish of Ratlami sev, carrots, pomegranate pearls and a sprinkle of the jeerawan masala. So, here’s your first part of the amazing poha-jalebi breakfast.
If you visit Madhya Pradesh in winter then you must definitely try this purple yam-based street food. Boiled and deep-fried yam chunks tossed in a special jeerawan masala and other seasoning is a quick, healthy treat.
Yet another simple preparation made using household staples is the Indori Masala Roti. The dough is made using refreshing mint, onions and garam masala. A wonderful preparation that goes well as breakfast or as a quick option when you wish to skip making sabzi.
The non-veg lovers will rejoice at this and Bhopal is known for this. Bhopali Mutton Korma is prepared with spices, in which fennel seeds feature, tied in a small bundle that is put into the onion-spice paste and cooked along with the meat and rice. It is best had with steamed jeera rice or naan.
This delicious dessert that is mentioned in the Rig Vedas and also in Buddhist and Jain scriptures is eaten on Holi and during Ramadan. Supposedly, the country’s oldest sweet, the malpua has evolved from its earliest preparations made from barley and used honey to sweeten it and then wheat with sugarcane juice to sweeten it and now refined flour. Lightly sweet, Malpuas taste divine with rabadi.
With so much to offer in food and as people become increasingly aware of this amazing cuisine, we eagerly look forward to restaurants serving authentic specialities from the Heartland of India.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.