13 May, 2021

Raja Bhojanalaya

Whether Bhopal’s nawabi fare, Indore’s ghee-saturated vegetarianism, or spartan tribal cuisine, a food trek through the heartland is gustatory bliss

Jitender Gupta
Raja Bhojanalaya

Could Dost Mohammad Khan, the 18th century Afghan adventurer who founded the princely city-state of Bhopal, have got as far as he did had he corroded his insides with desi-Chinese paya soup? It’s a “what if” question just waiting to be asked as we fascinatedly watch leather-jacketed young men queuing up in a Bhopal alley called Chatori Gali for this ostensibly muscle-building brew (“Soup ka pyala, faulad banane wala” ), which contains nothing less than paya (goat’s trotters), cornflour, soya sauce, vinegar, black pepper, black salt, chat masala and desi ghee!

However, Dost can rest easy in his grave. Notwithstanding the appeal of this eccentric soup, Bhopalis still adore their qormas, pasandas and especially their rizalas; their kababs and pulaos; their filfora, the dish of hand-hammered strips of meat born in a shikar-crazy ethos; their game fowl, including peacock (though try getting anyone to admit that, officially). What is more, even the ruling BJP, which would rather project...

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