No trip is worth if the taste of the local cuisine is not more strong and linger longer than the memories of site seeing.
My friend Jyo and myself recently visited the Kutch, Gujart ,India.Food people and places were the preference sequences on our list.
The moment we landed in Bhuj airport, i was like , “Feed me!” The cold breeze had ignited the digestive fire even more.
Aziz our driver for the rest of the trip was awaiting for us with the car. As told to him and as all tourists prefer, he drove us to the Hotel Prince one of the famous and preferred hotel in Bhuj. “Madam, Idali Dosa se Sandwich sab milega yaha,” Aziz informed us. Me and Jyo looked at each other with disappointment and told him to drive us to the bus stand where the local thelas (small shops ) catersome real local food. He seemed very happy to do so. What a decision to do so.
1.Hot fresh gathiya/phafda (local fried dish made from Bengal gram flour) served with unripe papaya salad and the even more hot fresh and crispy Jalebis got justice from the Pune girls.
Unriped papaya salad with farsan and gathiya is unique in Gujrat. The unripe papaya possess the appetite increasing properties and also decreases the possibilities of indigestion and flatulence(bloating in stomoch) due to the fried and heavy farsaan /phapda/bhujiya/gathiya
Jalebis were the nourishing beautiful juicy rings and a heavenly treat for the sweet lovers like us. Though the stomachs were stuffed we couldn’t resist ourselves to visit the hot tiny Puris and Shaak(potato curry) stall.The taste was amazing and replenishing. We made sure to pack some Jalebis with us so that whenever our stomachs got slightest of the vacant place we can stuff them again.(Yeah the diet etiquette mode was off and every Apathya was welcome while on trip)
So hot Gathiya/Phafda/Jalebi and Puri shaak on the local stalls is a must try especially in early morning.
2. Dabeli and chaat: They say the famous Kutchhi Dabeli was invented in The Mandvi. village, Bhuj, Kutch.It is famously known as roti in Kutch.So after visiting the glorious Vijay Vilas Palace we found nothing that will make us stay on much crowed and unfortunately littered beach of Mandvi . One of our friends in Bhuj had told us to head to the Azaad chauk in Manadvi. The street or chauk dedicated to the street food and chat has a huge line of decorated and LED lit small shops on wheels or taparis in our own marathi language.
Confused which one to visit first ,we preferred to sit at a tea stall , sip on lovely masala tea and discuss our plan of action on mission food. To let the fire for food burn little more we walked in the lanes.The combination of almost full moon on the backdrop of Masjid, the crowd enjoying food on street with families on the night of Ramjaan Id and the constant synchronized movements of the stall vendors preparing chat endless was enjoyable to watch for us as we were in no hurry for anything.
First we munched on Tanatan kadak chat . We found the name too funny as well as tempting. The crispy Jeera(cumin) toast were broke into small pieces to make a wonderful tangy spicy chat. Then there was crispy Cone stuffed with the layers of Dabeli masala subji ,onion and Sev ,Pomegranate seeds.It was fantastic and something new for us.Then finally we had Dabeli and yes it was good. Before we reach our car with full stomach a Dahi Bhalla/Vada stall caught out attention. Tempting display made us buy one plate of Dahi Vada. It was delicious. We were happy that instead of having a dinner at any conventional place we opted for these food lanes.
3.Kutchie family meal: Next day in village Hodko we were totally disappointed with the lunch offered at our resort.When we talked to the guys in kitchen and told about our disappointment, one of the guy without any hesitation invited us to dine with his family somewhere near in the village.There was no reason to deny as we were awaiting for the opportunity to meet Kutch people , experience them closely.
After watching the mesmerizing moon rise in white ran of Kutch we reached our resort. To our surprise the same guy was waiting for us and he drove us to his hut. A bunch of beautifully decorated clean 3-4 Bhungas (mud huts ) built in circular manner with dry wooden stick compound around was the only habitat there.Full moon night was making that place more pretty. The whole family of 10-11 people was waiting for us for dinner.Sitting in the yard in moonlight with the ladies in family serving us the fresh hot bajra roti and pouring the ghee like daal was beyond words as i am a ghee lover. This was what we were wishing in Kutch.Eating the authentic Kutchhie kadhi was the best part the dinner. Ghee jaggery on bajra roti was nothing less than any dessert.
Guys when in Kutch do try to spend time and at least one meal with the locals. Hey let me mention it was a warm treat to us and the people didn’t charge us for the same. We will never forget this love.
4. Bhiradiyara ka khoya/mava : Sweets were the best part of Kutch food. The fresh khoya /mava/ condensed dried milk on the road in village Bhiradiyara is beyond words. The purity taste and the quality is super. You will find many shops there ,just go to anyone of them sit on the chaarpai (wooden bench/bed) and feast on the bowl of khoya/mava. Do not forget to pack some of it for the people back in home. The mava will stay fresh till 5 to 8 days due to the less moisture in it.I am still munching on it while typing.
5. Khavda sweets ..bas nam hi kafi hai: For the sweet lovers the place is nothing less than temple.The sweets made up from purest khoya, milk ,cream,ghee with generous use of dried fruits, rose petals are the bold features of the sweets. A huge range of sweets make you shop till you drop. Following sweets are must buy
- Shahi gulabpak
- Winter special gond khajur(resin and dates paak )
- Kutchie Pedha
- Khavda mesuk
Find the Khavda sweets on the hospital road in Bhuj.
6. Gujrathi Thali: How can a trip to Gujrat state will be complete if you don’t eat the authentic local thali. The same hotel we ran away from on day one was turned out the fantastic one for the gujju Thali. Trust me don’t miss it.
The food i found here is well suited to the weather and geographical needs. The abundance of milk, ghee,butter have influence on the local cuisine and eating habits too. The dry weather over there demand for more calories and lipids (fats) and sweet taste too. To balance the extra calories and fat Bajra roti ,buttermilk can been seen consumed wisely by the locals.