“If you want to know the people of a region, taste their food”, that’s the perfect way to start exploring any region you visit. One of the thrilling experiences of the Gujarat tour is their cuisine. They have mastered the art of vegetarian cooking and their cuisine is delectable and mouth-watering. To start with, you must go for Gujarati Thali – which is a complete vegetarian meal.
Let’s jump into a delicious ride of Gujarati food:
A Gujarati thali typically comprises of one or two steamed or fried snacks called farsans, a green vegetable, a tuber or a gourd shaak (shaaks are main courses with vegetables and spices mixed into a curry or a spicy dry dish), a kathol (braised pulses like beans, chickpea or dry peas), one or more yogurt dishes like dahi, kadhi (yogurt and pulses soup), raita or sweet shrikhand, rice or khichdi, daal usually toor dal, and sweets like halwa, basundi or shrikhand. Accompaniments include sweet, sour & spicy chutneys, pickles, ghee and a salad of chopped vegetables served raw or may be steamed in spices.
Khaman: Similar to the dhokla, but not the same, khaman is made from only gram flour and is usually lighter in colour and softer than the dhokla. The secret is adding more baking soda to the batter to make it fluffier and spongier.
Handvo: This savoury baked cake is made with rice, lentils, and vegetables (often bottle gourd), carrots, and fenugreek leaves. It is spiced with fresh ginger and green chilies and tempered with mustard seeds, sesame seeds, and dried red chillies. It works well with a side of spicy pickle or green chutney.
Dabeli: Literally meaning ‘pressed’ in Gujarati, this Kutchi cousin of the Mumbaiya vada pav is made by mixing mashed boiled potatoes with special masala, and encasing the mixture in a ladi pav. The Kutchi Dabeli is garnished with pomegranate pearls and roasted peanuts, and served with a chutney made from tamarind, dates, garlic, and red chilies.
Fafda: The crisp, yellow snack is a festival favourite, especially during Dussehra. The batter, made of gram flour, carom seeds and oil, is rolled out into cylindrical shapes and deep-fried till crisp. Served with deep-fried chillies, papaya sambaro, and besan chutney, it’s a much-loved breakfast treat.
Khakra: This thin, papad-like snack is most commonly made from a mixture of wheat flour, mat bean, and oil. Flavours such as methi, jeera, pudina and ajwain are common, and new ones like dosa and chaat are gaining popularity. Not very well known is the mungdi, a sweet variant of the khakhra.
Thepla: This soft flatbread is part of the main meal, but is often consumed as breakfast or a snack with a hot beverage. Typically made with wheat flour, gram flour, fenugreek leaves, and other spices, the flatbread is liberally dotted with sesame seeds. Gujaratis enjoy their thepla with dahi, chhundo (sweet mango pickle), and red garlic chutney. A smattering of every flavour! Variants use dudhi (bottle gourd) and mooli (radish).
Fada ni Lapsi: Broken wheat, or dalia as we know it in India, gets a makeover in this healthy dessert that often works as a one-pot meal. The dalia is roasted in ghee and cooked in milk, and gently flavoured with cardamom, fennel seeds, and saffron. Garnishing with almond slivers and raisins takes the milky dessert to another level.
Lilo Chevdo: ‘Lilo’ means wet in Gujarati, and this Vadodara snack has a wet feel. Despite that, it’s crunchy. Grated potatoes are deep-fried and mixed with chana dal, and lemon juice for a lip-smacking snack.