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Cuisines of Gujarat

Gujarati cuisine is delightfully delicious, almost strictly vegetarian, served traditionally on large silver or stainless steel platters, to the accompaniment of rice and a variety of wheat breads. So varied and palate-pleaning is the choice, one turns vegetarian out of preference. A wide range of seasonal vegetables, a judicious use of spices and herbs, and a light touch make authentic Gujarati cuisine a gourmet's delight. Gujarati snacks or 'farsans' are delicious. Theses crisp, spicy fried snacks can be bought in shops and wayside stalls everywhere. Gujarti vegetarian restaurants (lodges) serve traditional meals in most towns and western style food is available in larger cities.

Some common dishes includes Khaman Dhokla, a salty steamed cake, made from chickpea flour, Doodhpak, a sweet thickened milk confection with nuts, Amras(mango juice), a seasonal delicacy available in the summer, Sev-Ganthia, a variety of farsan or crunchy fried snacks made from chickpea flour, Paunk, a winter spiciality of Surat that blends the sweet and the spicy, made of tender roasted cereal,jowar, mixed with sev (crunches), savoury twists, garlic chutney and sugar balls. Others include Kadhi, a savoury curry made of yoghurt and fried puffs flavoured with bay leaves, ginger, chillies and finely chopped vegetables, eaten hot with fragrant rice.

Undhyoo, a winter delicacy in which dish includes, roasting potatoes, sweet potatoes, broad beans, and aborigines in an earthenware pot buried in the ground with a fire lit above, the flavour enhanced with oil and green chilly chutney. Srikhand, a dessert made of yoghurt, flavoureed with saffron, cardamom, nuts, candied fruit, eaten with round hot fluffy poories.

Gharis, a rich, round sweet made of condensed milk, clarified butter and dry fruits, a speciality of Surat; and Sutar Pheni, extremely fine vermicelli cooked in sweet rounds.

It is surprising to know that Saurashtra with its vast stretches of dry earth has sugarcane, wheat, millet, peanuts, and sesame native to this region. Hence pulses dominate Kathiawari food and sweetmeats made of gur (jaggery). This region has a delicious variety of pickles.

Kathiawari favourites include debras  made with wheat flour mixed with spinach, green chillies, a dollop of yogurt and a pinch of salt and sugar, these are eaten with Chhundo (a hot and sweet shredded mango pickle) Yet another specialty of this region is Methia Masala, a dry powder made from fenugreek seeds, chilly powder and salt. This is liberally sprinkled over raw vegetables and salads and gives the food an especially piquant flavour.

Phafda, an omum flavoured assorted flour puri is another Kathiawari favourite.

Kutchi cuisine is relatively simple. It consists of Khichdi, the main dish eaten with Kadhi - a savoury curry made of yoghurt. Some common dishes include Khaman Dhokla, a salty steamed cake, Doodhpak, a sweet, thickened milk confectionery and Shrikhand, dessert made of yoghurt, flavoured with saffron, cardamom, nuts and candied fruit which is eaten with hot, fluffy pooris.

In comparison to the dry region of Saurashtra, Southern Gujarat is blessed with plenty of rainfall. Green vegetables and plenty of fruit therefore dominate Surati food.

There are no elaborate preparations made, no expensive ingredients used and yet the food in its utter simplicity, tastes exotically different.

Popular items include a delicious vegetable concoction called Undhyoo and Paunk, a tangy delicacy.

Surat is also famous for its bakery items like the nankhatais, gharis and the saglu baglu mithai, which are easily available in the city's bakeries and confectionery shops.

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