Magic of Malwa

Mumbai-based Anuradha Medhora is on a mission to revive hyperlocal cuisine of royal families from the western Madhya Pradesh region

Published: 06th March 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2022 05:11 PM   |  A+A-

This Holi, a few lucky gourmets in Mumbai will get to taste the royal cuisine of Malwa. Anuradha Medhora, who runs a Mumbai-based cloud kitchen called Charoli, which seeks to revive and spread the love of royal Malwa cuisine, will be taking orders for delivery. The Malwa region is spread across the western part of Madhya Pradesh comprising districts such as Indore, Ratlam, Neemuch, Ujjain and others.

On the Holi menu are some rare delicacies laced with natural intoxicants—Mandsaur ka Maas made in poppy seeds, Beer Nihari where the mutton is marinated with beer, and meat cooked in mahua, a tropical fleshy fruit. This hyperlocal cuisine from the north of the Vindhyas is fading away as it has been limited to households like Medhora’s and perhaps a handful of her relatives. Her grandads had royal and aristocratic friends and hence took to non-vegetarian food. They started the documentation and she continued to pursue it.

Anuradha Medhora 

Medhora, who chronicled the rich Malwa culinary history and brought back dishes such as Nariyal Murg, Maas ka Kofta Narma Dil, Kheema Banjara, Bhindi ka Rajai Salan, Bharwan Paneer Mirch, tells us more. “Malwa royalty would often trek and when they got lost they would go to the nearest Adivasi settlement, tired and hungry. The Adivasis had ghee and chillis and slow-cooked the meat in an open pot over the fire,” she shares, describing what led to the creation of junglee maas, a masterpiece on her menu. She uses Nimari mirch—but any chilli can be used—and thus the flavour changes from region to region. The Rajasthani royals use mathania chillies to give the meat rare flavour and colour. 

Medhora says that Malwa is a protected region. There have been no invasions in the last 300 years since the Moghul dominion. So all that the royalty did with their time and money was socialise. They claimed oneupmanship with the way they hosted shikar parties and how good the food was. “They had separate chefs for rice items, shikar food or even food prepared for the Britishers. Palace kitchens were buzzing with activity and art as much money was allocated to them,” she adds.

When princesses from Rajasthan, Gujarat and even Britishers were married into the royal families, they got with them their culinary fragrances. “In our White Maharani’s Christmas feast, we revive this angle with dishes like Shepherd’s pie that are tweaked to Indian tastes,” she says. In 2017, when Medhora had just started out, she catered for a royal (Holkars) wedding in Indore. While Kaleji ka Raita, Maas Halva or a Chicken Laddoo throws many off at the first mention, once they have tasted it, they come for a second time.

What elements make food royal? “It is self-healing because the kings and queens had to be nourished. If gold or silver is used it’s because of their healing properties, usually high in proteins. It would be wrong to say we don’t have vegetarian dishes. We have Bharwa Tinda, Shalgham ke Kebab, Bhopla etc. It’s unfortunate that most people only gravitate towards paneer and bhindi when it comes to vegetarian food.” With Holi around the corner, all eyes are on the Malwa meal by Medhora.

Safed Murg Recipe

Ingredients
✥ Chicken leg: 1 kg 
✥ Cardamom: 4 
✥ Cloves: 8 
✥ Cinnamon: 2
✥ Dahi: 2 katoris
✥ Salt: to taste 
✥ Kaju: 3/4 katori 
✥ Ginger: 2 tea spoons 
✥ Garlic: 1 tea spoon 
✥ Mawa: 1 katori 
✥ Ghee: 1 katori 
✥ Fried onion paste: 1 katori 

Method
✥ In a kadhai take ghee
✥ Add all the whole masalas 
✥ After 2 minutes add the ginger and garlic paste 
✥ Add mawa to it and roast 
✥ Once the raw smell is gone add the green chillies, chicken, kaju paste, and fried onion paste 
✥ Close and cook on slow flame for 20-30 minutes
✥ Open the Dum and add lemon

UNIQUE MALWA FOOD
Maas Halwa: Cooked for fussy princes to get their daily dose of protein masked as a dessert
Palak Halwa: Made in the winter months with farm-fresh spinach and pure cow ghee
Shalgham ke Kebab: Turnips cooked as kebabs have an unusual crisp flavour that picks up any meal
Santre ka Maas: Cooked with the greenest of winter oranges from Nagpur, this mutton preparation is tangy and spicy Chicken Laddoo: Melt-in-your-mouth laddoos made from chicken and fresh mawa



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