Ramadan 2024: 8 Special Dishes From Old Bhopal's Night Market
Image Credit: Freepik

Once ruled by Nawabs, the food culture of Bhopal was heavily influenced by the Nawabi cuisine. The food combines a taste of Mughlai cuisine with the traditions of India. Shehnaz Siddiqui, the famous Chef says, "that the Old Bhopal's night market food during Ramadan is highly affected by the Nawabi culture. The vendors have been lining up delicious and amazing dishes for a long time, enhancing the spirit of the festival." 

The bazaar overflows with tasty dishes like biryani, kebabs, fritters, and many more. For the sweet lovers, there are endless options, be it rabdi, kulfi, jalebis, and what not. For those who are looking for a proper meal, they can find chicken curries, bakarkhani, sheermal, and traditional sweets like sheer khurma, phirni, muzzaffar, kheer, etc. 

The night market delights with its food and nourishes both body and soul. The traditional cuisine of Bhopal is a combination of Muslim and Hindu culinary influences. It gives an insight into the taste of the city's royal and cultural past.  

Here are some of the dishes from the alleys of Old Bhopal’s night market, providing an insight into the cuisine of Bhopal.  

Namak Wali Chai  

Ramadan in Bhopal comes alive with namak wali chai. This salty tea is iconic here. Before the fast starts at sunrise, locals and tourists flock to bustling stalls for the creamy, comforting drink. Tea leaves, milk, ginger, cardamom, and signature salt make it irresistible. Beyond the rich taste, it's a cherished tradition. Tea brings people together, keeping culture alive.  

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Gosht Ke Pasande   

Gosht ke pasande, or Bhopali pasande, is a dish with thick, gray and tender chunks of meat that are marinated in yoghurt and spices. These were fried fritters of meat and then simmered in rich gravy, which is infused with saffron, nutmeg, and cardamom. The melt-in-the mouth texture of this dish makes it a favourite for everyone in Ramadan.   

Bun Kebab  

This tasty dish is the city's delicious take on the classic burger, without the lettuce and tomatoes. Inside a sweet, soft little bun is a juicy patty topped with a fried egg, cooling mint and yoghurt sauce. There's also a slice of onion for a nice crunch. It's easy to see why people in Bhopal love these meaty bundles of joy during Ramadan! Bun kebabs are a signature in Pakistan.  

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Nalli Nihari And Kulcha  

Nalli nihari and kulcha are Bhopal's favourite dishes during Ramadan. Nihari gets its name from the Urdu word "nahar," meaning dawn. It's the perfect morning meal to fill empty stomachs after a long night of fasting. The fall-off-the-bone mutton nalli and warming spices like cardamom, cloves, and chilli peppers make it deeply satisfying. Nihari is served with kulcha, a sweet flatbread coated in coconut or melon seeds. Kulcha, also called sheermal, has a soft texture that soaks up the rich stew.  

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Nukti Khare  

When Ramadan comes, the aroma of sizzling nukti-khare fills the old streets of Bhopal. Stalls pop up, selling steaming plates of it. It's a sweet and salty combo of crispy khare and tiny fried balls of sweet chickpea flour called bhoondi. Its mix of sweet bhoondi and salty khare is unique to Bhopal. In the rest of India, these foods are eaten separately. For people in Bhopal, nukti-khare represents the festive joy and community spirit of Ramadan. It's a beloved treat they share with family and friends during the holiday.  

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Paya Soup 

One of the traditional dishes of Bhopalis is the paya soup. Made from the trotters of goat, this dish is a power-packed meal and provides protein and comfort after a day-long fast. The technique of cooking this soup is what makes it special. The trotters are cooked for hours, slowly simmering in the spices. The result is a soothing and satisfying dish to break the fast at Iftar. 

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Chicken Patties  

The aroma of crispy fried chicken patties wafting through the streets is a signature scent of Bhopal during Ramadan. These juicy patties of spiced minced chicken, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs before frying, are a treasured iftar indulgence. The cutlets are often served alongside fluffy rice and warm, buttery naan, perfect for soaking up the spices. The crispy exterior gives way to tender, flavourful chicken inside. The recipe has been passed down for generations, with every family adding their own special twist. While the ingredients are simple, getting that perfect crunch and spice blend takes skill.  

Mohabbat Ka Sharbat  

When the scorching summer sun beats down on Bhopal during Ramadan, a new thirst-quenching drink saves the parched souls. Mohabbat ka sharbat is the staple craze imported from Old Delhi's winding lanes. This chilled mixture made from diluted milk, juicy watermelon chunks, and a generous splash of roohafza is just what devotees need to keep them hydrated during a long day of fasting. While mango juice may be a bestseller, mohabbat ka sharbat has won a devoted following in Bhopal.