The only thing that can compete with a Gujarati’s love for food is his love for travel. Ever been on a journey with a Gujarati? Chances are you’ve fond memories of the soft theplas, tangy dhoklas, and crisp khakhras.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about Gujarati cuisine, which is predominantly a vegetarian fare. For instance, not all Gujarati recipes have sugar/jaggery as their key ingredient. Gujarati foods, traditionally, offer a gamut of sweet, salty, sour and spicy gastronomic experiences.
Here’s looking at some of best epicurean delights from Gujarat:
Breakfast like a king
Breakfast is a grand affair in most Gujarati households. From the fluffy khamans (made of chickpea flour and tempered with mustard seeds, sesame seeds, curry leaves, coconut and coriander) and filling theplas (made of a combination of flours, spices and shredded vegetables) to the delectable dhoklas(made of fermented rice and split chickpeas) and lesser-known handvos (dhoklas with a savoury cake twist), variety is the name of the game.
If you are a fan of idlis, you should try the spicier, spongier Gujarati version of the dish. Khattadhokla, made of sour curd, with a dash of green chilli and ginger, is a popular item on the Gujarati breakfast menu. And it is the perfect way to bust the myth that all Gujju food is sweet!
The big thali
Polishing off a Gujarati thali is an experience that no words can do justice to. Suffice it to say, you’ll be spoilt for choice…and definitely overfed! Most novices make the cardinal mistake of binging on the appetisers – farsaan (snack items) such as pathra, papadigathiya, samosa, fafda, khandvi, served with chundasand a varied range of chutneys – only to regret not leaving enough space in the tummy for the wide-ranging main course and dessert.
The main course, usually, starts with the rotlis(made of wheat or bajra; softer and smaller than Punjabirotis), shaak(vegetables), dal, and puris. You can ask for as many refills as you please, before moving on to the rice preparations (plain rice, pulav, or khichadi) with some heavenly kadhi(gravy made of chickpea flour and yogurt) and generous dose of ghee. In the winters, undhiyu(mixed vegetables, stuffed with spices) is not to be missed! Remember to sip on the chaas(buttermilk) for better digestion.
No Gujarati thali can be complete without the mishhthan(dessert). Indulge your sweet tooth with some shrikhand (splendid transformation of curd), mohanthal (gram flour fudge with cinnamon flavour), doodhpak(goodness of milk, rice, saffron and dry fruits), basundi(Gujarat’s answer to North Indian rabdi), and many more Gujarati sweets!
Small is beautiful
A Gujarati household never runs out of the small eats. Even if you drop in unannounced, in all likelihood, you’ll be treated to sumptuous Gujarati snacks – say, spiced and seasoned khandvi (gram flour rolls), tangy and sweetdabelis(Kutch version of the Mumbai vadapav), mouth-watering sevusal(popular street food made of dry peas and garlic), deep-fried lilvakachoris(South Gujarat delicacy made of pigeon peas and flour), and Surat’s favourite street food Locho(steamed goodies, served with green chutney and sev), to name a few.
These Gujrati dishes are really windows to the vibrant and varied culture of a rich land that beckons the curious traveller.