Food is a major part of every culture and tradition and has been honored for being the driving force for people as a whole. Just like other parts of the country Gwalior has to offer many traditional cuisines that have evolved in centuries. These foods have now become accepted part of most of the events in Gwalior. As Gwalior witnessed several stages of Indian history the food also underwent changes.
The Gupta Dynasty Cuisines
Unlike today , the Gupta dynasty was noted to consumer both vegetables and meat products within the past. This was linked to the need to acquire higher calories during the days when most work was done manually . The diet mainly consisted of dairy products, grain, vegetables and meat which was cultivated and reared on local farms. Most of the food was domesticated during those early days with vegetables like the pumpkin playing and important role towards food security during the time. Another very important food during the time was root tuber foods like Arrow roots and cassava which can remain in the ground for long periods of time without spoiling. Food security was a major concern during the paste and most homes planted these security foods and placed old stocks with fresh supplies when harvested thus ensuring they would last even longer. During the Gupta dynasty the use of other food grain like wheat and rice was also common since the food could be stores for long periods of time and many of the dried grain could be preserved using ash from the fire thus deterring the pest from damaging the grain while in storage.
During the Gupta dynasty rule there were also major advances made in the processing of dairy products with many farmers learning to perfect milk processing to make cottage cheese, curb, and butter among other milk products. During the era the residents in the region where also noted to perfect the cultivation of several herbs and species which were used for cooking and food preservation and continue to be used till date such as cinnamon, cloves and mustard among several others.
Sindhian Influence to Gwalior Cuisines
With the Sindhiya ruling Gwalior for over more than two centuries their traditional cuisines have also infiltrated and been adopted in to traditional cuisine. The Sindhiyas have a wide variety of foods, due to the wide region they come from. For those who lived close to the Arabian Sea have adapted to consuming sea foods while those from interior regions prefer consuming grain, vegetables and milk products. This wide verity of food consumed in the region has led to a robust menu to select from the Sindhiya diet which different families choosing certain food types.Some famous Sindhiya foods that have been adapted by Gwalior residence include the following:
This is more of a snack than a meal made using a mixture of soak Sago and boiled potatoes blended together to create a patty. The patties are then deep fried to deliver a semi crunchy Vahda which is best served hot with hot and sweet source to accompany it. This dish originates form Maharashtra and was introduced in to the region by the Sindhiya when they captured the Gwalior fort.
This is another common snack found in Gwalior which does not original from the region. The vadha was also introduced by the Sindhiyas during the rule but was quickly adapted by local Gwalior residents who liked to potato stuffed vadha taste. Today these Vadhas are popular on Gwalior and come in several variants to suite each person taste. Gwalior is also famous for modifying different cultural foods to suite their taste thus resulting in a new type of cuisine distinct to Gwalior.
Gwalior is also famous for their creative and wide verity of pickles made using a wide verity of spices, raw fruit and vegetables. Today you can find variety of pickles in Gwalior that are exported across the nation. One major attractions linked to the majority of Gwalior made pickle is they are made using natural preservatives such as spices and oil thus are much more healthier to consume then many variants made at food processing plants today.
Karanji dumplings are true evidence of the influence the Sindhiya had on Gwalior since this dumpling is made up of a shredded coconut filling. Coconuts are not native to Gwalior and require to be imported to the city but are in high demand and sued to male several dishes that were first introduced by the Sindhiya who originated from Maharashtra coastal region.
Mughal Food Influence in Gwalior
Mughal food culture also had a major influence on the cuisine of the city . The Mughals were famous for non-vegetarian dishes since they mainly consumed meat products. This led to the expansion of animal husbandry in and around the city as well as more people began consuming the Mughal style foods. Some famous foods that where introduced by the Mughals include:
Meat Kababs and Kofta
This is a Mughalai dish which has tickled the taste buds of people from all walks of life and in many cities which come under Mughal rule like Gwalior the dish has been adapted in to the local cuisine. The dish is made up of marinated minced meat which is carefully molded in to rods which are then cooked in a coal oven before being served hot with bread to accompany them. Today the dish is consumed more as a snack then a main course by many people of Gwalior.
Biryani is another Mughal dish which has been widely accepted and consumed by people of Gwalior and has seen the dish being slowly modified to cater for each consumers taste. This has not only been observed with the spices and style of cooking but also with the ingredients used to make the Biryani. Traditionally it was made using meat but today it’s possible to find Veg biryani where by the meat has been substituted by a wide verity of vegetables.
The Mughals also come with their own sweets which have also found their way in to Gwalior cuisine. Of many different sweets the most popular if the Falooda and Anjeer Halwa. They continue to be made by a select number of confectionery store that specialize in the sweets but with popularity across the city the producers are today supplying the sweets to different sweet shops across Gwalior.
Modern Gwalior Food
As observed above Gwalior has experienced a phenomenon involving the adoption of cuisines from different cultures resulting in the availability of wide verity of food. This hasn’t been the end since in the past two decades there has also been a large influx of European foods being served in many city restaurants. Many of the locals has also gained a taste for Pizza, burgers, Chinese and several other foods originating from Europe and other parts of Asia. This clearly demonstrates they the people of Gwalior are always opened to adopting new food trends since food plays and important role in every society.
Places to find original Gwalior Cuisines
For a visitor this may sound scary but every food phonetic will tell you that a cities real taste of food is found at the local resident home. But since it’s not possible to go knocking at people doors asking for food you next best bet is locating the economical and most visited restaurants in the city. Keep in mind city residents will only want to eat the best food and at the cheapest prices. Big restaurants are often visited but research shown that small food stalls are the ones which produce the best food as they mainly target the local resident. To get to these stalls you need to acquire a knack of adventure since many are located in dingy gullies and are best approached by single person.
Food remains at the heart of every culture and the cultures which today have the best food as those which remains open towards adapting other cultural cuisine. Gwalior is perfect example of a city which has adapted to different cuisine brought by the leaders which has resulted in the city today offering a vibrant collection of food from different parts of the country and world as a whole.