On a road trip from Jabalpur, through Pench, Kanha, and Bandhavgarh, we savoured some unusual local surprises.

Badkul

Abhinav Kakkar
Khoya jalebi from Badkul Sweets, a shop near Kamania gate in Jabalpur
Khoya jalebi from Badkul Sweets, a shop near Kamania gate in Jabalpur

Imagine the texture of a gulab jamun in the typical spiral form of the jalebi and you have the badkul. The khoya-and-arrowroot batter jalebi is Jabalpur’s specialty, dating back to 1889 when Harprasad Badkul invented the dark, spongy sweet.

Where: Badkul Sweets, Sarafa Bazaar, Kamania Gate, Jabalpur

Abhinav Kakkar
Drying Mahua flowers
Drying Mahua flowers

Bhutte ka kees

This local snack, commonly known as bhutte ka kees or makai ka kees, features the familiar flavours of corn, grated coconut, and the pop of mustard seeds, but in a completely new form. Pulverised almost to a paste, and cooked with milk, the sunshine-yellow dish retains a few corn kernels for texture along with curry leaves, onions, tomatoes, and a spritz of lime for a burst of flavour.

Where: Pench Tree Lodge, near Karmajhiri Gate of Pench National Park, Sarrahiri village

 

Abhinav Kakkar
Bhutte ka Kees at Pench Tree Lodge
Bhutte ka Kees at Pench Tree Lodge

Lal Bhaaji

A locally grown red spinach, lal bhaaji is bought fresh from the weekly village haat, and cooked with minimal spice to bring out the leaves’ sharp, mildly bitter flavour. Lal bhaji goes best with hot rotis, dal, and fried potatoes.

Where: Shergarh, near Mukki gate of Kanha National Park, Baihar-Mukki Road, Kanha

Mahua Laddoo

This is made when the ubiquitous mahua tree flowers in February. The blooms are dried, roasted, mixed with sesame seeds, bound with jaggery, and shaped into energy-packed balls. Farmers carry them for nourishment during long days in the fields.

Where: Ask locals for a taste in Bijaria village, Bandhavgarh

Visit MP Tourism