While Gujarat has a long coastline and an almost endless supply of fish
and shellfish, strict Jainism in the past and orthodox Hinduism today have
encouraged the widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet. The Gujarati food
is mostly vegetarian. The dishes of Gujarat are not very spicy and sweet
than those of the neighboring states. The Gujarati cuisine is delightfully
delicious with a combination of leafy vegetables and pulses subtly flavoured
with spices to the accompaniment of rice and a variety of breads. The typical
Gujarati meal is served traditionally on large silver or stainless steel
platters or thali that consists of one variety of dal, Kadhi-a curd preparation,
two to three vegetables, wide variety of beans and pulses, salad savories,
sweets, puri or chappati, rice, coconut, chutneys, pickles, papad and sweetened
yoghurt. There are slight differences in the modes of preparation and eating
habits in the main three geographical regions of Kutch, Saurashtra (kathiawad)
and Surat. Some of the popular dishes of Gujarat are 'Khaman Dhokla', a
salty steamed cake, 'Oondhiya' a vegetarian dish with potato, brinjal, green
beans and other vegetables cooked in an earthenware pot in the fire, 'Khichdi'
a mixture of lentil and rice, 'Kadhi' a savoury yoghurt curry with chopped
vegetables and variety of spices, 'Debra' flour mixed with spinach and yoghurt
etc. Surat Paunk is made with tender kernels of millet, sugar balls, savoury
twists and garlic chutney. Gujarati 'farsans' or crunchy fried snacks like
Chakli, Sev Ganthia prepared from chick-pea and wheat flour is a speciality
of the state. Eating freshly prepared vegetable snacks from street vendors
is popular. Sweets and desserts like Doodh Pak, Gharis, Nankhatais etc.
are also delicious. Surat is known for the gharis made with butter, dried
fruits and thickened milk and rich halwa. In contrast to the majority of
Hindus who are pure vegetarians, the Bohras, a community of Muslim traders,
are famous for their beef preparations and a variety of soups.
You can experience all these constituents of the vegetarian Gujarati meal by having a Thali at Vishala, about 5 kms. from Ahmedabad. It is a restaurant and part of a complex is described as a Gujarati village with a small museum, local crafts and performing arts. In the village complex, you can also see the craftsmen weaving and making earthen pots, the puppet show, and dances. The food is served on platters of leaves stitched together that includes various vegetables, pulses, salads, chutneys, yoghurt, rice and wide variety of breads made of millet and other flours. In the end the buttermilk and rich homemade ice-creams are served. Besides Vishala, there are various other good restaurants in Ahmedabad which offers the Gujarati food. Chinese and Continental cuisine are also available in major hotels.