Snacks run in the veins of Gujaratis. A one-time reply to all questions about Gujarat food goes like this - "Naastha hai par breakfast nahi."
Naastha meaning their snacks.
Everything is either deep-fried or drenched in ghee or usually some variant of gram flour. Here is my favorite pick from the gastronomical delight I had in Gujarat.
1. KATHIAWADI THALI
On the first day in Gujarat, as we sat at a restaurant in Ahmedabad and asked what is unique in Gujarati thali, the waiter quickly said we have only Kathiawadi thali. Kathiawad is a section of Gujarat, and mainly across Gujarat, it is the Kathiawadi thali that you get as meals.
The thali has unlimited roti being served along with khichdi and traditional side dishes.
Some of them, Bajra rotla - Bajra roti, super thick, and one roti was more than enough to fill you up. Comes laden with ghee Khichdi - Gujarati khichdi came in different versions across Gujarat. It is the best bet to have for the traveler's tummy. Lite and fluffy, loaded with ghee, comes with moong dal and green gram dal flavors.
I would usually retire my night with a plate of khichdi Tomato Sev - A side dish to the roti, and as the name translates, it is a tomato-based gravy with sev bhujia added to it. Tastes yum! And it is the most common side dish that you might want to run from it.
Kadhi - accompanied with everything. Sometimes tangy, sometimes bland. Even with snacks, they serve kadhi Gol & ghee - missing in the picture but bajra roti with gur (jaggery) and ghee is the tastiest, complete and straightforward meal. Some restaurants serve it as a separate dish, while some are generous to keep it on your table. Bharela Ringan - Stuffed brinjal.
While I thought bharela is karela (bitter gourd), it turned out to be brinjal. Chaas - A big glass of buttermilk always accompanies a plate of meals. Even otherwise, after roaming through the drylands of Gujarat, a cup of buttermilk is the most soothing for your soul. One guy was generous to leave a jug of chaas on our table !!
Kathiawadi thali does not have white rice and dal.
One cannot miss Thepla in Gujarat. It is lite and had with pickle, curd, and fried chillies. We always had theplas packed on our long journeys as it does not require any side dish and comes for a long time without getting spoiled.
3. KHAMAN DHOKLA, PATRA / PATRODE, HANDVO & KHANDVI
Khaman Dhokla, I am sure everyone is aware of dhokla. It is the variants in which dhokla is served which kept me amused. One gave with just hot and sour chutney. One added bhel, onion, tomato with sauce. One mashed a whole potato along with it and gave a plateful of dhokla.
Tastes best when it is from a roadside shop. Patra / Patrode is a leaf that is wound together with jaggery, gram flour, spices and fried together. Handvo - It is like dhokla deep-fried. I was not a fan of it. Khandvi - steamed rolled gram flour served with chutney. My vote is for dhokla any time! It was the best of all of them.
4. GUJARATI KHAVA
Evenings are generally cold in Gujarat. And walking on the beach with a super cold breeze brushing against your face makes you tuck with layers and sip a hot cup of khava. Khava is tea along with some herbs brewing in a brass vessel. Hee adds ginger juice, lemon juice, pepper,r, and adds the brewing drink to me in a cup. It's a spicy drink. I was with a sore throat, and this was such an incredible discovery!
A couple of cups of hot khava and my cold disappeared.
Who thought Poha would come with a twist? But Gujarat surprised me with Poha! On an early morning walk down the street wondering if any hotel will provide breakfast, a roadside vendor had poha topped with pomegranate seeds which were not the only surprised.
He scooped a plateful of poha topped with onion, tomato, sev, freshly squeezed lemon, and freshly grated beetroot when ordered. It is the best poha I have ever come across and ordered one more plate.
6. SHINGODA / SINGHARA
No idea if I should classify it as fruit or vegetable. For this is like some snack that everyone buys, like peanuts. She said you could steam it and eat or just like that eat. Peel the skin and pop it into your mouth; it is more like a juicy potato! Found throughout Gujarat, try for the fun of it.
7. KUTCHI DABELI
Dabeli was a surprise find! It's the bun, and between the bun, there is potato filling, sev, onion, pomegranate, hot and sour chutney, sweet chutney, and yum it is! of course, it goes over a hot Tava which has dollops of butter added to coat the already tasty bun. Quickly two to three dabelis went in!
Farsan, in general, means starters or snacks as starters. A plateful of assorted bhajjis come to you. Be it a restaurant or street vendors, and they usually serve farsan with khadi!
9. KHARI BISCUIT / PUFF BISCUIT
Khari biscuits are so ordinary in Gujarat that every bakery sells them. It is puffed with no filling. Lite, fluffy puff pastry that is a popular tea time snack. Pack some and munch on during long bus travels.
Chaa! Oh my, Godd the ultimate cup of tea to be found in every street of Gujarat. I was surprised to see that even the street vendors had Amul Taaza thick milk and were making a tea out of it. Just tea automatically implies ginger tea and sometimes gets masala also added. Ask for tea, and the saucer comes along, be it a cup or glass tumbler, so that you can pour the tea in the saucer and slurp it !!
Amidst your walks in the streets, refresh yourself with kadak chai...
One more missing from the list is Chikki! Assortment of chikkis available there and that to stack up like buildings by street vendors. It is not just peanut chikki but crushed versions of it, dry fruits, til, and many varieties.
So, I would suggest you pack some chikkis for home when you bid adieu to Gujarat !!
Did you notice that I have not mentioned anything remotely close to nonvegetarian; that is because I forgot about it in Gujarat...
Happy Eating !!