Thursday, 20 March 2014

10 Must-Have Gujarati Dishes

Gujaratis (people from the state of Gujarat in western India) have a big love affair with their food. No wonder, as soon as people find out that I am a Gujarati and a food blogger, the conversation turns towards Gujarati food.

If I had to use three words to describe Gujarati food they would be 'sweet', 'sour' and 'abundant'. Yes, Gujarati food is unapologetic about the presence of sugar or jaggery and lemon or tamarind in most dishes and about eating and feeding in hearty quantities.

As I have often declared, I am a Gujarati who eats very little Gujarati food. This is because I am not a great fan of all the sour and sweet flavours being there in the food all the time. However there are few dishes of Gujarati cuisine that I truly relish and that make me go back to my roots. 

Here is my list of Gujarati dishes you MUST have-

Fresh Toor Kachoris (Leeli Tuver ni Kachori)

This is a seasonal snack made in winters when fresh toor (leeli tuver) is available. This fried crisp kachori is filled with minced fresh toor that is sauteed with sesame, ginger, garlic, and flavoured with lemon and sugar for the Gujarati touch. It is a great snack and a traditional dish not easily found outside Gujarati home kitchens. So you either need to make it for yourselves or get invite to a Gujarati home in winters to have it!

Mag ni Dal na Pudla

This five ingredient quick fix make the taste of the moong dal (split green lentil) the hero of the taste of this dish. Neither too pungent, nor too spicy, this dish is great for kids and foreigners who love Indian food but beware of the pungency levels. It is full of proteins and makes for a great breakfast dish or a snack at any time of the day.

3. Lapsi

Lapsi: Image Courtesy:
Lapsi is a sweet dish made of finely broken wheat. It is made by roasting broken wheat in ghee (clarified butter) and then cooking it in water with sugar and cardamom till it is soft. Lapsi holds quite some significance in Gujarati cuisine and is often cooked during a lot of festivals and weddings.

4. Handvo

Handvo: Image Courtesy:

Handvo is a dish made famous by the scene in 3 Idiots where a drunk Kareena Kapoor asks Amir Khan as to why Gujarati dishes sound so dangerous with names like 'handvo' and 'dhokla' that sound like the name of bombs. Handvo are savoury lentil cakes made on the gas stove top that are served with a tempering of sesame seeds, red chillies and corriander on top. They make for a good snack or a light lunch or dinner dish.

5. Undhiyu

Undhiyu: Image Courtesy:

Undhiyu is the most popular and elaborate Gujarati dish I have come across. Like tuver ni kachori, it is a seasonal dish, made only when fresh garlic with greens, surti papdi (broad beans) and leeli tuver are available. A main course dish had with pooris or rotis, it is made of different vegetables like papdi, tuver, baby brinjals, potatoes, sweet potatoes, purple yams and peas and muthiyas (fried spicy balls of fresh fenugreek with wheat flour, semolina and gram flour) in a green gravy made of fresh corriander, fresh garlic with greens, coconut and corriander seeds powder. This is a Sunday favourite in most Gujarati homes during winter when the family sits together to eat it and then can have a long afternoon nap afterwards (as it is very heavy!)

Gujarati Kadhi

Move over Punjabi pakodewaali kadhi, this is kadhi as we Gujaratis do it! Undeniably sour and sweet with hints of spice from the chillies, curry leaves and cumin, Gujarati kadhi is a yogurt sauce best had with plain steamed rice. It is usually served with chhuti dal steamed yellow moong dal as an accompaniment, the scientific reason being to make up for the proteins needed in the meal!

7. Panki 

Panki: Image Courtesy:

Panki is a steamed crepe made of rice flour flavoured with turmeric, cumin, salt, garlic and green chillies. It is steamed by wrapping in a banana leaf and is served hot wrapped in the leaf. It makes for a great appetizer that gets the juices flowing.

8. Mag ni Dal na Dhokla

Mag ni Dal na Dhokla

Dhoklas are very famous Gujarati snacks. My experience has often been that it is the most popularly requested recipe from me. Mag ni dal na dhokla are made from split green lentils instead of the regular fermented rice batter (white khatta dhokla) or gram flour dhoklas (yellow khaman dhokla). Again made from 5 ingredients, these steamed dhoklas are light, lovely and tasty. They are perfect for vegetarians, vegans or those on a diet.

9. Khandvi


Khandvi are delicate, thin gram flour and buttermilk rolls that take some practice and effort to get proficiency in. The rolls in themselves are only flavoured with salt and buttermilk but the tempering of mustard, cumin and corriander adds another layers of flavour to it. I love this dish for it's delicate texture and flavours.

10. Masala Chaas 

Masala Chaas
With our love for hearty meals with plenty of food, no meal can be complete without masala chaas (spiced buttermilk) as an appetizer or after-meal digestive beverage. Masala chaas is a very easy and quick beverage and has beautiful flavours of cumin, ginger, chilly and fresh corriander that spice up the regular buttermilk made of  yogurt, water and salt.

Gujarati cuisine is full of flavours and colours with plenty of dishes in terms of variety and quantity.