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Gujarati Cuisine

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Gujrat - Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Gujrati Cuisine HistoryEdit

Gujarati cuisine (Gujarati: ગુજરાતી ભોજન) refers to the cuisine of the Gujaratis from India, who are predominant in western-India. It is primarily vegetarian. The typical Gujarati Thali consists of Roti (a flat bread made from wheat flour, and called rotli in Gujarati), daal or kadhi, rice, and sabzi/shaak (a dish made up of different combinations of vegetables and spices, which may be stir fried, spicy or sweet). Cuisine can vary widely in flavor and heat, depending on a given family's tastes as well as the region of Gujarat they are from. North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, and South Gujarat are the four major regions of Gujarat that all bring their own style to Gujarati food. Many Gujarati dishes are distinctively sweet, salty, and spicy at the same time.

Trying out Gujrati cuisine is an adventure even though there foods such as meats are not commonly cooked in this cuisine. However, there is still much to explore with regard to the other food substances used.

Over the years, Gujrati cuisine has brought with it many traditional and simple dishes. Thee have been known for a long time, and their methods of preparation have hardly changed. They require simple techniques employed that were practiced many years ago. Those who are keen to follow a good diet or are religious and want to restrict themselves tend to use Gujrati cuisine.

Though seafood has been popular in India throughout history, there is minimum use of it in Gujrati food in contrast to the focus on vegetables and lentils used.

In addition to vegetables and lentils being used over the years, rice is one of the staple foods in Gujrat. It has been traditionally or historically used in Gujrati cuisine as well. Main course meals tend to have a bit of fish and chicken in banquets. This is to include a wider variety and demonstrate celebration.

Over the years, Gujrati cuisine has focused on its use of spices, and quantities of salt and oil used. This cuisine tends to use a minimum of these in order to produce simple dishes that taste good too. Through this practice, one can say that Gujrati cuisine has proven that in order for a dish to be tasty it does not need to be loaded with spices and salt or for that matter it does not even need meats and the like.

Staples include homemade pickles, Khichdi (rice and lentil or rice and mung bean daal), and chhaas (buttermilk). Main dishes are based on steamed vegetables and daals that are added to a vaghaar, which is a mixture of spices sterilized in hot oil that varies depending on the main ingredient. Salt, sugar, lemon, lime, and tomato are used frequently to prevent dehydration in an area where temperatures reach 50C (120F) under the shade. It is common to add a little sugar or jaggery to some of the sabzi/shaak and daal. The sweet flavour of these dishes is believed to neutralize the slightly salty taste of the water.

The cuisine changes with the seasonal availability of vegetables. In mango season, 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 and dried fruits, and nuts, are 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.

A very healthy meal popular in the villages near Saurashtra during the cold winters consists of thick Rotis, termed Bhakhri, made of Wheat flour, garlic chutney, onion pieces and Buttermilk. It is a good source of energy which suits low-income villagers working on their fields in the cold days.

Sweets (desserts) made from such ingredients as local sugar cane, jaggery (a solid made from unrefined cane sugar), milk, almonds, and pistachios were originally served at weddings and family occasions as an instant energy booster for relations travelling long distances to attend. These days, sweets to be served as part of a Thali are more 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 in their own right.

Gujaratis will often refer to Daal-Bhaat (rice)-Rotli-Shaak as their standard, no-frills, everyday fare. For special occasions, this basic quartet is supplemented with additional shaak, sweet dishes and Farsan. A festive Gujarati Thali can easily contain a dozen or more separate items. Dietary rules dictate the acceptable combination of dishes. For example, if kadhi is to be served, then a lentil preparation such as chutti daal or vaal will also be included. The sweet dish acompanying 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 daal will typically have a wheat-based sweet dish like lapsi or ladu as the sweet accompaniment. Similarly, there are established combinations of spices, thought to facilitate digestion, that are used with different foods.

With so much variety in vegetarian food, the Indian British cookbook writer Madhur Jaffrey has termed Gujarati cuisine as "the haute cuisine of vegetarianism" in 'Flavours of India', one of her TV shows about Indian food. Yet, Gujarati food remains relatively unknown outside Gujarat, despite the Gujaratis being "one of the important regional Indian diasporic communities...Gujaratis, the people from the central western parts of India, are one of the early Indian communities who have ventured out to different parts of the world for multiple reasons. Today, as one of the prominent Indian diasporic communities in the world, Gujaratis are successful not only in business, which is their first love, but also in professional fields such as technology, science, medicine, and business management."[1]

Some of the more popular Gujarati dishes are mentioned below.

List of Gujarati dishesEdit

Breads

Rice

  • Plain rice
  • Pulao ( Rice with vegetable )
  • Khichdi ( Rice & Dal cooked in a porridge style )

Vegetables Shaak (Subzi/Vegetables/Curries)

  • Undhiyu, a combination of eggplant, tubers, slow cooked with special spices traditionally in a clay pot
  • Sev Tameta nu Shaak (Sev Tomato Curry)
  • Bateta nu Shaak (Potato Curry)[2]
  • Bateta Sukhi Bhaji (Dry Potato Curry)
  • Ringan nu Shaak (Eggplant Curry)
  • Dudhi nu Shaak (Bottle Gourd or Squash Curry)
  • Ganthiya nu Shaak
  • Guavar nu Shaak
  • Tindola nu Shaak
  • Bhinda nu Shaak (Okra Curry)
  • Kobi Bataka nu Shaak ( Cabbage Potato vegetable )
  • Dudhi Mag ni Dal nu Shaak
  • Dudhi Ganthia nu shaak
  • Dudhi Bataka nu rasawalu shaak ( Bottle Gourd & Potato curry in a gravy )
  • Chola nu Shaak ( lentil curry )
  • Mag-Math nu Shaak ( lentil curry )
  • Mag nu Suku Shaak ( dry Mung curry )
  • Tameta Bataka nu Rasawalu Shaak ( Tomato Potato gravy vegetable )
  • Kantola nu Shaak ( one type of slight bitter tasting vegetable )
  • Karela nu Shaak ( Bittergourd vegetable )
  • Ringna no Oolo ( meshed Eggplant curry )
  • Methi nu Shaak
  • Parwal Bateta nu Shaak
  • Fansi nu Shaak ( French beans vegetable )
  • Palak Bateka or Palak Paneer nu Shaak
  • Suva ni Bhaji nu Shaak
  • Kanda Bateka nu Shaak ( Onion Potato vegetable )
  • Gajar no Sambharo ( Stirred Carrot vegetable )
  • Fansi ma Dhokli nu Shaak ( delectable combination of French beans and spiced dumplings )
  • Panchkutiyu Shaak ( Five vegetables curry )


Farsan (Side Dishes)

"Nasto" (Deep fried snack foods made with besan/gram or a similar type of flour)

  • Sev
  • Ghanthia
  • Chakri
  • Khakhra
  • Cholafali
  • Mathia

Daal (Soups)

  • Moong Daal
  • Meethi (Sweet) Kadhi

Mithai (Sweets)

  • Sutarfeni
  • Kansar
  • Halvasan
  • Malpua
  • Keri no ras
  • Basundi
  • Ghari (sweet from Surat)
  • Ghebar or Ghevar (sweet from Surat)
  • Son Papdi
  • Magas (or Magaj)
  • Sukhadi
  • Mohanthal
  • Gud papdi (Gol papdi)
  • Penda
  • Barfi
  • Ladu
  • Shiro, roasted semolina/flour/dal with milk, butter, sugar, nuts and raisins
  • Ghooghra
  • Jalebi
  • Shrikhand, a thick yogurt-based sweet dessert garnished with ground nuts, cardamom, and saffron
  • Laapsi, coarse ground/ broken wheat cooked with butter and sugar
  • Doodhpak, a milk-based sweet dessert with nuts
  • Shakkarpara, a deep fried snack made out of sugar and wheat
  • Copra Paak - Coconut halwa/barfi: Halwa is soft, barfi more like cake
  • Gajar Halwo - Carrot Halwa
  • Dudhi no Halwo - Bottle Gourd Halwa
  • Gur - unrefined brown sugar sold in blocks[3]

Indian Food Glossary Edit

Finding the ingredients for an Gujrati Recipe is not so easy when you do not know the names of the ingredients. Take time to make a list of ingredients and the name they may be found under at the Local Markets.

Preparation Methods for Gujrati Cooking Edit

Cooking methods and methods of preparation in Gujrati cuisine are vital in order to influence the end result of a Gujrati dish. Gujrati cooking does not utilize meats. Chicken and fish too are hardly used. Gujrati cuisine is mostly a vegetarian cuisine as a result. Nevertheless it is a delightful cuisine and is one in which you get to cook several kinds of lentils, pulses and vegetables. Indeed, with these basic food substances, Gujrati cuisine is said to be a healthy and simple one.

In Gujrati cuisine, processes such as marinating or seasoning meats are not required at all. However, soaking of lentils, pulses and rice is common in order to soften the grains.

Grinding of spices is commonly carried out in Gujrati cuisine. Prepared spices are normally not used, as these dishes seem to look and taste better with ground spices. Oil is also not used much. Spice and oil are both kept at a minimum in Gujrati cuisine. Therefore, it can be said that this cuisine is healthy to follow.

Recipes in Gujrati cuisine are easy to follow and are simple too. Making almost any kind of dal is easy too. You may have to wait till lentils are soaked so that they soften though. Once that small process is over and done with cooking is not tedious. Cooking vegetables is also simple. Methods are not intricate either, and it is pretty easy to master Gujrati cooking methods too.

Regarding the actual preparation methods employed in Gujrati cuisine, it can be asserted that these preparations are hardly different to other cuisines that cook the same vegetables or lentils. The idea basically is to use the correct amount of oil and spice that Gujrati cuisine tastes best with. Therefore, it is not a difficult cuisine to master after some practice.

Special Equipment for Gujrati Cooking Edit

In order to cook dishes in Gujrati cuisine, you need to have all the necessary know how. Having the right kinds utensils or equipment is important Gujrati dishes. If not, the dish you set out to make might not come out the way it should.

Basically, you should have just one or two deep boiling vessels for boiling rice and other foods. Rice need only be boiled in one utensil. The taste of your rice when you boil it next will not be the same if you boil anything else in it, as oily residue from curries or other foods will be left in the rice utensil.

Having to remove oily residue is not a problem, it is the taste that could change because of the residue that is off greater concern.

You also need boiling vessels for lentils and pulses. Since using the same utensil for boiling these foods does not make much difference, you could have one common one, though it is more convenient when you have a couple more to boil other foods simultaneously.

In addition to these cooking vessels, you would also require pans for frying. This is important because of the fact that a lot of things need to be fried in Gujrati cuisine, the masalas and even some of the lentils and vegetables too.

Aside from the above-required cooking equipment, it can be said that you also need strainers, drainers and stirring spoons. Strainer spoons are handy, as they are porous, and help in separating solid portions of gravies.

In addition to the above, a tawa is very important for frying chapatti and roti of different kinds.

In Gujrati cuisine it can be observed that there are so many utensils that are required in order to cook a meal properly.

Gujrati Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

Gujrati cuisine is thought to be one of the healthiest cuisines. This is because of the fact that it is almost a vegetarian cuisine. Nearly all the foods ignore meats, and they are mostly made from lentils, pulses and vegetables. This surely makes interesting eating, as there a great number of people who survive with this cuisine, and also enjoy the unique and delicious taste of Gujrati food.

Indeed, in Gujrati cuisine, there are variations because of the different kinds of taste in different areas of Gujrat. In North Gujrat, the traditional Gujarati thali is popular. It is a dish consisting of rice, dal, sprouted beans, curry, vegetables, farsan, pickles, chutney and raita. North Gujrati food is not very oily or spicy. Farsans come in three varieties: Pathara, Khaman Dhokla, and Khandvi.

In Kathiawad, it quite surprising to learn that Saurashtra in spite of its dry earth has millet, peanuts, sugarcane, wheat, and sesame. Therefore, pulses are popular in Kathiawari food. In addition to these foods, this region is known for its delicious variety of pickles. Among Kathiawari favorites are debras that is made from a mixture of wheat flour and spinach, green chillies, a dollop of yogurt and a bit of salt and sugar. This is consumed with Chhundo. Another favorite in this region is Methia Masala. This is a dry powder made from chilly powder, fenugreek seeds, and salt. This masala is sprinkled over uncooked vegetables and salads.

Phafda is an omum flavored flour puri, which is another Kathiawari favourite.

Kutchi regional cuisine is quite simple, and consists of Khichdi, which the main dish consumed with Kadhi. Kadhi is a curry made of yoghurt. Other common dishes include Khaman Dhokla, which is a salty steamed cake, Doodhpak, which is a sweet, thickened milk confectionery, and Shrikhand, which is a dessert made of yoghurt, flavored with saffron, nuts, cardamom and candied fruit. This is popular at festivals and traditional celebrations.

Since South Gujarat has plenty of rainfall, and this is the reason why there is no shortage of green vegetables and fruit. Fruits and fresh vegetables are also common in Surati food as a result. It also must be asserted that these foods prepared are common at festive occasions, and even though there are no extensive preparations. Among the popular items here at festival times are Undhyoo and Paunk. Surat is known for its bakery items like gharis, nankhatais, and the saglu baglu mithai.

With the wide variety available, it is no wonder why Gujrati cuisine is so well liked even though it is quite simple and does not have many meat dishes.

People in Gujrati Food Edit

  • Are you into Gujrati Cooking and would like to be interviewed?

ReferencesEdit

  1. Issues of Identity in the Indian Diaspora: A Transnational Perspective
  2. http://thursdayfordinner.com/2009/06/indian-potato-curry-recipe Indian Potato Curry
  3. http://itdg.org/docs/technical_information_service/brown_sugar.pdf

External links Edit

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