Jul 2, 2012

Food Odyssey- Madhya Pradesh

Food is one of my favorite topics! To write about and photograph :) In this Food Odyssey series I will write about some mouth watering state-wise vegetarian cuisine and street food of India. In this post it will be the food from Madhya Pradesh. Every place I have visited had something new to offer, be it a chat item, meal, sweet or just some junk snack. Everything has its own zing. It was a journey ... Every state has its own way of cooking based on the weather conditions, availability of water and vegetables, use of oil or ghee, sweets, dairy and so on ...

When in Madhya Pradesh on earlier evenings I ordered room service for dinner. Then realized I was eating the same restaurant food I could get anywhere in India. Then I started to go to nearby bhojanalayas (restaurants that serve simple local food). Most of them or I could say all of them had prefix- Shuddha Shakhahari (pure vegetarian), now that was an added bonus for me.

When I was in Mandu, I asked my guide about the local speciality. It was Daal-bafla-laddoo ... Well, what is ... daal is extra spicy lentil soup ... laddoo is a sweet made of ghee, sugar and flour ... both are common in India. The interesting item is bafla ... It is made of whole grain wheat flour. The dough is kneaded well and shaped into apple-sized balls and then steamed. Then they are roasted a little by burying in hot ash to get the outer shell crispy. When done, ash is dusted away and bafla is dipped in ghee before serving hot with spicy daal. Doesn't that sound very exotic and yummy?! It does taste good too! When I go back to Madhya Pradesh I will definitely eat it again. For people with moderate appetite one bafla is more than enough, second one becomes too heavy on stomach.

There are numerous opportunies for chat. Hot samosa, daal vada, kachori and poha are available at all the times. Samosa was my life-saver when I traveled to places on off the beaten track. I am not a great fan of savory kachoris but they weren't bad. Here, people have poha, samosa or kachori and jalebis for breakfast. 

In Orchha, I had aloo-tikki-chat which had wonderful taste. The starchiness of aloo mixed with the sweet-sour chutneys was tasty and filling. The street side stall was on the way to guest house I was staying in, and I had aloo-tikki-chat every evening for three days. To tell you the truth, my mouth is watering even now when I write about it! :)

I must talk about, though I have done it twice earlier, the sweets from Ujjain! Or I must say, gulab jamuns from Ujjain :) Sight itself makes you love them! I had never seen sooooooooo many of them together! A kadai-full! You ask about taste? well, it is gulab jamun :) I had a pair of kala-jamun (black) and a pair of regular ones. The vendor asked me to take some home! Well, 4 jamuns in one go was too much for the day.

On the streets I saw a wonderful scene on how they make kulfi. I wanted to take a picture and the person was not happy about it. No worries, kesar-pista kulfi tasted wonderful!
The street was lined with mawa stalls and also other sweets made of milk, like white pedha. Interesting was the kadai-milk. Pure milk is boiled in a huge-wide-kadai and kept hot which tastes creamy and sweet. Too thick too craemy, I am okay with fat-free version!

One more interesting sweet is khoya Jalebi. Yes! Jalebi made of khoya. They are not so appealing at first sight but, after one taste you will prefer to have them over regular ones made of maida (all purpose flour). They are much brown in color and do not come in nice design and shape, but do come with wonderful taste.

Next, my dearest aloo-vada!! There is nothing like it, when you are in an unknown place on some off the beaten track in a tribal sort of area, you are hungry coming back from a temple ruin which you walked a KM to see and you find hot aloo-vada near bus stand for afternoon meal! It happened to me in Gyaraspur, aloo-vada for me was god-sent!

I sat and watched the process. The experienced hands knew exact  amount of stuffing, very gracefully flattened and placed in the batter. Then deep frying the vada to golden brown color, very evenly on all sides. When I asked the old man how much experience he has in making vadas, he smiled and said ... I don't have a number ... may be a million years!
In Khajuraho near eastern group of temples, there are few stalls which sell chai, aloo-paratha, samosa etc. I sat there chatting with the guy who was preparing a humongous aloo-paratha for me which he served with pickle on a newspaper! He even poured water on my hand so that I could wash properly after eating!

In Omkareshwar I thought of having a full meal in a Bhojanalaya. Very charming and hospitable young man greeted me. He informed me about the price and what to expect. 6-rotis, daal, sabji, and kadhi unlimited plus rice, all for Rs.40. Really?? So there I was. Next day, for lunch I ordered an aloo paratha with curd and pickle. In the picture he is making my paratha. Yummy!

There might be more for non-vegetarian options. The advantage of having street food over the restaurant food is- you are not alone at the table! Street-side you are on a bench and many curious people want to talk to you, they have so much respect for you for eating their food. It is true, you never go hungry by dropping your standards.

My memories of trip to Khajuraho wouldn't be the same if I hadn't had that paratha. The Bhojanalaya-young-man made my Omkareshwar trip better with his delicious paratha and respectful behavior, that old man who made aloo-vada in Gyaraspur saved me from fainting! The experiences and the conversations I had with these local unknown strangers was something I will cherish ...

What we always remember is not what we saw.

Leave a comment to share your beautiful thoughts :)

Click HERE to read more articles about Food Odyssey. To check complete Backpacking India series click HERE.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
Creative Commons License
Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Gosh Kusum, Monday morning and all that food! Sllrrupp :-)

    The bafla made of wheat and steamed and roasted looks healthy, and resembles the daal bhaati from Rajasthan a lot. And the khoya jalebis, they look weird but yum! All in all a perfect monday morning post. Lifted the spirits :-)

    1. Thanks you Jenny. Glad you feel great Monday morning! :)
      Yeah, similar to baati from Rajasthan but, much softer and bigger!

  2. A mouth watering post, and having indulged in the similar treats during my visit to some of the places you mentioned, brought back those memories! In India the variety of food is just awesome:)

    1. Thank you Mr.Bhatia. Yes, Indian food awesome!

  3. mouth watering photos...

    thanks for sharing

  4. So many yummy photos! I am already drooling over them Kusum. Not fair to tempt us with these photos :( I miss indian food so much!

    1. Thanks Vaish! Sure I will tempt you so that you visit India nd your family often! :)

  5. Mouth watering sweet meat. Photos look great.


I would appreciate to have your precious thoughts, suggestions and kind encouraging words in comments. Please do not include self-promotional links.I am encountering some problems because of these links and hence I may not publish them.