Most Popular Gujarati Food

Most Popular Gujarati Food

February 27, 2017
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Don’t we all remember Kareena Kapoor’s iconic dialogue from the movie 3 Idiots where she says “Tum Gujarati log ka khaana itna khatarnaak kyu hota hai… dhokla, fafda, handva, thepla.. jaise missiles hai”.  Well the names may sound like missiles, but it sure is all delicious and yummy. Many of us associate Gujarat only with dhokla, khakra or the drool-worthy Gujarati Thali. But there is more to Gujarati food than that. North Gujarat, Kacch, Kathiyawad and Surti Gujarat are four major regions of Gujarat and each of these bring their own uniqueness to Gujarati cuisine. Let us explore some of those dishes here:

1. Khaman

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)

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2. Thepla

No Gujarati journeys, 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 chundo, they make wholesome meals. 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.

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3. Khandvi

Thin layers of gram floor cooked with buttermilk and rolled up in mushy goodness, seasoned with sautéed sesame seeds and a few other spices, that’s khandvi for you. The simple but aromatic garnishing of curry leaves, coriander, sautéed cumin, mustard and coconut makes it simply irresistible.  Also called ‘suralichya wadya’ 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.

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4. Undhiyu

The king of Gujarati cuisine, Undhiyu (and of course Uttarayan) is the reason why a Gujarati eagerly awaits winter. It derives its name from the Gujarati word ‘undhu’, meaning inverted, 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 common occurrence during Gujarati weddings.

5. Muthiya

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 folks. 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 muthiya. Best relished with a dash of mint coriander chutney or ketchup, and a cup of steaming hot tea.

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6. Handvo

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 also pan-fried to make them crispy and golden, and the sesame seed seasoning makes them just irrestible! 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.

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7. Fafda-Jalebi

Made hugely popular by the daily soap ’Taarak Mehta ka Ulta Chashma’, this is (almost) every Gujarati’s dream cheat-day breakfast. Fafda is a crunchy, fried chickpea flour snack, jalebi is a sweet deep-fried pretzel made of wheat flour and dipped in sugar. 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 the crunchy, sweet jalebi, you are sure to be in food heaven. 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.

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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 part 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.

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9.  Sev Tameta nu Shaak

A sweet, salty, tangy, spicy shak (vegetable preparation) made from tomatoes and sev is a favorite in Gujarati households, especially among children. To prepare this dish, diced tomatoes and onions are sautéed with 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.

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10. Gujarati Kadhi

No Gujarati thali meal 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 a jaggery or sugar. The texture of this sweet and spicy, thin soup-like kadhi can be enhanced with the addition 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.

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11. Khichu

What started off as a dough for making the yummy khichiya papads, itself ended up as a delicious dish. Commonly found across the food stalls in many Dandiya and garba venues during Navratri, it is a dough made from rice flour added to boiling water alongside green chillies, cumin seeds, and sesame seeds, then cooked in steam and seasoned with groundnut oil. The groundnut oil seasoning gives a gourmet touch to this simple, wholesome dish. Although it is commonly prepared using the rice flour, other variants include usage of wheat flour, nachani (ragi) flour, bajri flour and jowar flour. Its warm, soft and gooey texture makes it a great evening snack during the colder months, loved by children and adults alike.

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12. Gota – The Gujarati Pakroas

Each state in India has its own version of the golden, crispy, yummy pakodas (fritters), and Gujarat is no exception. Gota is Gujarat’s very own pakoda dish made from gram flour and fenugreek leaves. Originating from the village of Dakor in Gujarat, Gota is a traditional dish in many Gujarati households and a special delicacy during Holi. Easy and fast to prepare and having a soft texture, it also makes for a delicious evening snack, especially when it is raining outside. Best relished with ketchup or a sweet and tangy chutney made from dates and tamarind.

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13. Mohanthal

A signature dish of many Gujarati households with each housewife adding her own special touch to this traditional recipe, mohanthal is a soft fudge-like sweet made from sweetened gram flour (besan) and flavored with saffron, cardamom and nuts like almonds and pistachios. A simple and homely treat for the palate, it is said to be Lord Krishna’s favorite dessert, and hence made very lovingly during the festival of Janmashtami. Although a traditional dessert, it is sometimes also prepared to satisfy those untimely dessert cravings. It can also be served as a tea-time snack, and can be found in all mithai shops across the state.

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14. Murghanu Shaak

A metaphorical slap-in-the-face for all those who think Gujarati food is only about vegetarian food. Murghanu Shak is a unique taste of Gujarat that celebrates those authentic Gujarati flavors of drumstick, potatoes and the Gujarati masala in this sweet, sour and tangy chicken dish. The chicken is marinated in a mixture of oil, yogurt and spices and then cooked in a lovely gravy of onions, garlic, ginger, chilli powder, garam masala and any other vegetables you may wish to add. It is a delicious, fast and easy recipe to make some delicious Gujarati-style chicken at home.

This is an attempt to mention just some of the dishes that this foodie state is famous for. There are several other dishes like patra, dabeli, doodhpak, dal dhokli, bajri no rotlo, locho, sev usal and dahi tikhari among others that deserve an honorable mention. Gujarat is indeed a heaven for foodies and as the above dishes indicates, there is something for everyone here in this flavor-packed cuisine. Can we see you drooling already?

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