I have always enjoyed the Gujarati Thalis at restaurants like Rajdhani in Bangalore. So I was looking forward to a more authentic experience during my recent trip to Gujarat. And I never imagined that that I would go through another “Highway on my plate” sort of experience.
My flight to Ahmedabad landed at noon as the summer sun was busy heating up the city. Since my itinerary was quite packed, I straighaway boarded a private bus for Patan about 130 Kms away. The plan was to see Rani Ni Vav which is a 10th century step well constructed by a queen of the Solanki dynasty. To save time, I had some sandwich on the flight and skipped lunch.
On my way back from the Vav I got the first taste of Gujarati food with Puri nu Rasavalu Shaak (Puri with vegetable gravy) at a roadside hotel in Patan. I found that the gravy in Gujarati dishes is not as thick as Punjabi gravy. As I was devouring the meal, I noticed a choice of Lassi on the menu and ordered the special Lassi. This was my first Lassi in Gujarat and thereafter I was besotted with Gujarati Lassi throughout the trip. The special ingredients in the Lassi were the cream, a dollop of vanilla ice-cream, nuts and sweet mango syrup. Gujarat is home for Amul and that showed in the taste and consistency of the Lassi itself. And the special additions took an already-good Lassi to a whole new level. I was glad I had skipped lunch that afternoon.
The overnight stay meant that the first encounter with Thali in Gujarat would have to be at Patan itself. Locals told me that it is not common to have a Thali for dinner in small towns but there was a place where I could get one. The name of this restaurant was an oxymoron for Gujarati Thali – “Dhosa Camp” near Chaar Rasta on SH7.
While Gujarati families around me were ordering Paper Masala Dosa, I settled down for a Thali. For Rs. 45 I could not have had a better Thali with prompt service. The Thali comprised of few typical items such as Black Chana, a cup of mildly sweet Daal, one dry vegetable curry and one with gravy. Rice, Chaas and unlimited hot Chapathis rounded off the dishes. The striking feature of this Thali was the simplicity of the dishes. Compared to the overwhelming Thalis in posh city restaurants, this Thali felt authentic and homely.