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There's an old Indian adage, atithi devo bhava, a guest is as God. Over the centuries this has been drilled so deep into succeeding generations of Indians that hospitality is almost next to godliness here.
The Hospitality Of People Edit
The people of Madhya Pradesh are a very warm and hospitable lot. People invite you for lunch and dinner at the drop of a hat. In the villages, especially, the hospitality can be quite overwhelming. Appetizers, piping hot food, second helpings and desserts are offered to the visitor as if there's no tomorrow.
Refusing any course or helping is out of the question as it is taken as an insult to the host and his kitchen.
Delicacies Of Cuisine Edit
Indian meals are large, leisurely affairs with tables groaning under food and lots of heady (and heated!) conversation. Nobody believes in eating less of more here. If you like a dish you are expected to eat more of it; more often than not the hostess will serve you a generous second helping herself.
It is good manners to praise a dish; if you churlishly refuse to, your considerate host will take offense. Refusal to eat even a single course can lead to a crowd of people fussing all over you, pressing alternative dishes. At the end of a heavy meal if you burp don't be surprised to see an approving, indulgent smile playing on the hosts face. Burping is a sort of Indian equivalent of my compliments to the chef; I liked the food so much I've stuffed myself silly.
Diversity In Cuisine Edit
The cuisine in Madhya Pradesh varies from region to region. The north and west are mainly wheat-and-meat based, while the wetter south and east are rice and fish dominated.
Gwalior and Indore abound in milk and milk-based preparations. Bhopal produces exquisite meat and fish dishes, of which the spicy rogan josh, delicious korma, luscious keema, all-season favourite biryani pilaf and succulent kababs such as shami and seekh are almost legendary. But heavens dont even think of trying all of these together unless you want to get the stomach upset of the century. They are extremely rich, spicy and creamy dishes.
An interesting dish is the bafla (wheat cakes) dunked in rich ghee which are eaten with daal (a pungent lentil broth). The tongue-tingling sharpness of this combo is moderated by the sweet ladoos that follow it.
In summers the meals tend to end with fruit luscious mangoes (dusseharis which you must try and take home), juicy melons and watermelons, custard apples, bananas, papayas, guavas.
To drink, there is lassi (buttermilk), sugarcane juice, an excellent beer and a fine rum which is produced from the cane. For stronger (and more adventurous) heads there is the local liquor which is distilled from the flowers of the mahua tree called sulfi and date palm toddy.