By the end of third day on my trip to Gujarat, I had experienced some wonderful culinary delights. And I can safely say that best was yet to come as well as a grand finale to the whole trip.
I returned from the White Rann of Kutch to the town of Bhuj in the evening. Since I had already tried Thali, I wandered around for some snacks and noticed several shops selling Dabeli. At that time I was not aware that Kutch is famous for Dabeli. But after one round of Dabeli at Janata Dabeli Stall in Bhuj, I was hooked.
Dabeli is a potato and ground nut based filling that is stuffed into a bun or paav. The specialty of Kutchi Dabeli is the masala used in making the filling. The combination of sweet and spicy flavours left me smacking my lips.
After I gorged down 2 more Dabelis, I walked over to the Swaminarayan Juice shop for a soothing glass of fresh sugarcane juice. The sugarcanes come directly from their farms in Mandvi (town where the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was shot). The fresh hand-pressed sugarcane was invigorating as it washed down the Dabeli.
The tasty Dabeli and fresh sugarcane juice was a perfect way to end my stay in Bhuj.
Early next morning, we started our drive back to Modhera and Ahmadabad. My driver suggested that we drive through Sankeshwar and enjoy breakfast at the stunning Jain temples in that town. The Jain temples have bhojanalayas where they server sumptuous food at subsidised prices. The temples have fixed timings for serving food, so make sure you reach at the right time. We had breakfast at the 108 Parshvnath Temple. The breakfast menu included Puri, Bhaji, Daal, Rice-Khichdi, Jalebi and Chai. For the Rs. 35 charge, the temple served a hearty breakfast.
After a quick visit of Sun Temple at Modhera, I reached Ahmadabad late in the afternoon. I plopped into the hotel bed and ordered room service. Unfortunately the room service menu did not have any authentic Gujarati dishes so I had to settle for some ubiquitous Punjabi fare for lunch. Thankfully the rest of my gastronomic experience in Ahmadabad was much better than that lunch.
Gujarat’s most famous culinary export must be the Dhokla. And any trip to Gujarat will be incomplete without a taste of local Dhokla. You may wonder how different can a Dhokla be in Gujarat. While this is true in general, I did have a pleasant surprise.
There was a small roadside eatery on Ashram Road (opp. Damji Hotel). During my evening exploration of the city, I ventured to this joint and ordered Dhokla. While the main Dhokla itself was standard stuff the real attraction was the accompanying Kadi. Instead of the red-green chutney, they served Dhokla with Kadi and that is supposed to be the traditional style. And believe me that Kadi was something to die for. I could not resist multiple helping since it went so well with the Dhokla.
Gujarati Thali is symbolic of the wide ranging delicacies of this region. So the grand finale for my trip, right before I left for the airport, was a huge Thali at Sasuji Dining Hall on CG Road. As I walked from Ashram Road all the way to the Dining hall, I enjoyed another gorgeous Gujarati Lassi near Income Tax underpass. I think the place was called Sri Krishna Lassi Bar.
The Thali at Sasuji Dining Hall is huge with a good variety of farsan and the usual mix of Gujarati sabzis. The main selling point was the quality of the food as well as the taste. All items looked fabulous and tasted superb.
It was a perfect ending for a great trip to Gujarat. For vegetarians this state has so many culinary delights to offer. The wide choice of delicacies I experienced was all from a small part of the state. I did not even venture into Kathiawar and its famous Thali, nor did I explore the coastal areas. Every foodie must travel throughout this state and enjoy every bit Gujarati food that this state has to offer.