Gujarati cuisine is the cuisine of the Indian state of Gujarat.
The typical Gujarati thali consists of rotli, dal or curry, rice, and shaak (a dish made up of several different combinations of vegetables and spices, which may be either spicy or sweet). The thali will also include preparations made from pulses or whole beans (called kathor in Gujarati) such as moong, black eyed beans etc., a snack item (farsaan) like dhokla, pathra, samosa, fafda, etc. and a sweet (mishthaan) like mohanthal, jalebi, doodh pak etc. Gujarati cuisine varies widely in flavour and heat, depending on a family's tastes as well as the region of Gujarat to which they belong. North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, Central Gujarat and South Gujarat are the five major regions of Gujarat that contribute their unique touch to Gujarati cuisine. Many Gujarati dishes are distinctively sweet, salty, and spicy simultaneously.
Despite easy access to plentiful seafood, Gujarat is primarily a vegetarian state. Many communities such as Koli Patel, Ghanchi, Muslim communities and Parsi, however, do include seafood, chicken and mutton in their diet.
Staples include homemade khichdi (rice and lentils or rice and mung beans), chaas (buttermilk), and pickles as side. Main dishes are based on steam cooked vegetables with different spices and dals that are added to a vaghar, which is a mixture of spices heated in oil that varies depending on the main ingredients. Salt, sugar, lemon, lime, and tomatoes are used frequently to prevent dehydration in an area where temperatures reach 50 °C (122 °F) in the shade. It is common to add a little sugar or jaggery to some of the vegetable dishes and dal, which enhances the slightly bland taste of the vegetables.
Gujarati Thali, a variety filled traditional dish served in Gujarat
The cuisine changes with the seasonal availability of vegetables. In summer, when mangoes are ripe and widely available in the market, for example, Keri no Ras (fresh mango pulp) is often an integral part of the meal. The spices used also change depending on the season. Garam masala and its constituent spices are used less in summer. Regular fasting, with diets limited to milk, dried fruits, and nuts, is commonplace.
In modern times, some Gujaratis have become increasingly fond of very spicy and fried dishes. There are many chefs who have come up with fusions of Western and Gujarati food. Gujaratis are predominantly vegetarians, even though pockets of the state consume chicken, eggs and fish.
Flat bread prepared with Bajra has nutritional value similar to other foods based on flours. Common meals in villages near Saurashtra during the cold winters consists of thick rotis, called "rotla" made of bajra flour (pearl millet flour) and "bhakri" made of wheat flour, garlic chutney, onion, and chaas.
Sweets (desserts) served as part of a thali are typically made from milk, sugar, and nuts. "Dry" sweets such as magas and ghooghra are typically made around celebrations, such as weddings, or at Diwali.
Gujarati cuisine is also distinctive in its wide variety of farsan — side dishes that complement the main meal and are served alongside it. Some farsan are eaten as snacks or light meals by themselves.
Gujaratis will often refer to dal-bhat-rotli-saak as their everyday meal. For special occasions, this basic quartet is supplemented with additional shaak, sweet dishes, and farsan. A festive Gujarati thali often contain over a dozen items. Dietary rules restrict the permissible combination of dishes. For example, if kadhi is to be served, then a lentil preparation such as chutti dal, vaal, or mug ni dal will also be included. The sweet dish accompanying kadhi will likely be milk or yogurt–based, like doodhpak or shrikhand. However, a yogurt-based raita would not be served with such a meal. Festive meals based on dal will typically have a wheat-based sweet dish like lapsi or ladoo as the sweet accompaniment. Many Gujarati families make and consume moong dal in their diet on Wednesdays. There are established combinations of spices that some believe to facilitate digestion, that are eaten with different foods.
Gujarati thali is sometimes seen as being "no-frills" even though it can be elaborate. India's current prime minister, Narendra Modi has often arranged Gujarati food for his special overseas guests like Shinzo Abe or Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa Modi himself has been said to prefer Khichdi. even when visiting overseas, something that opposing politicians sometimes mocked.
Gujarati cuisine varies in flavour and other aspects from region to region. One can notice that food from Surat, Kutch, Kathiawad and North Gujarat are the most distinct ones. Tastes also differ according to family preferences. Most popular Gujarati dishes have a sweet taste, as traditionally, sugar or jaggery is added to most Gujarati food items, like vegetables and dal. Additionally, Gujarati food is cooked in unique ways, with some dishes being stir-fried while others are steam cooked, with vegetables and spices or dal being boiled and later vaghar/chaunk (fried spices) being added to it to enhance the flavour.
Undhiyu: A mixed vegetable casserole that is traditionally cooked upside down underground in earthen pots fired from above. This dish is usually made of the vegetables that are available on the South Gujarat coastline during the winter season, including (amongst others) green beans, unripe banana, muthia, and purple yam. These are cooked in a spicy curry that sometimes includes coconut. Surti Undhiyu is a variant that is served with puri at weddings and banquets. Again it is a mixed vegetable casserole, made with red lentils and seasoned with spices, grated coconut, and palm sugar in a mild sauce. It is garnished with chopped peanuts and toasted grated coconut, and served with rice or roti. This dish is very popular all over Gujarat, and most Gujarati families eat it at least once a year on Makar Sankranti.