The state of Madhya Pradesh is situated right in the beating heart of India, nestled neatly in the centre of the country. It is a region that has a glowing reputation for its hospitable nature towards visitors and proves a popular destination for tourists and travellers due to the variety of cultures that call this state home.
Madhya Pradesh shares its borders with several other states. As a result, its cuisine has absorbed a number of different influences, with the recipes and cooking techniques of these neighboring states helping to form a unique culinary tradition that make a trip to this region most definitely worth your while.
The culture of Madhya Pradesh is significantly different to other parts of India. It is the least developed state with a large population of tribal people and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The insular nature of this area means that the signature dishes of Madhya Pradesh have remained largely within the state and due to its vastness, there is a great deal of variety, with enough choice to appeal to the preferences of any Indian foodie.
The staple foods of Madhya Pradesh vary from region to region but as a general rule you can expect a reliance on wheat and meat in the northern and western territories, whereas the wetter climates of the south and east tend to use more rice in their recipes. Wheat has replaced jowar as the most important grain of the state, whilst corn and dairy is also used extensively.
Veggies will certainly not be disappointed with the range of offerings the ‘heart of India’ has to offer. A favourite, everyday dish is bhutte ki kees, made from a mixture of grated corn, ghee, milk and spices, whilst the cuisine of the Marathas is filled with fresh vegetables and pulses. Madhya Pradesh also offers a range of scrumptious sweets such as mawa bati, a crumbly treat made with dried fruits and spices. Another is kopra pak, a rich sweet influenced by the Gujarat region that combines coconut, cardamom and saffron into a decadent dessert.
Meat-eaters should make tracks to Bhopal, where there is an abundance of meat and fish dishes to sample. This food has a strong Muslim influence and is richly spiced and heavily flavoured. Expect a wide variety of curries featuring fish, mutton and chicken cooked in spices and ghee. Bhopal is also the home of rogan josh: a curry house favourite; but be sure to handle with caution, as the cuisine of Madhya Pradesh is well known for its hot spices. There are also many varieties of kebab and the creamiest curry of all, the korma.
There is one destination in particular that is a must for anyone with a taste for Indian food and that is Indore, known as the street food capital of the country. The assortment of stalls lining Sarafa Bazaar and Chhappan Dukaan are filled with enticing savoury and sweet offerings – make sure you visit with an empty stomach, because nobody walks away from this area hungry.
For an alternative and far more accessible destination, guaranteed to satisfy your hankering for Indian food, book a table at one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants and experience the tastes, smells and atmosphere of India just for one night.