Gujarati food is primarily vegetarian food that is comprised of lip smacking delicacies that are extremely tasty and healthy as well. In fact, the food is so popular that Gujarati restaurants have sprouted all over the country serving food that is a visual treat and a delight for the palate.
Gujarati food has a perfect balance of ingredients – a potent mix of spices, flavours and textures. While Indian food is mostly spicy, Gujarati food stands out for the hint of sweetness that it carries from the sugar or jaggery that is added to all their preparations.
Gujarati food is normally served in a thali or a large platter with multiple small bowls or katoris to hold the wide array of preparations. A typical meal consists of farsan or snacks, different kinds of breads or rotis, a couple of sabjis or vegetables, dal, gravies, rice and not to forget sinful desserts. Gujaratis love their chaas or buttermilk to go with their food and no meal is complete without downing a couple of glasses of chaas.
Here is a look at what a typical Gujarati thali comprises of.
Farsan is the name given to starters that are normally steamed or fried and work perfectly as snacks as well. Popular items are the dhokla, khandvi, patra, bhajiya and handvo. Dhokla and khandvi are preparations made by steaming gram flour. Patra is made by rolling taro leaves with a spiced gram flour paste, steaming them, chopping them into discs that are then shallow fried. Bhajiyas are made by deep frying vegetables dipped in gram flour paste while handvo is a steamed delicacy made from rice flour. They are served as a part of the thali with chutneys as accompaniments. They also make for a great tea time snack!
While Gujaratis eat the wheat roti or phulkas as a staple, they also make breads out of corn, millets and sorghum. They also make spiced theplas that are made by mixing various flours with shredded vegetables that are ideal for travel. During special occasions, you will find Gujarati households abuzz with activity, making puran polis that are thin rotis with sweet dal filling. Usually, a thali would consist of phulkas and one other variety of roti that is served with a generous helping of ghee or clarified butter.
Gujarati cuisine is among the few cuisines in the country that have both wheat and rice based dishes that are consumed widely. The thali often includes khichdi, that is a rice preparation made with dal and seasoning. They also eat plain rice with vegetables and dal and also use rice in puddings.
Occupying multiple katoris on the thali are various side dishes to go with your roti or rice. They are commonly called shaak which is Gujarati for sabji or vegetables. In a typical thali, you will find a dry vegetable, usually sautéed potatoes, okra or capsicum. Along with it is a gravy-based dish with a gourd vegetable. A thali also has a curd based preparation called kadhi that is made by tempering buttermilk and gram flour mixture. Undhiyu is another popular element of the thali which is a winter preparation that is like a vegetable casserole with seasonal vegetables.
Gujaratis are known for their sweet tooth and a weakness for all things sweet. Their thalis have at least three sweet dishes, like crispy jalebis, rice kheer, gulab jamuns, malpua or shrikhand. During the mango season, Gujaratis overdose on alphonso mangoes, making delectable aamras with them that is served with puris.
Aside from this, Gujaratis also eat a wide variety of fried snacks that are made of rice or gram flour. Gujarati women make snacks like chakli, fafda, gathia and sev,stocking them up to serve as breakfast or nasta as it is popularly known in Gujarat.
A Gujarati thali is not just a meal but an experience altogether that will leave your taste buds satiated with their mélange of flavours. While they are best experienced in Gujarat, your neighbourhood Gujarati restaurant is also a great place for you to sample the rich and delectable array of foods that are served in Gujarat.
Image credit: rajkotfoodie, wikipedia, maharajabhog