While each of the many regions of India offer their own takes on traditional Indian foods and cuisine, it is the food dishes of Gujarat that truly draw our appetites. The dishes of Gujarat share much in common with dishes from surrounding states as well as Pakistani and Persian influences, but also are uniquely Gujarati. Very much comfort food, Gujarati dishes are warm, inviting, and use rich blends of spices.
With its location on the Western edge of Continental India, Gujarati borders Pakistan on its Northern edge, the Arabian Sea on its Western and Southwestern edges, and the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to the east, Gujarat is a center of trade and transportation for all of the Middle East and Asia — giving it a wealth of fresh ingredients.
Pav Bhaji is one of our favorite dishes from Gujarat; though its origins come from Maharashtra to the east, it is one of the most popular dishes in Gujarat today. A thick vegetable curry, this dish is a common lunch for workers, and is a “fast food” staple. The ingredients can vary, but is generally a mixture of mashed vegetables in a thick gravy that is served with soft rolls or “pav.”
Found all over India, khandvi is a snack that is especially popular in Gujarat, with it being featured in many shops throughout the state. khandvi are thin sheets of a dough made from besan or gram flour mixed with curd and yogurt. Formed into rolls, khandvi is often garnished with green chilies or coconut.
A Gujarati dessert, basundi is made of thickened milk mixed with sugar, cardamom, charoli and saffron. A simple dish, different areas and regions often experiment and create new flavors of basundi such as apple or pistachio, and in the Northern Indian States a version of this is called “rabri.” It can best be compared to a type of ice cream, with its many flavors and styles.
Originating in Rajasthan to the North, the Gujarati version of Kadhi is easily our favorite traditional dish of the region. A spicy gravy served with sour yogurt, rice and fried pakora fritters, kadhi can best be compared to a thick cream soup, with the fritters acting as dumplings. Like so many other dishes in India, the recipe for kadhi changes not only from region to region, but even street to street, though the basic ingredients remain the same.
A sweet dish made from strained yogurt, shrikhand is one of the most widely enjoyed desserts in Gujarat, and dates back to 400 B.C.. Much like basundi, the preparation is simple, though flavors of cardamom, saffron and other spices are added to flavor the yogurt. Shrikhand should be served chilled and is often garnished with pistachios or rose petals.
Khichdi is a very important dish for not only Gujarat and India, but for the world. For thousands of years in India, khichdi has traditionally been t he first solid food that is fed to growing babies. Made of a mash of lentils, rice and vegetables, the dish is not as heavily spiced as so many other Indian and Gujarati dishes, and instead gets much of its flavor from the vegetables made into the mash. Common vegetables added to khichdi are cauliflower, potatoes, peas, and other boiled and mashed vegetables. This dish was the inspiration for the Egyptian dish kushari, as well as the Anglo-Indian dish kedgeree.
A traditional unleavened flat bread — similar to tortillas — chapati are a staple in Gujarat, and are often found alongside many other dishes as the main table bread. In Hindi, the word chapati means “to slap,” much like how chapati rolls are slapped and formed into their flat and circular shape. The only ingredients are flour and water that are mixed to form the basic dough, and while the most common flour used is whole wheat, other types of flour can be used.
A popular snack in Gujarat — as well as in Pakistan — Kachori are small balls of dough that are stuffed with a filling. Most often the filling is made with moong dal or other mashed legumes mixed with pepper and sometimes onions. Once stuffed, the kachori are then either baked or fried. Variations on the recipe are wide, including sweet versions served with chutney, and more decadent versions made with potatoes.
Thick, yet airy cakes made from fermented batter, dhokla are a common item in Gujarat and India, with it being served as a snack, as well as a popular breakfast item. Rice and chickpeas are soaked, then fermented for 4-5 hours overnight before being steamed and cut into squares. The fermented batter can also be fried, and various sweet dhokla recipes are common as well. Serve dhokla with fresh-fried chilies for a spice finish.
A Potato-based curry, Khatta Aloo is a Gujarati take of the Indian Khatta or Khatte. Featuring onions, pepper, cumin and a variety of other spices, this dish is spicy and filling and is often served alongside flatbread for dipping. while the spices can vary in the different recipes, the potatoes are the star ingredient.
A sweet flatbread, puran poli is most often made from besan or gram flour and a melange of sugar, coconut and nutmeg. The dough is rolled flat and cooked lightly on both sides. Puran poli is often served as a quick snack by vendors in marketplaces, train stations and other public squares, and is served lightly buttered.
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