Gujarat on our platter – A glimpse of the yummy food we savored on our recent trip to Gujarat
There is something about Gujarati food that endears that cuisine to us. Whenever we are out of dining options, we just go and get a Gujarati thali in Delhi. Gujarat Bhawan canteen in Delhi has never disappointed us. But how would Gujarati food taste in Gujarat and what is it that Gujarat eats?
To explore this question, we made the most of our recent Gujarat trip. We traveled extensively from Ahmedabad to Rann of Kutch as a part of #AllIndiaInfluencersMeet2021 at the invitation of the Gujarat Tourism board and Incredible India. Wherever possible, we tried Gujarati dishes; the familiar as well as unknown ones. Finally, we have a list of the best Gujarati dishes that are absolute must-tries during a trip to Gujarat.
Gujarati cuisine versus North Indian cuisine
From our experience living in Delhi, we believe that the Delhi palate is now called “North Indian cuisine”. This is a mixture of Punjabi, Rajasthani as well as Uttar Pradesh dishes, especially from the Benaras region. Gujarati food, we realise uses many common vegetables, pulses, and spices. Hence there is a clear sense of familiarity that we feel while consuming Gujarati food.
Yet, there are differences that behoove a little exploration.
The most obvious difference comes from taste. Be it anything we ate including Jain food in Ahmedabad, we found Gujarati food tasting a little sweet. The basic taste in Gujarati cooked food is an admixture of salt, sweet, sour, and spicy.
The second difference is North-Indian food is mostly fried or cooked. In contrast, steaming is a popular method of food preparation in Gujarat. Dhokla, khaman, and raw papaya salad Gujarati style are all dishes that are steamed at various degrees.
The last difference we notice is snacks. Farsan or snacks are part of all meals here. Be it breakfast in Ahmedabad, lunch in Vadodara, or dinner at Rann of Kutch, fried, steamed or freshly made farsan is part of every meal. The farsan items that we tried are dhokla, khandvi, fafra, gathia, sev, khaman, veg cutlets, patras, and chevdo.
And we loved each and every one of these.
What is famous food in Gujarat?
We had started from Ahmedabad and when we reached Rann Utsav, Rann of Kutch, we had added a few kg weight. But in that process, we identified some of the best things to eat in Gujarat. Here is a list that should come in handy.
Fafda and Gujarati Kadhi – Gujarati Breakfast
Fafda is a gram flour crispy that is very popular in Gujarat. Kadhi is a gram flour and yogurt sauce that is tangy, sweet, and spicy at the same time. It was our first time trying Fafda with Kadhi. We have always had it with pickled green chillis before. The new combination tasted yummy.
Khaman Dhokla – Widely Avaialable Gujarati Food
You can never have enough of Khaman Dhokla in Gujarat. We went to Oshwal shop at Ashram Road to get some savories packed. We ended up having a round of fresh Khaman with Kadhi. The khaman was super fresh, moist, and melt in the mouth. We are used to having it with chutney or chillis in Delhi. We tried it with Kadhi here and that was a lovely combo as well.
Jalebi – rules the roost in Gujarat
From breakfast to dinner, from Ahmedabad to Kutch, Jalebi has been our de facto sweet on almost every day of the trip. Probably the most loved Indian sweet in Gujarat, you get great Jalebi in Gujarat wherever you go. There are thin and crispy as well as thick, loaded with sugar syrup variety too. They say calories don’t count on vacation so who’s complaining…
Trivia – Narayani Heights is a Guinness Book record holder for creating the largest jalebi of the world. Sweet isn’t it!
Bhakarwadi – Yummy Gujarati Snacks
The cutest welcome snacks of Bhakarwadi and Fulwadi in small glass jars with handwritten welcome notes in our rooms at Hyatt Regency made us go Awwww… We couldn’t finish the snacks during our stay and shamelessly packed the remaining in our bags. Bhakarwadi is a little unusual snack with sweet and salty flavor interspersed with spices, which is unlike any other munches we have had in India. These are dry and somewhat hard and last for many days.
Manek Chowk – Night Food Hub in Ahmedabad
A discovery of sorts, Manek Chowk the late-night food market in Ahmedabad is a foodies’ delight. Thanks, Sachin, Ajay, and Nishar for recommending.
Manek Chowk is perhaps the most interesting place in Ahmedabad Old City. In the day, it is busy clothes, market. Post 9 at night, when the shops close, it becomes the street food market of Ahmedabad. Long tables and chairs are set up on the streets and the area becomes a hub for food pop-ups. It’s a happy spot with people from everywhere, youngsters; families, children, and senior citizens come, try multiple dishes, and make way for the next diner waiting patiently. Among the countless dishes, the following are must-haves.
Things to eat at Manek Chowk Ahmedabad
Fresh Jamun Pulp Shots
The Jamun shot was freshly made in a blender and it was yummy. No sugar added. The salt rimming on the cup (just like a bloody mary) surely elevated the taste. There are quite a few carts selling this item at the entry of the market. One shot was just Rs. 40/-
Jain Ghughra Sandwich
Freshly made sandwiches sans onion-garlic but loaded with shredded cheese and butter, stuffed with green chutney and cucumbers these were sure heavenly. The sandwiches were grilled on the flame in old-style aluminum sandwich makers and reminded us of our tiffin in school.
Mukhwas and Chooran
We happened to be at Manek Chowk in the day as well as part of the Ahmedabad Heritage Walk. We came across many open stalls selling more than 100 (or was it 300…not sure) varieties of churans, mouth fresheners, yummy digestive pills, and whatnot. Whoever wondered where we disappeared during our walk, here’s the answer.
Churans are made by powdering or mixing extracts of various ingredients such as raisins, tamarind, raw mangoes with salt, sugar, chilli powder. The resultant riot on the taste buds is known to stimulate digestion. We were sampling and buying these sweet and tangy yummies and our mouths are salivating while we type this paragraph.
Sweet and Salty Amla candy
Very close to Manek Chowk is the historical Teen Darwaza, a gate with three entrances. We found many carts selling all sorts of pickled gooseberry in this area. Gooseberry is known to be a great source of Vitamin C and is useful to stave off the cold in winters. So we bought some sweetened (with sugar and jaggery) candies, masala-coated candies, some pickled ones, and tasted the raw ones standing there. We completely endorse this item for anyone who loves the sweet-tangy fusion taste.
Golgappe – The unusual filling
Never have we ever seen Gol Gappa stuffing like this anywhere else in India. This was like hot aloo sabzi poured in empty gol gappa and topped with spicy tangy water. Yes, we are salivating while writing this.
Gujarati Thaali – Gujarat on a platter
For the uninitiated, Thaali is an assortment of Indian dishes served on a platter with bread, rice, chutneys, and salads. Some of the most popular Thaalis of India are from Gujarat and Rajasthan. These are served in restaurants all over the country as a set thaali or unlimited thaali for a fixed price. While we kept having Gujarati food at various places, our only Gujarati Thali experience on this trip was at Gordhan Thal in Ahmedabad.
Gujarati Thaali at Gordhan Thal
We are major Thali (platter) buffs and there was so much happening in this Gujarati Thali. There were dry as well as curried items like rasedar aloo, Gujarati kadhi and black chickpea. These were served with rice, chapati, and poori. There were vegetable cutlets and khaman in farsan. The dessert Gujarati Mattha (Shrikhand with fruits in it) was an absolute showstopper. We ended this delightful thali with piping hot Jalebi.
Potato Spring – Fusion food on the streets
Definitely not a Gujarati dish, but looks like Gujarat is twisting on these potato twisters. From a fancy cafe in Kutch (Urban Kutch) to the moving carts at the law garden market in Ahmedabad, this dish is almost everywhere. It was sinful, yummy, and looked like a favorite with youngsters.
What to eat at Rann Utsav
Rann Utsav is like culture travel into the heart of Gujarat. Kadhi, khichdi, and buttermilks are part of almost every meal here. We loved the following items here and you must go for these!
Thepla – TheGujarati Flatbread
The lavish buffets at the Lallooji Tent City at Rann Utsav are beyond this blog. But the piping hot Theplas flatbreads deserve special mention. We didn’t count how many of these we savored during our stay here.
This Indian response to a burger is a popular snack here in this region. A pair of burger buns hold a spicy potato patty and has pomegranate seeds sprinkled to balance the taste. This is one of our favorite bread dishes. We had Dabeli at Urban Kutch cafe which was very close to our tent city and is also a Gujarat Tourism initiative. Apart from Dabeli, they also serve a host of Indian and fusion dishes here.
Mawa – An Indian dessert in the desert
Mava or mawa (Koa) is dried milk that is used as an ingredient for cooking desserts. A sweetened version of this is consumed on its own. On our way to Bhuj from Rann of Kutch, we stopped at a roadside and had scoops of this sweet. It had a sticky granular texture and a wholesome taste. It was like a semi-solid version of milk cake that we get in North India. It would make the perfect end to a grand meal we thought.
And with this dessert, we are ending this post on Gujarati delicacies in Gujarat. If we recall any more dishes we are going to update this post.
Gujarati cuisine is a mixture of various elements. The healthy ways of cooking give Gujarati meals a soulful character. And we finally decode why Gujarat on our platter is what we gravitate towards when hungry.