Rituals of the Gujarati Meal

Komal with Gujarati thali
Komal with Gujarati thali

       Gujarati meals are meant to be vegetarian, ohne fleisch und eier! Now that you have flown the nest, the fact that you were truly vegetarians all your young life will probably feel like a different lifetime. Whenever you return to the family dining table (Amar is probably yelling, ‘everyday nowadays’), the enthusiasm that you eat with, shows me that the spicy vegetarian taste is still in your psyche! The gujarati meals are very specific to the region and also to each household as you will have noticed when eating at any of our other relatives. The Indian curry of the U.K. is an amalgamation of the western taste. There is no such thing as a basic Indian meal. The cuisine throughout India is extremely varied. Take the example of my stay in Pune, state of Maharashtra. Hoping to get right into the local life, I decided to hire a cook. Unfortunately this arrangement only lasted 3 months! The cook’s Maharashtran cooking style just did not agree with Ba. When it got to the stage of my spending time to put out all the ingredients required for the cooking, I relieved the cook of her duties!

Each typical gujarati meal should have

  1. bread(rotli, puri, bhakri. રોટલી, પૂરી, ભાખરી),
  2. green vegetables(shaak શાક),
  3. a liquid portion(kadhi, daal,  mug. કઢી, દાળ, મગ) and
  4. rice(bhaat ભાત).

One idiosyncrasy of our community (charotar patels) is that kadhi, કઢી, is always accompanied by a protein rich cooked dry daal like choda ચોળા, mug મગ(split or whole), split tuver તુવેર daal, vaal વાલ(split or whole), etc. Another ‘rule’ that you might not have grasped is that the liquid portion of the meal dictates the choice of green vegetables (શાક). So bhinda, undhiyu, vaalor, matar/ringad(peas/aubergine), turiya, posho usually accompany khadhi. Again for the side condiments only roasted Papdi (made from rice flour) would be served with kadhi. In the case of gujarati daal, ghiloda, suran, karela, are the preferred vegetables (શાક). Also dahi (yogurt) and the side condiment of roasted papad (made from urad flour) should always accompany this daal. A variation to plain dahi are the different varieties of raita.

For a more elaborate or a festive meal;

  • a savoury(farsan ફરસાણ) and
  • a sweet(mishtaan મિષ્ટાન) are also added.

The greater the variety of vegetables(shaak) the more elaborate the meal. A dinner party at MayaAuntys will have anywhere between 10 and 15 shaaks. Another ritual of the gujarati meal is that the savoury and sweet are all served together and the rice is served at the end.

There are always the side condiments to think about: Papad પાપડ, papdi પાપડી, yogurt દહીં, pickles અથાણા, and salads.

Below is a list of few menus that constitute a typical gujarati meal.

a)Gujarati daal, bhaat, rotli and shaak. દાળ, ભાત, રોટલી અને શાક. Particular combination of shaaks: ghiloda ગીલોડા, ringan +bateta, રીંગણ અને બટેટા, karela કારેલા, or valor+ringan, વાલોર અને રીંગણ. Papad, પાપડ and yogurt or રાઈતુ are always served with this daal.

b)Kadhi, bhaat, choda, rotli and shaak. કઢી, ભાત, ચોળા, રોટલી અને શાક. With kadhi કઢી the particular combination of shaaks are : bhinda ભીંડા, bateta બટેટા, turia તુરીએ, fresh tuver+ringan તુવેર રીંગણ or any variety of fresh green beans. Papdi પાપડી always goes well with kadhi કઢી.

c)Mug, bhaat, rotli and shaak. મગ, ભાત, રોટલી અને શાક. Here the shaak variety can be: posho પોષો(green beans), cauliflower or shredded cabbage. Yogurt and papad પાપડ also go well with mug મગ.

d)Mixed daal, bhaat, rotli(or even rotla) and shaak. રસાવાડી દાળ, ભાત, રોટલી અથવા રોટલો અને શાક. Variety of shaak: bhaji+paneer ભાજી પનીર, cabbage+peas or ringan રીંગણ alone, plus yogurt and papad પાપડ.

e)Whole saucy adad, thick rotli and shaak. અડદ, જાડી રોટલી, અને શાક. For the shaak: any green vegetable with dumplings (muthdi  મૂઢડી). As with most saucy lentils, yogurt and papad પાપડ.

f)For the typical Sunday meal, the gujarati combination is : khichdi, kadhi, dry bateta shaak or dungree(onion) +vadio shaak, ખીચડી, કઢી, સુક્કુ બટેટા અથવા ડુંગરી વળીઓ નુ શાક. Together with papadi પાપડી and a salad of sliced tomatos and onions dressed  with lemon juice, salt and cumin powder.

Perhaps you can add to this combination list from your past experience.

Happy cooking.

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