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  Age on Sunday   02 Apr 2017  Delicacies from the heart of India

Delicacies from the heart of India

Published : Apr 2, 2017, 6:17 am IST
Updated : Apr 2, 2017, 6:53 am IST

When it comes to food, Madhya Pradesh has a plethora of options to offer its visitors.


Madhya Pradesh’s love for poha is widely known, but that’s not all the heart of India has to offer. Make a trip to the region and you will soon learn that it is a food haven for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, and the passion for food runs deep in the veins of its people. For instance, no visit to Indore can ever be complete without a visit to the very popular 56 dukaan and kachori wali gali, which is renowned for its delicious snacks. Similarly, the old city areas of Bhopal are very popular among food enthusiasts for lip-smacking kebabs, slow cooked mutton stews and biryanis. Located in the heart of India, the cuisine has also been influenced by multiple ingredients and preparations from across the country.

While Indore is known for papad ki sabzi, Gwalior is known for its numerous milk-based desserts, and the influence of nawabi culture in Bhopal has led to the genesis of dishes like keema parathas, which are also very popular with the locals here.  Recipes like mungauri (fried moong dal dumplings), rasaj (fried besan cake curries) and bhutte ki kees (grated corn savoury pudding) are an inseparable part of the home kitchens in the state’s hinterland.   Quite popular across the state and a leading influence on its neighbours are the quick and delightful — poha jalebi that is an all-time favourite and the signature dish of the state. Poha is a very easy-to-prepare dish made with rice flakes, onions, potatoes and a garnish of ratlami sev on top. It is best served with jalebi and a hot cup of ginger tea.

Popular Indian dishes like kebabs, biryani and mutton curry are also an integral part of the local food. The locals love their curries and prefer them over dry-preparations. Lamb is the most preferred meat to be used in authentic cooking. Curries are prepared mostly by first tempering oil with whole spices, ginger-garlic and then a base of caramelised onions, tomatoes and dry spices is prepared.  Nutmeg and mace flower are also frequently used in local cuisine. There’s immense creativity in every part of the state, which has led to the development of many local recipes, which stay true to the ingredients readily available in the state. Apart from being home to various monuments, forts, temples and lively bazaars, the heart of India has a delightful package to offer its visitors in form of a plate full of mouth-watering delicacies.

2 tbsp ghee
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
4-5 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 brown big cardamom
2-3 cloves
1 star anise
1tsp cumin seeds
2-3 green chilli, slit
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp red chilli powder
1tsp garam masala powder
2 small onions, chopped
200g green peas
100g carrot, chopped
1 potato, chopped
100g cauliflower
Salt to taste

Rinse the rice at least 2-3 times and soak for minimum 20 minutes
Heat ghee in a thick bottomed deep pan or pressure cooker and add cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, big cardamom, star anise and cloves, let them crackle.
Add ginger-garlic paste, sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add chopped onions, season it with a pinch of salt, mix well. Sauté till the onions are golden brown, add green chilli and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala powder, mix well.
Add the other vegetables. Sauté the vegetables for 4-5 minutes then 2 tbsp of water, put the lid on and again cook for 4-5 minutes, keep stirring in between.
Add the rice, toast it for two minutes and adjust the seasoning. Add four cups of water, cover it and let it cook on low flame for 15-20 minutes.
Serve hot with raita, papad, chutney and achaar.
Tip: I suggest make it in a wok or a pan that way the grains don’t stick to each other.

Dal Bafauri

For the dal:
1 cup arhar or toor dal
2-2½ cup water
1 onion, small, chopped
1 tomato, small, chopped
10 green chillies, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 big dry red chilli
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste.

For the dough:
2 cups of wheat flour
1 cup water
1 tbsp ghee
Salt to taste

Dal Bafauri

To prepare the dough: put the flour in a big bowl, add salt and ghee, mix everything together with your fingers.
Knead the dough, by adding little water at a time. After it’s a smooth ball, divide it into two parts. Roll each part into a ball.
With a rolling pin, roll out each ball in a round disc.
First cut the disc vertically with a gap of one inch in between. Then cut it horizontally, again with a gap of one inch in between. You would now have your dough in squares.
Put the dal in a pressure cooker, add dough squares, water, turmeric powder and salt. Pressure-cook it for 1-2 whistles. Let the pressure cooker cool down, before opening it.
Take a thick bottomed pan, heat oil, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds, let it crackle.
Add the garlic clove, ginger, green chilli, and dry red chilli, sauté for one minute.
Add the chopped onion, sauté till its pink. Then add the chopped tomatoes, sauté till tomatoes are soft.
Add red chilli powder, mix well, then add the cooked dal, simmer for two minutes.
Adjust the seasoning, to serve add a dollop of ghee and sprinkle chopped coriander on top.


For the dough:
3 cups wheat flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup water
For the filling:
2 cups chana dal
2-3 garlic cloves
1 inch piece ginger
3-4 green chillies,
1 tsp cumin powder
A pinch of asafoetida,
½ tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
For tempering the Peetha:
2 tsp mustard seeds
3-4, dry red chillies,
broken into pieces
2-3 chopped green chillies
1-2 tbsp refined oil


Put the flour and salt in a bowl and mix with fingers, and then add little water at a time while kneading to make the dough. Keep it aside.
To prepare the filling, soak the chana dal for minimum two hours.
Put chana dal and all the other ingredients for the filling in a mixer grinder and grind it, but not too fine, keep the mixture a little thick, adjust the seasoning.
For the peetha, make small balls out of the prepared dough, around the size of golf ball. Then roll it in round discs. Don’t roll the discs too thin, keep it around 1 cm thick, otherwise it may break while cooking.
Place the delicious filling at the centre, and close it giving it the shape of half moon. Make sure the edges are properly sealed.
Fill water in a big cauldron and bring it to boil, add a pinch of salt to it, then add the prepared peethas, don’t over crowd the water with too many peethas or it won’t cook properly, add maximum two at a time, depending on the size of cauldron.
Let it cook for 5-7 minutes, it will start floating on the surface as soon as it starts to cook.
Once cooked take it out on a chopping board. Cut each into 2-3 pieces. Prepare others also in the same manner.
Heat oil in a shallow pan or in a wok. Add mustard seeds, dry red chillies and green chillies. Let the mustard seeds splutter, then add the chopped peethas. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
Enjoy your hot peethas and coriander chutney.

Tags: food, recipes