Hungry Bhopali

At about 7am, though even 8 or 9 will do, head to the Jama Masjid. On the east side of the masjid, just off Itwara Road, is Kalyan Singh’s Swad Bhandar (0755-2731495). You will find it easily because of the crowd of people eating his famous, fresh and hot Bhopali poha with Sev and Jalebis. This is a breakfast you will find all over the city, in both old and new quarters. Walk down to Itwara Chowk and get yourself a cup of authentic Bhopali Sulemani chai (Rs 2) from Jamal Bhai’s chai ki dukaan. Served from a huge samovar, this tea is uniquely sweet and salty, with generous amounts of cream. At the same place, you can try toast with pure thick cream. Better still slowly savour a regal breakfast of delicious mutton biryani from famous briyan shop next to the Jamal Bhai with Bakre ka paya. Very few other cities in world will offer you Biryani for breakfast!

By lunchtime, make your way to one of three restaurants in Bhopal that offer Bhopali food on their menus. Two of these are in Koh-e-Fiza. The first is at the Noor-us-Sabah Palace(4223333, 4239996). The open-air restaurant here offers beautiful views of Bada Talab and retains a few Nawabi specialties from the menus that once dominated its kitchens. Try Bhopali chicken korma (Rs 255), a rich and spicy chicken gravy and khada masala ka gosht (Rs 255), a dish of mutton cooked with whole spices that included star anise. The former royal khansama Ustad Saeed Khan, who used to cook for HH Hamidullah Khan and still cooks authentic Nawabi food to order (c/o Imran, 09893036807), proudly talks about how Bhopal uniquely prizes and uses star anise and about Bhopal’s rotis, which have to be so thin that “kauwa kaan par baandhen, uda le jaye aur pata na chale”. Saeed Khan regularly cooks murgh mussallum, biryani and murgh rezala among other Bhopali dishes at the Noor-us-Sabah and also cooks on occasion at the Jehanuma Palace (2661100). Lunch at the Shahnama Restaurant at Jehanuma Palace could include delicious Bhopali mutton korma (Rs 260) and murgh rezala (Rs 270) as per recipes handed down from the days of the nawabs. One of the most precious of these is the Bhopali filfora (Rs 275), a most unique dish made of turkey breast, marinated and slow cooked. They make a very good Bater (quail) mussallum (Rs 225) at the Jehanuma too. The other place in Koh-e-Fiza, Filfora is also the only place where you can find delicious shahi piece (Rs 15) readymade, without having to order in advance. The superb dessert of fried bread soaked in custard and flavored with cardamom is among the best. Also try the excellent phirni here (Rs 15). Their boti (Rs 55) and shami kebabs (Rs 45) are succulent and soft, and their kormas spicy. They serve excellent biryani (Rs 55) complete with traditional burani (Rs 30). The menu is replete with Nawabi dishes like khada masala ka gosht, roghan josh (Rs 70 each), kaccha kebab (Rs 40) and murgh rezala (Rs 70). The service tends to be bad and slow, please take it as part of Bhopali tradition

For evening snack in the tiny chowk adjacent to the Jama Masjid try barfi rasmalai dona at Surendra Jain’s stall. He places crushed ice in a pattal bowl, pours sweet and thick rabri over it, topped with syrup and finished with a sprinkling of rose water. Try Fariyali Khichdi, a khichdi of cooked sabudana with a peanut or two, curry leaves, kothmir and chillies, topped with thin wafers, a good sprinkling of sev and spicy batata chips. Now it is time for what Bhopal was waiting for all day. Make your way to Chatori Gali in Ibrahimpura, a short walk from the Jama Masjid, by 7pm so you can be there when the lid of the nahari pot is opened and swoon in ecstasy. The entrance to Chatori Gali is marked by crowds hanging around the Jhilli Miyan Ke Bade Ke Bun Kabab. He takes the tenderest bade ka kebab, made from meat that has been pounded hour upon painstaking hour, stuffs it into a tiny bun and serves it with chutney and onions (Rs 3). Once you’ve had it you’ll agree that the world henceforth is divided into those who’ve eaten bun kebab and those who haven’t. Then get to Hotel Gazala, a few steps ahead in Chatori Gali, announced by thick stacks of kulcha tandoori. Mohammad Sarwar’s (09893191733) will give you rotis and a thick and peppery stew full of soft meat that brings tears of gratitude. Look at the unspeaking crowds in the gali around you engrossed in enjoying this most perfect dinner.

Still Hungry? Food Check List
– Hotel Gazala (09893191733), Chatori Gali, Ibrahimpura after 7pm for the fabulous nalli nihari (Rs 20), bhuna korma (Rs 10), special stew (Rs 20), nargisi kofta (Rs 15), bater (quail, Rs 50 apiece) and aloo-sabzi-dal-anda.
– Hotel Jameel, Ibrahimpura after 7pm for kebabs and fried chicken
– Manohar Dairy and Restaurant (2740465) Hamidia Road for Chaat, Dosa, Sweets and other Paneer based items
– Taste of Hyderabad (2533431) Jishan Complex, Emami Gate fluctuates in quality makes excellent khumani ka meetha, phirni, biryani and Bhopali mutton korma on a good day.
– Haji Lassiwala, Itwara Chowk – falooda is the world’s best.
– Ibrahimpura – Varki samosa at only a couple of stalls after 4pm – it is a layered samosa stuffed with spicy mutton keema
– Arif Bhai Bhajiye – Shabban Chouraha!
– Shahjahanabad Ka Badam Milk – only in winters.
– Laxmi Talkise Ki Namak Wali Chai.

– The mutton chaamp (Rs 80), keema kaleji (Rs 70) and bhuna gosht (Rs 80) at Hakeem Hotel (5252181), New Market, TT Nagar
– The Vegetarian menu at Bapu ki Kutia at Roshanpura T. T. Nagar
– The famous Cycle Soup Walla of No. 10 market in Arera Colony (now Sagar Ratna): Veg cheese soup, Triple Decker Cheese Sandwich, Veg Biryani made with Soya Koftas.
– 6 no. Stop Hawkers corner – Samose, Kachori, Chat
– Milan Sweets, M.P. Nagar, Zone I – Samose, Kachori, Chat
– Brajwasi New Market – Pani Puri
– Chole Kulche at 10 No Market thela

(Please contribute your tips. Let us make this a complete food guide of Bhopal)

30 thoughts on “Hungry Bhopali”

  1. DASTARKHWAN at Kamla Park near Top n Town is a fantastic non-veg food joint in Bhopal that I have explored.Their Juicy chicken Tikka & Fish tikka, yummy Chicken Kali-Mirch, authentic Chicken Bhopali and Chicken Rice are fantabulous! All the Tawa items are mouth-watering. Their chef is also awarded by Vikas Khanna (Celeb Chef). Entire menu is very affordable. Chick Tikka for example cost just Rs.120. Restaurant has a very cosy dining area for family and friends. They cook authentic Bhopali non veg. . I am a foodie and Dastarkhwan is the place where I found the tastiest non veg food in Bhopal. Strongly recommended…

  2. DASTARKHWAN at Kamla Park near Top n Town is a fantastic non-veg food joint in Bhopal that I have explored.Their Juicy chicken Tikka & Fish tikka, yummy Chicken Kali-Mirch, authentic Chicken Bhopali and Chicken Rice are fantabulous! All the Tawa items are mouth-watering. Their chef is also awarded by Vikas Khanna (Celeb Chef). Entire menu is very affordable. Chick Tikka for example cost just Rs.120. Restaurant has a very cosy dining area for family and friends. They cook authentic Bhopali non veg. . I am a foodie and Dastarkhwan is the place where I found the tastiest non veg food in Bhopal. Strongly recommended…

  3. Taste of Hyderabad of Old city is extinct as on date. There is a new outlet "FRONTIER" opposite AXIS Bank in M. P. Nagar. The Chapli Kebab is a treat.

  4. afghan hotel is running on reputation, food not very good…there is no diffrence between new afghan fish curry and others….filfora is shit…delhi darbar is fine but it is new, that is why people going to it…the food is so so there, the customers will drop as time passes…anjum hotel is increasing price but it is also okay…people avoiding old bhopal, spashally chatori gali …because they want to eat in new bhopal, it is about class and fashion…i like ordering from old bhopal, can anyone tell me any gud place to eat in bhopal

  5. you've forgotten the best of them….New Madina Hotel in Chatori Gali, Ibrahimpura…Even Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif liked its food during the shooting of Rajneeti…think it was written before it had started…great fish curry, brilliant stew and amazing rotis. Also try butter chicken. Much cheaper than any of the other restaurants. Good crockery too.

  6. too bad the bhopalis are rushing too only mc donalds dese days..forgetting what they are missing..its nice to know so much about the city i live in…even though i cant enjoy much of the food for am a vegetarian..^_^

  7. Will wait for ur updated post dear… i wanna take with me a good foodie memory of Bhopal…..I was impressed by Food of Indore in Nafis and one at Sarvatah…I dont remember the name but very old shop…..both have good quality in some terms but nafees was excellent….just like the Kareem;s of delhi at jama masjid….

    Will be waiting for ur comments and post…

  8. CoolAriesGuy, Thanks for the comment. Yes the things have changed a lot. Filfora looks like ready to be closed any time now, may be replaced by some "Chawla Chicken".
    Chatori Gali has also changed.The names/owners are changing continuously,it is difficult to keep track of. Will have to revisit the place, was looking for an excuse (-:

  9. I read this article before visiting bhopal…i though it would be a treat in bhopal as i m a true nonveg lover…..After reading about filfora….i went there to my surprise i found tht all the good things mentioned here are from past. Most of the staff has changed and so has cooks. I have tried 60% of the things on menu and was not satisfied with most of it…..

    Shami Kababas are good and so is biryani… was all dumbshit….Shahi tukda and phirni was also good….After enquiring about it from few shops i found tht over the time this place has changed very much and becoz of tht it remains empty on weekends also……Taste is something which maintaina a restaurant….once u loose tht all the customers are gone…

    Also the place mentioned in the article about Jhiili mian…..i found the shop…pics present on other webpages with same article…..bun kababs were tasty….so was biryani….but i coudnt find the jhilli miyan shop…they say the shop is of salim mian….its just at the starting of the chatori gali right side…….I would like the originator of the article to guide me on the same….

    Alos about gazala reaturant….there are two ….which one are we talking oabout here in the article…..I think Cghatori gali has changed over the time… al the things mentioned here are good and i have enjoyed them…..specially the palace meal….it was lovelly….

    will be waiting for ur replies…

  10. To savour authentic Bhopal cuisine, I guess, one has no choice but to elicit an invitation to a Bhopali household, as most of the places – Noor-us-Sabah and Jehanuma included – offer a bastardised spread peddled as ‘authentic Bhopali.’

    The work is only as authentic as its creator and despite all the hullabaloo in the English media a true Bhopali is, unfortunately, a fast diminishing breed in the state capital.

    Nostalgic of the Residency, now come on! I don’t think any Bhopali would be caught dead saying anything about half a weird as that.

    Mughlai food – the Nepali variety – served by Filfora is definitely not what a gourmand could be caught terming as Bhopali food.

    The flavours of Chatori gali, perhaps, have as much to do with Bhopal as Manchurian has to do with Nepal. Moreover, most of the cooks and restaurant owners in the area belong to UP.

    I think “Hungry Bhopal” is an ideal name for the post as it talks about what the fire in the belly makes an average Bhopali put up with in the name of food.

    PS:The Afghan Hotel in the Peer Darwaza area of the city was a heartless exclusion.

  11. hi , i feel nostalgic reading all this coz i ve savoured evrything mentioned in d blog,from noor-us-sabah ,jehan numa ,THE RESIDENCY(WHICH BY THE WAY SEEMS TO B OVERLOOKED) to chatori gali-bun kababs, ghazala hotel..morning breakfast of poha -jalebi ,falooda…….
    here in dubai which seems to cater to the taste of d whole world but WO MAHOL KAHA SE LAOGE…
    i really miss d baked corn(bhuna bhutta)during d rainy seasons at zoo road………


  12. hi having migrated to bhopal for the last 2 yrs from bangalore , loved the affordable good quality food . the report is good one. One more new rstaurant has opened called zaiqa at Noor us sabah , dedicated to mughlai cuisine including bhopali , try its buffet lunch @ Rs 375 / head , good value for money and great selection and taste.

  13. Chin Chin @ 11 No. Mkt. serves O.K. Chinese cuisine but their Chilli Mutton is just out of this world. They have been taken over by RICE Bowl(Mansarover) but till last week the taste of the Chilli Mutton was the same.It was the invent of the demised previous owner Mukherjee

  14. Chicken on Wheels serves great fried chicken gas fried @ 140 for full & 70 for half. Located at 6 No. Market.

  15. Hey! I know this completely defies the point of bhopali food, but the new pizza hut that opened there is AWESOMEE!!!! 100x better than the one here in Dubai. Way to go Bhopal!!!

  16. Extensive research while writing this article….
    its great that you brought up finner nuances of the eateries of bhopal…
    people should know that apart from lake and cheap vagabonds bhopal has lot more to offer….
    Keep it up

  17. Revisiting he page I think your Title the blog is misguiding. Hunger in Bhopal can be seen widespread what with the aftermath of the GAS TRAGEDY which left myriads of orphans and vagabonds. But that’s another part of the story.

    GASTRONOMIC BHOPALI would have been more appropriate as it is the taste of good food that leads Bhopalis to the joints listed out in the blog.

  18. Sorry for my omission. You’ve actually mentioned FilFora but in line text , but I apologize.
    Yes their service is laggard, but the cuisine is 9+ in a scale of 10.

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