A blogger traveling to Chhattisgarh tweeted to me asking where he could find Chhattisgarhi food. A girl from Surat moved to Raipur after marriage and asked me where she could taste Chhattisgarhi food. A friend wanted to know about popular Chhattisgarhi food.
I had no answer to these questions.
Yes, Chhattisgarhi food is unheard of. It’s not on restaurant menus and is certainly not a street eat. Actually, it isn’t all that popular, available or glamorous, for that matter. But it has an unbeatable rustic charm that is untouched and doesn’t come easy to all.
The food native to the region is humble and most unassuming. It truly is the everyday food.
Rice, greens, kadhis and chutney are staple. Everything from starters to sweets are made of rice. A bowl of rice with rice starch, a dollop of curd, a dash of salt and slices of onions is the staple summer food. A handful of fresh coriander, a few green chillies, ripe tomatoes seasoned with salt, crushed with hands or ground on a stone plate – the staple chutney.
You might have had besan chilla, but in Chhattisgarh you’ll find rice flour chilla. Kadhi here is made from taro root leaves and that is one dish I can vouch for. Greens are abundant in the region. A few popular ones are kheda, bohar, kusum, chech and the list goes on. Even drumstick and radish leaves are put to use.
Farra is a popular snack here and dehrauri, khaja, anarsa and pidiya take the high seat in sweets division.
Chhattisgarhi food had never been put on the buffet counters of big hotel chains, but Courtyard Marriott Raipur recently showcased the cuisine of the state in its food festival.
Head Chef Udit Shrivastav told us they put together a menu of the most popular food items from the regional cuisine with the help of few locals. He was proud of his team for pulling off a great buffet featuring the obscure yet soul warming food of the state.
As a native of the state, I have had the good fortune of growing up with a palette accustomed to the regional food. It is in the recent time that more and more people are talking about the food here and the curiosity has been growing. A few local restaurants serving the cuisine have also come up.
It is only a matter of time and before Chhattisgarhi food makes it debut in mainstream food industry. But till then, this guide is good enough to get you started!
[Contributed by: Apurva Agrawal]