Madhya Pradesh's Cuisine: A Glimpse Of Our Living Past

Located in the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh is one such state that have years old caves telling stories. While Khajuraho and Ujjain are associated with the faith of many, cities like Bhopal and Indore has given a new identity to this state with their royal history.  

The cuisine in Madhya Pradesh reflects its cultural and historical legacy. During the Mughal era and even after the Mughal era, Madhya Pradesh has been a centre of many big and small kingdoms. Regions like Indore, Gwalior, Rewa and Bhopal were like a state on their own and touch of these kingdoms is visible in the entire Madhya Pradesh.  

When we talk of the cuisine in Madhya Pradesh, it is essential that we talk about Indore, famous for its food not just in Central India but the whole country. The credit of developing this cuisine goes to the Holkar family. Holkar family not just influenced the cuisine but even the lifestyle of the people here. There were several dishes that were cooked exclusively in the kitchen of Holkar kingdom. From unusual pulaos to raitas to leafy vegetables or what we call as saag, these dishes have now become an inseparable part of the state’s cuisine. 

One such dish that one can only find in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore is ‘Bhutte Ka Kees’. You will not find this unusual corn dish anywhere else, believe me! As per some food experts, this dish originated in the Malwa region, and it made its way to Indore somewhere in the 19th century. Not only this delectable corn dish but Madhya Pradesh is known for serving ‘rasaal’ which is made up of rice and sugarcane juice. 

                         Image: Bhutte Ka Kees

And you know what? Indore is known for serving the best street food. Indore’s Sarafa Bazaar is a proof of what we are saying. While it remains a bullion market during the day, it turns into a massive food market in the evening. From Basundi to samosa, from sabudana khichdi to Garadu, you name a street food, and you will find it here. Yet another strong pillar of Madhya Pradesh’s cuisine is Dal Bafla. Made up of corn and wheat, this is served with black gram or pigeon pea lentils. This may look like dal baati churma but is very different. We can totally say that Madhya Pradesh has layers of flavours in its cuisine that have strong connection with the state’s history. 

After Indore, Bhopal is the next stop destination for foodies in Madhya Pradesh. The cuisine of Madhya Pradesh is majorly influenced by Bhopal’s royal Jahanuma family. From Yakhni pulao to shami kebab, Bhopal’s gastronomic journey has been long and inspiring. One dish that you may not find anywhere else other than Bhopal is ‘Bhopali Pasandey’. This is basically a dish originating from Mughal cuisine and is cooked with a boneless fillet. It may be cooked like a gravy in North India, it is made without any gravy in Bhopal.  

                         Image: Shami Kebab

Talking about Bundelkhandi cuisine, it is a cuisine which is not just influenced by the Mughal rulers but also the state’s climatic conditions. Influenced by the Mughals, the Rajputs and Tribals, it has several delectable dishes such as the murar ke kebabs, kodu til bhat and bhundeli ghost to leave you awestruck. While the Bundelkhandi and Bhopali cuisine has Mughal influence, the Mahakhoshal cuisine is said to be influenced by Rajasthani, Gujarati, Maharashtrian and a tribal style of cooking. 

This discussion would be incomplete without the rich Baghelkhand cuisine that has been ruling the hearts of people since many years. The hunting tradition in Baghelkhand gave birth to Bagheli chicken. This unusual chicken is a blend of spices cooked with desi ghee in marinated chicken. It's not just Bagheli chicken but Indrahaar dal that glorifies this cuisine. Made up of many daals, it is quite similar to Panchmel found in Gujarat and Rajasthan. 

                           Image: Bagheli Chicken/

Food of Madhya Pradesh is as famous as the temples of Khajuraho and Ujjain. We can totally say that the rich Madhya Pradesh cuisine reminds us that the living history of our past is found in food. Indeed.