Gujarati | Recipes | Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

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Gujarati cuisine is predominantly vegetarian and fairly simple. Pulses, dals and grains are used in abundance. Though Gujarat has a long coastline and an almost endless supply of fish and shellfish, most people there follow Jainism. And according to the strict dictates of the religion eating of non-vegetarian food is prohibited. Perhaps that is one reason why Gujaratis have perfected the art of vegetarian cooking. With the simplest of ingredients they churn out the most delicious dishes and there is a vast variety of this. Cooking revolves around the availability of ingredients.

Western Gujarat or Saurashtra is dry and fresh vegetables are hard to come by. Fortunately the peninsula’s mixed farming accounts for plentiful dairy products and therefore the food here is simple yet nutritious and wholesome. Scarcity of fresh vegetables has resulted in a lot of pickling and usage of dehydrated vegetables. Central Gujarat, that is Ahmedabad and Kheda, is the granary of Gujarat with a majority of its people being engaged in farming of food grains. As a result their cuisine is based a lot on rice, dals, millets and the like. The Surat region receives good rainfall and as a result there are plenty of green vegetables, orchards of mangoes, bananas, chickoo and grapefruit. The people here are gourmets who enjoy good food. Great care is taken of the appearance as well as on the taste of the dishes. A vast repertoire of bakery confections and several other sweetmeats leave the food lovers licking their fingers and asking for more. Khojas, form a larger part of the Muslim community in Gujarat, have an exotic cuisine, mainly non-vegetarian but distinctly different from the popular Moghlai food. Again, though it does have some Gujarati influences, it is different. While asafoetida or hing is an integral ingredient of Gujarati food it is totally absent from the Khoja food whereas hara masala is added to practically every other dish. The cuisine of Gujarat is also largely modeled around festivals, occasions and weather.

Gujarati dishes have so much to offer in terms of taste, presentation and cooking techniques. A typical meal consists of rotli or bread made with wheat flour or millet flour, a shaak or a vegetable dish, dal, rice, a glass of buttermilk and a sweet dish. One common thing in most recipes from this area is that they all have a slight tinge of sweet in them – this is because jaggery is used in several Gujarati preparations. Snacks are as important in a Gujarati household as main meals like lunch and dinner. Gujarati cuisine also largely depends on the season with different recipes for winter and summers. While most of the food is steamed and is healthy, some of the items are deep fried. Khakhras and theplas are fairly healthy and are now easily available at shops across India and even abroad. With all aspects of nutrition - carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals from chapatti, rice, vegetables and pulses, salads and sweets, dairy products, Gujarati food offers some very healthy combinations. Have a full Gujarati meal and your all six senses of taste are satisfied. 

Cuisine specials

Dhokla: This gram flour based snack is so popular, that it is often used as a synonym to address Gujaratis. A fermented batter of gram flour is steamed and then tempered with some spices. This sweet, spicy and salty snack can be eaten anytime of the day.

Fafda: These are crunchy, deep fried long strips of a spiced gram flour based dough, that are the most popular breakfast item in Gujarat. They are often served with a chutney and some jalebis.

Undhiyo: Made with a mixture of many season vegetables and deep fried gram flour balls called ganthia, this recipe is a winter special in every Gujarati household.

Khandvi: It is a savoury pinwheel snack that is made with a mixture of gram flour and yogurt and then tempered with sesame and mustard seeds, garnished with a sprinkling of coriander and coconut.

Doodhi na Muthia: Dumplings made with grated bottle gourd, gram flour, wheat flour and a bunch of interesting spices. These can be eaten as a snack or an accompaniment to a meal.

Thepla: These are very similar to a roti, only that they are made with an addition of fresh fenugreek leaves and spices. Eaten normally with a sweet grated mango pickle or chutney called chhunda.

Dal Dhokli: This is a complete meal in itself. Flat pieces of spiced flour dumplings called dhokli, much like a roti, are allowed to soak up in a thick sweet spicy dal.

Sev Tameta nu Shaak: This is a dish that is made with tomatoes and sev, thin strands of deep fried gram flour. The sev soaks up the flavours of the delicious tomato based curry, which goes great with rice and rotis!

Osaman: A watery thin, but packed with flavours and nutrition dal recipe from Gujarat.

Mohanthaal: A rich gram flour burfi, with the crunch of dried fruits in every bite. 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.