Given its geographical location, Madhya Pradesh has been kenned, as India’s heart, however, its the state’s mellow culture, cuisine and history is what truly makes it the nation’s core. Madhya Pradesh extends a number of diverse experiences. From striking landscapes to devoutness, and from historic landmarks to bustling markets, MP sure packs a wallop. Although, it’s the “Gastronomic Escapade” of Madya Pradesh that leaves everyone rhapsodising. Predominantly, MP cuisine takes its inspiration from the neighbouring states, particularly reflecting the Nawabi culture from Rajasthan. Bhopal, MP’s capital, (the city of Nawabs) is the best city to taste some authentic, lip-smacking regional food. Curries and kebabs are the most-accredited recipes of the city. Whether vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, you must not miss MP’s exquisite food at any cost. Here’s a rundown of 15 top dishes you must positively taste while visiting the state.
Hara Masala Kebab:
Hara Masala Kebab (also called Hara Bhara Kebab) is an active strength boosting snack which is loved by both the adults, as well as, the children. In Bhopal, Hara Masala Kebab is a griddle cooked pattie made from blending together spinach, green peas, cottage cheese, potato and spices. Roasted golden crisp on either side, these delicious starters are served with yoghurt coriander chutney.
This spicy chicken recipe includes chargrilling succulent pieces of chicken breast – which are marinated overnight with hung curd, garam masala and freshly crushed spices with a distinct touch of Degi chilli and seasoning. The exquisite flavours of Murgh Angara make it a celebratory snack.
Paneer Tikka Lababdar with Warqi Paratha:
Paneer Tikka Lababdar with Warqi Paratha is another typical speciality dish in which the paneer tikka is mellowed with lababdar gravy and served with rolled Warqi paratha. The exotic lababdar gravy is prepared by collectively cooking tomato puree, chopped onions, cashew nuts and spices. Warqi paratha, on the other hand, is a layered paratha loaded with Ghee. Together, this toothsome combination of cottage cheese and layered paratha is outstanding.
Bhopali Mutton Korma:
Bhopali Mutton Korma is a 15th-century flavourful recipe with roots tracing back to city’s most-relished royal cuisine. Bhopali Mutton Korma is prepared by immersing meat chunks in a creamy spicy gravy, seasoned with, whole spices. This gravy is cooked, by frying together onions, curd and speciality spices.
Kadai Paneer is a traditional cottage cheese recipe where it’s cooked with bell peppers and exotic spices. In Bhopal, it is prepared by mellowing the cottage cheese chunks with tomato, capsicum cubes, onion slices and ultimately garnished with whole spices and diced coriander. It’s usually served with parantha or rice.
Mutton Rogan Josh:
Mutton Rogan Josh is a spicy royal affair. It’s a curry-based Indian dish characterised by its dense, flavoursome red gravy comprising tender meat chunks. “Rogan” implies purified butter in Persian, and “Red” in Hindi wherein, “Josh” refers to fiery hot passion. Thus, this dish requires a cooking style where an oil-based gravy is cooked, on intense heat. Rogan josh holds lamb pieces (or braised mutton) in a gravy seasoned with bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, garlic, onions and even yoghurt. Following primary braising, Mutton Rogan Josh is perfected, by practising the Dampokhtak slow cooking technique. This dish is a class of its own!
Maa Ki Dal:
Maa Ki Dal is a novel preparation of black Urad dal and some rajma cooked with fried onions in Ghee. It’s finished in Dum and garnished with chilli flakes. This traditional Bhopali dish is slow-cooked and can be made for everyday meals. The slow cooking over hours is what gives Maa Ki Dal its classic taste. This style of cooking confers a gravity to the flavour. Maa Ki Dal can be served, with Boondi Raita and Phulka.
Bhuna Mutton Raan:
Bhuna Mutton Raan is pan-fried meat in aromatic spices. A classic Raan is a goat leg wherein, Bhuna glosses to fried meat. When seared, the meat allows the aromatic spices to seep in their flavour. The recipe of Bhuna Gosht demands you to ‘fry the meat’ with the spices – first on high and then on the medium heat. Until, the method lends, fine brown-colour and locks the juices. Bhuna Mutton Raan is ‘traditionally’ eaten with an Indian flatbread.
Bhopali Khichda is a porridge cooked with a variety of lentils and boneless mutton with spices. It is cooked in a slow process, separate from Haleem. To cook Bhopali Khichda, rice and lentils are cooked with mutton, onions, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, cumin, chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, salt and green paste. It’s cooked till meat is tender and is served garnished.
Mutton Do Pyaza:
The Bhopali “Mutton Do Pyaza,” is a hearty recipe that presents to you tender mutton chunks cooked in brown onions and yoghurt gravy. This spicy curry dish is usually cooked, to rejoice a special occasion. The deliciously cooked “Mutton Do Pyaza,” is garnished with coriander leaves and fried onion flakes and is served with flatbread or steamed rice.
Nalli Nihari is a deliciously creamy stew of slow-cooked mutton with a variety of aromatic spices. This recipe takes 4-hours of slow-cooking on very low heat to get the best flavour. Although back in the royal days, Nihari was traditionally cooked all night. It was then served to the Mughal Kings in breakfast, the next morning, after prayers. A few households and restaurants in Bhopal, still practice the traditional style of cooking. Nihari, is essentially foreleg meat, along with the bone marrow. This dish is infused with aromatic Nihari masala, a blend of roasted and grounded cloves, fennel, cardamom, nutmeg, dry ginger etc.
Bhopali Murgh Rezala:
Bhopali Murgh Rezala typifies Bhopal’s legacy of Nawabi cuisine. This rich and creamy gravy is composed of coriander, spinach, curd and cashew nuts with a mélange of exotic spices. As the title hints, this dish is indigenous to MP as, it was cooked, for the Bhopali Nawabs. What makes the Rezala so sumptuous is the vast amounts of cashew nuts and curd added to the curry. Subsequent cooking, Bhopali Murgh Rezala is garnished with fried green chillies, suitable seasonings and boiled eggs.
Bhopali Bhuna Keema:
Bhopali Bhuna Keema is a gentle preparation of coarsely minced mutton, slow-roasted with chopped onions, tomatoes and whole red chillies in extra oil. The Bhopali Bhuna Keema is sheer indulgence and is best enjoyed with Indian flatbreads or buttered Pav (Pao).
Bhopali Mutton Biryani with Baingan Mirch Ka Salan:
Last but not least, you can’t leave Bhopal until you have tasted Bhopali Mutton Biryani with Baingan and/or Mirch Ka Salan. The authentic Bhopali mutton biryani comes in several layers – rice first layer, then mutton, followed by mint leaves and then the brown onions. The biryani is further garnished, with kewra water and saffron milk. Baingan or Mirch Ka Salan is a superb accompaniment of mutton biryani. It comes with a base that is composed of sesame seeds, peanuts, ginger, garlic, tamarind juice and dried coconut. Absolutely delightful!