The diverse population and their contribution to the city’s culinary culture make Bhopal a food lover’s heaven and home to many iconic dishes. From kebabs and chaats to lassi, sweets, and samosas tailor-made for the Jain community — Bhopal serves everything with unequivocal passion and flair. And though Indore stands tall on nationwide culinary rankings, Bhopal is no less, and you’ll agree when you taste these offerings. By Kumar Shree

Paya Soup at Chatori Gali

 

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Just how Delhi gathers the best of its culinary offerings in Chandni Chowk and Mumbai exhibits its gastronomic flair at Mohammed Ali Road, Bhopal houses it all in Chatori Gali. A foodie’s trip to the city is incomplete without visiting this street that is a mecca for food lovers. You can get your hands on most of the iconic dishes of Bhopal here. However, the truly unmissable dish is paya soup. It is a dish of mildly-spiced lamb trotters slow-boiled in a broth for the entire day. Unlike the runny paya served in most parts of the country, this one is thick and dense. Served with a garnishing of lamb shreds, spices, and chopped coriander, you cannot afford to miss this speciality.

Kebabs Galore

 

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Fans of kebabs will not be disappointed, as Bhopal packs a generous variety of them. While you are still at the Chatori Gali, make sure to grab a serving of Bade ke Kebab at Jhili Miyaan. Located at one end of Chatori Gali, this shop serves kebabs so good, the taste stays with you for a long time. The kebabs here are served with hot buns and chutney, hence they are also called Bhopali bun kebab. Another great kebab stop in the city is Jameel in Ibrahimpura, which serves chicken and mutton kebabs along with a whole lot of mouthwatering dishes at pocket-friendly prices.

Pro Tip: Do not compare the kebabs in Bhopal with those you’ve had in Lucknow or anywhere else in the name of Lakhnawi kebab. Bhopali kebabs are not finely minced and prefer to be lighter on spices and flavours.

Vegetarian Fare

 

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As Bhopal is an amalgamation of vegetarian and Jain population, vegetarian dishes are also found in plenty. One store worth mentioning is Cycle Soupwala. If you dig stories as much as you dig food, you’ll fall in love with Cycle Soupwala. The owner started with selling soups on a cycle many years ago and today he owns multiple eateries in Bhopal. His stores sell everything vegetarian, all of which are top-notch. Another such eatery is Sagar Gaire Snacks that serve local vegetarian food and everything from chowmein to samosas. Talking of samosas, this list will be incomplete without the mention of the iconic Jain samosa in Bhopal. Since Jains do not consume tubers, potatoes are a strict no-no for them. Hence, this dish is made of raw banana. The spicy mix is so heavenly, you cannot stop at just one.

Tea, anyone?

 

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Bhopal loves its chai and is known to experiment with the beverage. You’ll know what this means on the very first sip of Suleimani Chai at Jamal Tea Shop at Itwari Chowk in Old Bhopal. The sweet and salty tea served from a highly-decorated tea urn called samovar comes with a dollop of cream that will leave you wanting for more. Fareed Bhai Tea Stall on Sultania Road serves another variant of tea called Nawabi Chai. A huddling group of chai-lovers will help you spot the shop.

For Your Sweet Tooth

 

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After feasting on a wholesome spread, top it off with a sweet offering. If you have time for only one dessert, go for the Shahi Tukda, a simple dessert made of fried bread slices dipped in a custard of rabri and topped with dry fruits. Have your share of this iconic dish at the many shops in Kohefiza. Barfi Rasmalai at Surendra Jain’s and Lassi at Haji Lassiwala are other dessert choices. End your food trail with a serving of Bhopali paan.

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