Regional Cuisine – Gujarat
Common spices/seasonings used in Gujarati cuisine:
- Dry Ginger Powder or Sonth: Dried ginger powder is used in making spices and masalas which are used in gravies, curries and snacks in Gujarati cuisine; it adds a deeply aromatic and lightly pungent flavour to the food.
- Mustard Seeds or Sarson: Mustard seeds are exceedingly pungent and are widely used in Gujarati cuisine, it is used mainly as a tempering for snacks, lentils and vegetable curries
- Asafoetida or Hing: Asafoetida has a very strong, pungent smell and the flavour mellows as it is fried in oil. It is used to complement all the lentil dishes and dry snacks in Gujarati cuisine.
- Kokam: It is the main ingredient that brings the sour flavour to Gujarati dishes. The outer cover of fruit is dried in the sun to get aamsul or kokam. It is used to make foods sours in the cuisines of Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat, mainly the Konkan region of the country.
- Jaggery or Gur: Jaggery is added to lentil dishes to add sweetness to balance the spicy, salty and sour components in Gujarati cuisine.
Common vegetables used in Gujarati cuisine:
- Bottle Gourd: Also known as 'dudhi' is both nutritious and perennial. Mainly a summer staple, this is one vegetable that is served in a variety of ways! It can be used to make koftas, muthias (steamed dumplings) and the famous Dudhi Halwa.
- Pointed Gourd: Also known as 'parwal', this gourd is cooked in variety of ways such as a curried, stir fried, sautéed with other vegetables and also stuffed!
- Okra or Lady Finger: Also known as 'bhindi', this is a seasonal summer staple in Gujarat. Unlike other regional cuisines where it is prepared as a dry, side dish, here in Gujarat, okra is served curried too.
- Sweet Potato or Shakarkandi: This large, potato like tuberous vegetable is starchy and sweet tasting, a flavour that matures when the vegetable is cooked. It is a key ingredient of the famous dish, 'oondhiya'.
- Brinjal or Aubergines: This is yet another perennial vegetable and is available in a variety of shapes and sizes all of which have a special cooking method in Gujarati cuisine. In Gujarati food, aubergines are curried, stir fried, deep fried with batter and stuffed too.
- Dhokla: This snack is a typical example of Gujarati food’s blend of sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Made with a fermented batter of gram flour (chickpea flour), this is a steamed dish, once ready it is tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
- Khakhra: Is a crispy flatbread that is seasoned with a variety of flavours from spices to chillies to simply salt and asafoetida. The dough is made with wheat flour, much like a ‘roti’, except a ‘khakra’ is rolled out very thin and roasted on a ‘tava’ with very little oil, so it turns out crunchy and dry.
- Khandvi: This is a savoury made of gram flour and curd, tempered with mustard seeds. A paste is made with the flour and then cooked slowly till it is thick. This paste is then steamed to make sheets which are lightly and delicately rolled. The rolls are then tempered; they are sometimes served stuffed too.
- Muthiya: Famous for both fried and steamed snacks, this is another steamed specialty from Gujarat. This recipe combines vegetables and gram flour to form dough that is formed into balls and steamed. Seasoned with cumin, aniseed, ginger and chillies, the dish is made more flavourful with a tempering of mustard seeds and asafoetida.
Shaak and Daal: Vegetables and Curries
- Gujarati Kadhi: This version of 'kadhi' is made with sour curd and gram flour, thickened over a slow flame till cooked. The main difference is that it is 'sweet' yet served as a savoury main course. It turns out rich and creamy with a fine sweet and sour balance.
- Oondhiya: Oondhiya is a famous Gujarati main course dish made with a variety of vegetables like brinjals, potatoes, yam etc. and fenugreek dumplings which is then cooked in an aromatic blend of spices.
- Trevti Daal: As the name suggests this is a lentil preparation made with three types of 'dals', moong, toor and chana. Cooked with flavours of onions, tomatoes, ginger and chillies, once ready it is tempered with red chillies and asafoetida fried in pure 'ghee'.
- Bajri no rotlo: Made with millet flour, these Gujarati ‘roti’s’ are hearty and nutritious. Sometimes seasoned with spices and seasonings, these can be made stuffed too.
- Bhakhri: This is a round, unleavened flatbread, much like a ‘roti’, except it is rolled fairly thin and turns out crisp not soft. It is served with curd, chutney, vegetables and rice. Like breads around the world, bhakri is a staple food. It is made mostly from wheat flour, jowar flour, bajra flour, nachni (finger millet) flour.
- Thepla: Theplas are spiced ‘parantha’s’ made with whole wheat dough and usually eaten with curds and ‘chunda’, theplas can be enjoyed hot or otherwise. Sometimes whole cumin or sesame can be added to enhance the flavour of this meal staple.
- Basundi: Much like ‘rabri’, this is a sweet dish cooked in milk, till the milk thickens and sweetens. Almonds and pistachios can be added to lend a crunch to this creamy dessert. In winters, the addition of saffron makes this a heartier dish.
- Puran Poli: Gujarati ‘puran poli’ is made with toor dal, the same one used to make ‘sambhar’. Its unique flavour and characteristic aroma can be attributed to the special spices used and it is the sweet filling that every family usually has a secret recipe for!
- Shrikhand: This simple and cooling summer dessert is made with hung curd and is a speciality in Gujarat and Maharashtra. The strained yogurt is blended with sugar and flavoured with cardamom and saffron. The flavours depend on the recipe used. It is then left in the refrigerator for the sugar to dissolve and the dish to set, it is served chilled.