Utopia for meat lovers and a foodie’s paradise, Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is also famously known as the City of Lakes. It is not only rich in its history and culture but the food offered here is a real delight.

The city is known for its modern metropolitan development, historic culture, exquisiteness and above all availability of a large variety of lip-smacking cuisine. The food speaks volumes of the ethnic culture that is vibrant here. Famous for its meat dishes – the curries and kebabs are the most acknowledged and preferred dishes here.

One of my favourite things about travel is all the different food I get to eat, which India has no dearth of. Whether it is a small town or a large city, each region has its own distinctive flavours and dishes to offer.

Over centuries, through migration, war and empires, Bhopali food has imbibed different styles of cooking and flavours, including those from neighbouring states and slowly concocted its own blend. In the heart of Bhopal is a different kind of Nawabi cuisine – a cuisine that seems comfortingly familiar and yet is distinct in taste with an amalgamation of flavours.

Bhopal fosters a cuisine where much of the culture, styles and elements blend in to give the visitors a rich and delicious array of gastronomic pleasures to relish. The Muslim dominance in this area sets the tone in most of its rich, traditional and elaborate delicacies like Biryani, Kebabs, Tikkas, Korma, Rogan Josh, Nalli Nihari and lots more.

The City of Lakes, as it is fondly called, has a very rich and vibrant history, and the ambience around exudes its historic culture along with a strong culinary vibe for foodies that are keen to explore the city in detail. A fantastic fusion of Muslim and Hindu culture, the food here can satisfy many cravings. The range is huge – from high-end, 5 star restaurants to the narrow, crowded lanes of the Chatori Gali. With the wide variety of experiences it offers, the food from this city in the heart of India, will fill not only your stomach, but your heart too.

A culinary journey in Bhopal is a must. Mecca for the non-vegetarians, the aromatic gravies, the tikkas and kebabs here are among the best in the country, I have to say.

This brings me to the most important and famous item of the local cuisine and is served with great fanfare at the very end of a meal. The Bhopali Paan or the betel leaf is a complete culinary delight. It not only tastes good but also has a part to play in your digestive system! Betel leaf or Paan, as it is known in India, is an integral part of Indian culture and society.

It is believed that the practice of chewing Paan originated in South-East Asian Islands. The preparation of the Betel leaf has acquired different forms and methods in India and besides the Banarasi Paan, it was the Bhopali Paan that conquered the heart of people.

The Paan, over time became very popular in the Indian Sub-Continent. Folks of Bhopal believe Paan making is a form of art, and hence, it has become a prominent part of their heritage and culture. Most locals have their favourite Paan shop and can be seen hanging out there at all hours of the day and night.

Personally, I have seen Paan haters turn into fans of the Bhopali Paan and that says a lot about the preparation here. Vegetarians do not fret… The Poha-Jalebi, Shahi Tukda, Chaat, Bafla and other such mouth-watering assortments beckon! A special mention here are the locals who exude warmth and that is what makes the city charming and appealing at all levels.