The love affair between Madhya Pradesh and food is one that has lasted for decades. Placed smack in the centre of the country, the food habits in this state are varied, unique and memorable. This is mainly due to the fact that over the years, migration, wars and empires have left an indelible mark on the eating traditions of the state.
So whether it is the poha that is influenced from Maharashtra or Nawabi cuisine of Bhopal that is inspired from Lucknow, there are innumerable food outlets here, some of which stay open all day and night, fuelling and satiating the appetite of the city. Here are 10 dishes that deserve a definite place on your plate, next time you visit this state.
A popular breakfast delicacy even in North India (even the entire country), there are many variations of poha that are consumed in different parts of the country. In Madhya Pradesh however, a lot of locals serve tangy poha along with namkeen, jalebi and Bhopali sulaimani chai, a breakfast combination that is truly unmissable. Some places that serve this dish in Bhopal include swaad bhandar on Itwara road and Raju tea stall near Peer Gate.
Very similar to Dal Bhati, Dal Bafla is a popular dish in this state. It is served as a thali meal with crunchy wheat balls that are either cooked or baked, along with spicy dal that is dipped in ghee, curry, and pickles. Vyas dal bhati in Ratlam and Rajhans in Safara market are two places that you should bookmark, in case you want to try this dish.
Bhutte Ka Kees
Made with grated corn (keesna means to ‘grate’), roasted in ghee and cooked in milk with spices, bhuttey ke kees is a unique speciality of Madhya Pradesh. Although, it is really popular in Indore, it is now available in almost every corner of the state. Joshi Dahi Bada House in Safara bazaar, Indore is the place to have it.
Bhopali Ghosht Korma
Madhya Pradesh has had a great influence of Mughlai cuisine and this is truly reflected in the Bhopali Ghosht korma. An integral part of the Nawabi cuisine, it is made by cooking mutton chunks slowly in rich spicy gravy. Typically eaten with rice or roti, the mutton literally melts in your mouth. Each ingredient is the hero and Chatori Gali in Bhopal is the best place to try this incredible dish.
This is a Persian originated lamb dish. Filfora restaurant in Bhopal serves the best spice enriched Rogan Josh. This restaurant also offers dishes like Murgh rezala and keccha kebab.
Every state has their own way of preparing a biryani. In the biryani pilaf served in Bhopal, mutton is the main ingredient, though there are many places that also make chicken pilaf as well. Served with a lot of dry fruits like pistachios, cashews and raisins, this is one dish that is high on both flavour, taste and spice. The rice is prepared or rather boiled with milk and sugar, giving it a totally unique twist. Chatori Gali is the place where you enjoy this dish.
Deliciously soft, yet crisp at the same time, with a tangy lingering spice, kebabs are a fine mixture of tender lamb mince that are further enhanced by roasted spices and seasonings. In Bhopal, kebabs are slow cooked in an open oven to add the final finishing touches and serve as great appetizers. We recommend you start with a double order.
While everyone loves khaman (or dokhla as it is known), in western Madhya Pradesh, another version of the dish is also popular where it is fried and sprinkled with chaat masala. So, while the regular dhokla is generally made from besan, in MP the fried version is made from chana dal, as it is firmer and can be deep fried in a simpler manner.
Similar to a stuffed gulab jamun, the mawa-based dough is filled with mawa, dry fruits and nuts, deep-fried till brown and lightly soaked in sugar syrup. Sometimes, it is dusted with desiccated coconut powder. There are a lot of stalls in old Bhopal that serve this dish along with other sweets like Malpua, Kopra Pak, and Imarti.
A local favourite throughout MP, namkeen is enjoyed in almost every corner of the state. However sev is one form of namkeen that remains a constant favourite among the locals. A savoury noodle-shaped snack made from chickpea flour paste, sev is seasoned with spices, sieved and deep-fried in oil. It is of varied thickness and is consumed as a stand-alone snack or as a garnish on poha, mixtures or chaats like bhel puri and sev puri. Each region has its flavour variants–from Ratlami sev to finer Ujjaini sev.