Image courtesy: Soniya Goyal.
Many of us associate Gujarat only with dhokla, khakhra, or the drool-worthy Gujarati Thali. There is more to Gujarati food than that. North Gujarat, Kutch, Kathiawar, and Surat are the four major regions of Gujarat and each of these has added their own uniqueness to the Gujarati cuisine. Let us explore some of those Gujarati dishes here:
A tasty and healthy steamed snack made from freshly ground lentils and chickpea flour. It is very similar to its humble cousin, the world-famous ‘dhokla.’ To prepare the khaman, the khaman flour mix is boiled along with turmeric, salt, and baking soda to make it light and fluffy. It is then cut up into cubes and usually garnished with mustard seeds, coriander leaves, sev, and chopped onions.
- Traditionally served on a large green leaf called the Kesuda, the modern, urban version is served in newspapers in farsan (snack) shops with tangy chutneys and several pieces of green chillies. Popular adaptations of the khaman include Ameri khaman (mashed up khaman garnished with sev and pomegranate), Nylon khaman (softer and fast-cooking khaman) and Masala khaman (khaman served with hot and spicy chilly powder)
No Gujarati picnics, foreign trips, or even business trips are complete without this ubiquitous snack. Made from gram flour, whole wheat flour, fresh fenugreek leaves, and spices, these flatbreads are healthy snacking options with a long shelf life. Usually served piping hot with fresh curd, pickles or chunda, they make a wholesome meal.
- When accompanied by a cup of steaming hot tea, they also make a sumptuous breakfast or a great snack during the monsoon. Although the methi (fenugreek) ones are the most common, other varieties include palak (spinach), amaranth or muli (raddish) theplas-specially recommended for fussy eaters.
Thin layers of gram flour cooked with buttermilk and rolled up in mushy goodness, seasoned with sauteed sesame seeds and a few other spices, that’s khandvi for you. The simple but aromatic garnishing of curry leaves, coriander, sauteed cumin, mustard, and coconut makes it simply irresistible. Also called ‘suralichya vadya’ in Maharashtra, it is a popular snack among Gujaratis and Maharashtrians alike.
- Although loved by all, no one can deny that this dish is a little tricky to cook, especially getting the consistency of the batter right. Light on the stomach and pleasing on the tongue, khandvi can be a perfect breakfast item or a delectable evening snack.
The king of Gujarati dishes Undhiyu (and of course Uttarayan khichdo) is the reason why a Gujarati eagerly awaits for winter. It derives its name from the Gujarati word ‘Undhu’, meaning upside down. It is a classical Gujarati dish made in an inverted clay pot. It is a special winter delicacy made from the choicest of fresh produce readily available in winter.
- Common ingredients include eggplant, crunchy muthiyas (fried chickpea flour dumplings), potatoes, yam, green peas, bananas and beans, slow-cooked to perfection with buttermilk, coconut and spices. Undhiyu served with puris and shrikhand is a common occurrence during Gujarati weddings.
5. Dudhi Muthia:
Named after the action that is used to shape the dough, these fist-cakes make for a great breakfast or evening snack. To prepare these, a mixture of chickpea flour, bottle gourd, and spices is prepared, steamed, pan-fried and seasoned. If you skip the pan-frying, it becomes a great meal for the health-conscious.
- Other varieties include usage of spinach, fenugreek, amaranth or even bitter gourd. Juicy and fluffy on the inside, golden and crispy on the outside, no one can ever say no to a bowlful of muta hiya. Best relished with a dash of mint-coriander chutney or ketchup, and a cup of steaming hot tea..
Traditionally prepared over charcoal or in a pressure cooker, handvo is essentially a savory cake. To prepare handvo, a batter of lentils and rice is prepared and fermented overnight, and then baked. They are sometimes pan-fried to make them crispy and golden, and the sesame seed seasoning makes them just irresistible!
- These nutritious pan-fried or baked lentil cakes are a very popular one-dish meal in Gujarati households. Like most other Gujarati snacks, they are best enjoyed with tangy green chutney and a hot cuppa.
7. Fafda Jalebi:
Made hugely popular by the daily soap ’Taarak Mehta ka Ulta Chashma’, this is (almost) every Gujarati’s dream breakfast. Fafda is a crunchy, fried chickpea flour snack, jalebi is a sweet, deep-fried pretzel made of wheat flour and dipped in sugar syrup. Together, they are a match made in heaven. When you take a piece of the crunchy, salty, spicy Fafda and eat it with a piece of crunchy, sweet jalebi, you are sure to be in the paradise.
- Have a fried chilly or a whip of the dry papaya chutney with this combination, and your taste buds will burst away to glory. Almost every street corner in Gujarat, esp. Ahmedabad has a shop selling these. On Sundays, there are huge queues outside farsan shops, for an indulgent breakfast of this heavenly duo.
8. Lilva Kachori:
A great winter and monsoon tea-time snack, kachoris are balls made of flour and stuffed with any filling of your choice. They are a popular delicacy in the western and northern parts of India. Lilva Kachori is the Gujarati specialty made with a filling of pigeon peas. To prepare these the kachori dough is prepared from white flour and semolina, rolled out and filled with the Lilva mixture (pigeon peas, green chilies, coriander, and spices), rolled into balls and then fried off.
- Best served with tangy chutney or sauce, this is a crunchy, tasty snack that can make the cold evenings warmer and more enjoyable.
9. Sev Tameta Nu Shaak:
A sweet, salty, tangy, spicy shaak (vegetable preparation) made from tomatoes and sev and is a favorite in Gujarati households, especially among children. To prepare this dish, diced tomatoes and onions are sauteed in oil and spices and then cooked in steam.
- Crispy sev is added as a garnish at the time of serving along with freshly cut coriander. Easy to make and delicious to eat. It ticks all the boxes-color, texture, crunch, flavor etc. Relish it with parathas, theplas or the humble phulkas for a hearty meal.
10. Gujarati Kadhi:
No Gujarati thali is ever complete without the kadhi. Distinctively recognized because of its white color, this is a traditional dish made of sour curd, spiced with thickened gram flour and sweetened with jaggery or sugar. This sweet and spicy, thin soup enhances the taste of koftas or pakoras.
- It makes for an excellent summer dish because of its cooling nature, and is best relished with soft phulkas or steaming hot basmati rice. Hearty to eat and simple to cook, it is a staple in all Gujarati households.
These special dishes really make Gujarat a place worth visiting for its perfect taste and variation. This is the best option that you can have to get a taste of traditional food in Gujarat.
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