Gujarati cuisine comes from Gujarat, the state with a long coastline on the western part of the country. In spite of being close to the coast, Gujarati food is more known for its lip-smacking, delicious vegetarian fare more so because of the effect of Jain philosophy and culture. The varied dishes are high on the nutritional content and are heady combinations of tangy, spicy and sweet flavors.
The Uniqueness of Gujarati Dishes
One of the uniqueness of this cuisine is the simplicity of preparation. Another is the significant use of items such as buttermilk, yogurt, gram flour, the specific variety of vegetables and lentils, sesame seeds and other spices in its cooking. A leaning towards the sweeter taste is what sets it really apart from the rest of the cuisines; a result of the use of jaggery or sugar in almost all of its preparations. Seasonings and spices are a big must-haves for the cooking and a traditional blend of various spices are used as per the seasonal availability in preparation of food to help in expediting digestion.
With the climate of Gujarat being predominantly dry and hot, items like tomatoes, sugar, lime, lemon, and kokum form a part of the daily cooking because that contributes towards keeping the body hydrated and cool. The food is rich in protein content due to the use of cereals, lentils, and vegetables in great measures. To give an example, Thepla, which is a staple Gujarati food is as healthy as it can be. A combination of fresh fenugreek, wheat flour, and masalas these rotis are filling, nutritious and are a slow energy release food being low in saturated fats and calories. Signature dishes of Gujarat are a tasty balance of savory and sweet and its varied items can be sampled best in a traditional Gujarati thali. The large use of herbs, spices, and flavors make the Gujarati food relishing, scrumptious and delicious tickling one’s taste buds to no end. It’s no wonder that Gujarati food has been termed as ‘the haute cuisine of vegetarianism’ by one of the famous cookbook writers.
Regional Specialties of the State
The entire Gujarati cuisine comprises of varieties coming from basically the four principal regions of the state; namely North Gujarat, Kathiyawad, Kacch and South Gujarat with each area lending its own distinctive taste to the cuisine.
Food from North Gujarat can be said to be less spicy than the other regions including the dals, sprouts, veggies, pickles, raita, chutneys and the best of all its famous farsans. Khandvi, patra, dhokla, khaman can be counted as some of the farsan names from this category that have gained nation-wide popularity. Surti or South Gujarat food is a little spicier and Undhiyu is one of its winter delicacies that have earned an important place on the palates of all food connoisseurs. With the people having a sweet tooth, a varied fare of sweet dishes is common to this region. As far as the Kathiyawad region goes, the signature dish of the area is Dhebras and its varied array of pickles. Meals of Kacch are simple and include kadhi-khichdi, guvarnu shaak- bajra rotlo to name a few dishes. The main differential aspect of food from the Kathiyawaad and Kucch region is the greater usage of red chilies.
Brief Glimpse into the Varied Items of Gujarati Meal
1. Roti Varieties
Bajri nu Rotla: Delicious Comfort Food
As winter sets in the first dish that is recommended by Gujju moms are bajra-nu=rotlo. Rich in fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorous and iron, the bhakri or flatbread is made from gluten-free millet called the bajra. A staple item in most Gujarati households this tastes good with ringana no odo (baingan bharta) or with gud and ghee.
Dal Dhokli: Filling One-Course Meal
Make your Sunday morning a delight with this single course meal that is wholesome, spicy and extremely tasty. Bits of whole wheat flour spiced with ajwain and allowed to simmer in a lentil based mix peppered with spices is sure to get your taste buds tingling. Serve it with homemade ghee and see the dish becoming an instant hit at home.
Thepla: Picnic Staple
A favorite during picnics, business or foreign trips this universal snack is highly sought by people from all walks of life because of its long shelf life. The use of whole wheat flour, gram flour, fresh fenugreek leaves and spices in this snack makes it nutritious. Serve it with chundo, fresh curds or pickle and make your breakfast or snack a highly filling one.
Vaghareli Rotli: Tasty Snack from Leftovers
A south Gujarat specialty, this dish uses leftover rotis, combines it with the goodness of yogurt and a balanced bout of spices to create a tantalizing outcome which goes well as your breakfast menu. It helps to utilize the leftovers creatively and also satisfies the hunger pangs to the fullest.
2. Rice Preparations
Varied Forms of Kichdi: One Pot Wholesome Meal
Gujaratis are known for their varied forms of kichdi made from differing combinations of ingredients. Rice and lentils combine or broken wheat and lentils one, cooked with a medley of vegetables and spices, this dish is a total nutrient powerhouse. Served hot with ghee, papad, and pickle it is nothing short of a miracle on earth.
3. Signature Vegetable Dishes & Dal
Ringana no odo: Roasted Eggplant-Kathiyawadi Style
This is one of the most popular recipes from the Kathiyawad region of Gujarat and comprises of roasted brinjal to which spices and ginger are added for enhancing the flavor and taste. It is best eaten with bajri no rotlo along with a dollop of butter, spring onion, and garlic chutney.
Undhiyu: Royal Winter Treat
A must-haves for Gujarati weddings this delicacy is traditionally made in an upturned clay pot though today there is not much option other than cooking it on the stove top. The freshest of winter veggies go into this recipe like yam, eggplant, elephant foot, sweet potatoes, green peas, baby potatoes, bananas, steamed or fried muthiyas, beans which are cooked on slow flame along with coriander, garlic leaves, coconut, and spices. It can be eaten as a standalone or tastes great with puris.
Adad ni Daal: Nutritious Kathiyawadi Dal
Go for a Dal, the Kathiyawadi way. Pick up urad for making a tasty, nutritious Adad ni dal. Made with split black gram this recipe is delicious and easy to make. A blend of ginger-garlic paste, mushy sautéed tomatoes and a flavorful tadka that goes on the cooked dal makes it a perfect accompaniment to the Gujarati bhakri or rice.
Khatti Meethi Dal: For the Sweet & Sour Taste
An easy dal recipe which combines the tangy and the sweet taste will be liked by people who want a change from their regular dal routine. The inclusion of kokum lends the tangy taste to the recipe while jaggery adds sweetness in the right measure. This is best served with steamed rice and a spoonful of home-made ghee.
4. Gujarati Farsan
Khaman Dhokla: Flagship of Gujarati Cuisine
A steamed recipe using fermented gram flour of thick consistency which is mixed with yogurt and other spices, the khaman dhokla, is the pride of Gujarati cuisine. The steamed spongy dhoklas are cut and seasoned with mustard seeds and served with fresh coriander and grated coconut. Varied accompaniments like sweet and spicy chutneys, raw papaya salad or fried green chilies go with the dish. If you want to make it quick and fast substitute the fermentation process with Eno food salt and you have the dish ready in less than 30 minutes.
Dal Vada: Scrumptious Rainy Day Snack
Who can doubt the healthiness of a snack when it contains a mixture of split yellow and green lentils along with rice and little amount of black lentils? Well, the Gujarati dal vada is a crispy snack and though it is deep fried the lentil content is definitely an add-on to its nutrient source. A perfect snack to go on a rainy day!
Fafda-Jalebi: Tasty Cheat Breakfast
Indulge your taste buds to this divine combination of crunchy fafdas and crispy jalebis and you will not ask for anything more! Fafda is a savory snack made from chickpea flour while jalebi is a sweet deep-fried dish made from refined flour. Some raw papaya chutney or a fried chilly to go with it and you will know why Gujaratis make this a must-include breakfast on holidays.
Dabeli: Tangy, Crunchy Lip-Smacking Snack
One of the best ever street foods to come out of the Kutch area of Gujarat, the dabeli is a heady combination of varied tastes; spicy, tangy, crunchy with a hint of sweetness rolled into one. The smooth potato filling that goes into a lightly roasted bun sprinkled with tangy and spicy chutneys, mixed with crunchy peanuts and fresh pomegranate and finally topped with nylon sev ensure to make this a very appetizing and tasty dish.
Surti Locho: Steamed & Nutritious Street Food
Steamed and low in oil, this dish which originates from Surat is nutritious and light and goes well with your tea or coffee. The dish is high in nutrients as the urad and the chana dal that are used in the making of the dish are good sources of protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. So if you want a tasty and spicy dish that is also healthy then Surti locho is the dish for you!
5. Famous Gujarati Sweets
Basundi: Thickened Milk Delight
Thickened and sweetened milk, basundi is a high-energy dessert laced with dry fruits and cardamom. Though it ranks high in calories it is definitely a refreshing treat when served cold at any time of the day. Cooking high-fat content milk over slow flame lends it a thick creamy texture. It is normally served with puris but can be relished to the last sip as a standalone dish too.
Sukhdi: Nutritious Sweet Snack
A dessert that is quick and easy to make, sukhdi uses only three ingredients namely whole wheat flour, jaggery, and ghee. The dish is ready to be served in as less as 15 minutes and the ingredients when combined together make for a highly nutritious in- between- meal snack. A very healthy option for growing kids too.
Adadiya Pak: Winter Special
The recipe when prepared the traditional way includes ingredients that enable the body to remain warm in the winter. Made by roasting urad dal in ghee slowly over a low flame and then adding spices and nutritious nuts, this recipe is heavy and can be enjoyed with your morning tea or coffee.
Lapsi: Nutritious Fiber-Rich Sheera
Lapsi is made from broken wheat or dalia which is a healthier option to whole wheat. Broken wheat roasted in ghee and cooked in warm milk or water and sweetened with jaggery instead of the traditional sugar gives a highly nutritious fiber-rich sweet that can be eaten by the diabetics too. A lot of other health benefits like aiding in constipation, acting as nutritious weaning food and becoming a high fiber and protein intake are just to name a few.
Churma Ladoo: Lord Ganesha’s Favorite
A combination of whole wheat flour that is roughly grounded, ghee and sugar; this ladoo is normally made during festive occasions especially during ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’. A very heavy ladoo and very filling and definitely not meant for the calorie conscious.
On a Concluding Note
A wide array of Gujarati dishes goes to make the Gujarati cuisine and the above is just a glimpse of some of the main ones in each category. There are still many more dishes that add zing to an everyday meal. Every dish in the cuisine has a well- balanced combination of different flavors that help to add to its uniqueness. You can savor a lot of the above varieties and more through the delights of the Gujarati thali meal. The thali allows you to relish the subtle balance of varied flavors like sweet, salty, spicy, tangy, crispy, spongy and deep fried. It’s no wonder that Gujarati food is savored by people all over the world.
Note:- All images have been taken from Google.