Through a region infamous for dacoits flows a 960 km-long river by the same name around which stories of fear and tasty kachoris have been woven.
Chambal river, originating from Manpur town of Madhya Pradesh near Indore, flows northward into Rajasthan’s Kota before turning northeast forming the border of the two states, and finally merges with the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh.
While people in Kota claim that the river water is the reason behind the tasty ‘Kota Kachoris’, an Indian fried snack made of flour, pulses and spices, their neighbours in MP have an aversion to the river as they feel it breeds aggressive behaviour.
Due to the dreaded dacoits of Chambal region, folks of Morena, Sheopur and Bhind, along Rajasthan-MP border, believe that one should not consume Chambal’s water.
‘One shouldn’t consume Chambal water as it would make him aggressive’
“There is an old belief prevailing in this region that one should not consume the water of the Chambal as it would make him aggressive and drive him towards crime or dacoity,” Dhiman Singh, a resident of Bijoura village in Bhind district, said, adding that only the poor consume it as they don’t have access to bore-wells.
Shaym Sharan, another Bhind resident, noted that the river has a mythological significance too.
“According to a Hindu lore, Sharavan Kumar, who carried both his parents on a basket for pilgrimage, left his parents for a short while after drinking Chambal water. For some time, he started thinking that he was doing a foolish thing by carrying his aged parents on his shoulders, only to repent later after which he again carried them and continued on his pilgrimage,” Sharan said.
In Kota people consider Chambal water a major ingredient for kachoris
These beliefs vanish in Kota where people consider it a major ingredient for kachoris.
Sunil Jain (38), co-owner of Porwal Namkeen and Sweets, one of the famous restaurants popular for its Kota Kachoris said Chambal’s water helps in digesting any kind of food.
He recalled that his grandfather, who started the restaurant in the 1960s, had used the river water to make kachoris and the practice has continued.
“On a few occasions, we used other water which resulted in the depletion in the kachoris’ taste, after which we went back to the Chambal and realised that it is an irreplaceable ingredient of kachoris,” he said.
‘Chambal’s water is very light and sweet’
Bhuvnesh Jain (38), owner of another famous restaurant Suvalalji Ki Kachori, says Chambal’s water is very light and sweet.
“One of the main reasons behind considering the water of Chambal as one of the main ingredients behind the taste is it makes the kachoris really crispy. There are some minerals in it which does this,” he claimed, adding that their kachoris can be had even 15 days after preparation, and are taken and sold in the USA.
“They take them frozen and sell them there by heating in a microwave,” he said.
(with inputs from Baljeet Karu and Shubhash Jain)