Gujarati cuisine is a perfect representation of the culture of Gujarat: vibrant and varied; subtlety intertwined deftly with the bold; traditional evolving effortlessly into the more contemporary.
In Gujarati Cuisine, Asha Khatau, India’s leading vegetarian cookbook author, invites you to experience the true taste of Gujarat with recipes from her personal collection. Cook up a thali of Gujarati vegetarian delights such as Surti Undhiyu, Handvo, Panki, Thepla, varieties of Dal, Kadhi, Shaak; popular Farsan including Dhokla, Khandvi and Chevdo and typical Gujarati sweets such as Gol Papdi and Navratan Basundi. A special section on Farali food will convince you that a fast can be as good as a feast.
Asha Khatau needs no introduction to lovers of vegetarian food. Author of numerous cookbooks on Indian and international vegetarian food, with Gujarati Cuisine, Asha invites us into her personal kitchen and reveals the variety and depth of flavours in this celebrated vegetarian cuisine.
From spicy Kutchi to milder Surti, and cosmopolitan Ahmedabadi fare, Asha lays out a banquet of traditional and contemporary dishes which will delight the palate with their sometimes subtle, sometimes bold flavours, but more often than not with their keynote hint of sweetness.
Gujarati dishes on offer in this book include all the traditional favourites and a few more. Discover the delights of Cashew Puri Sandwich, Mohanthaal, Saat Dhaan ni Khichdi, Fajeto, Turia Patra nu Shaak, Trevati Dal na Dhokla, and a range of fasting foods including Rajgara na Thepla and Farali Kand No Handvo.
Asha Khatau is a well-known figure in the field of gourmet vegetarian cooking. After 20 years of experience in providing memorable meals to her family and friends, Asha was eventually persuaded to start her own cooking classes several years ago, which she runs under the name Epicure. These classes feature regional cuisines from all over the world. She has also conducted demonstrations in India and several countries abroad.
Asha Khatau’s first book Vegetarian Cuisines of the World was awarded the Best Vegetarian Book in the world, at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2002 in France. Delectable Desserts of the World, published in 2005, won Honourable Mention in the Best foreign Cookbook in the world category at the Gourmand awards in 2006. These Awards for food and wine books are considered to be the Oscars of the cookery world.
In March 2011, Aaha Khatau was honoured for an outstanding career in vegetarian cuisine at the Gourmand Awards Ceremony held in Paris. Asha also placed third among the Top Ten Authors/Chefs of the World.
Asha Khatau’s previous books in the Epicure Series:
• Vegetarian Cuisines of the World
• Vegetarian Chinese Cuisine
• Vegetarian Italian Cuisine
• Vegetarian Cuisines of India
• Delectable Desserts of the World
• Appetisers, Mocktails & Cocktails
• Exciting Vegetarian Cuisines of the World
Gujarati cuisine has proved to the world that vegetarian food can be both delicious and complex in flavour. It effortlessly combines the sweet, sour, and spicy to create a range of exceptional dishes.
While wheat, rice, millet (bajra), and sorghum (jowar) are the staples of Gujarati cuisine, ingredients like, groundnut, gram flour, yogurt, lime juice, and sugar or jaggery are the hallmarks of its flavours and textures. The range of spices used varies in terms of flavour, colour and aroma: from the nuttiness of cumin, pungency of asafoetida, and heat from chillies to the vibrant colour and earthy taste of turmeric. The spices may be dried or fresh, whole or ground, or fried in oil to intensify their flavours. A pinch of sugar or jaggery is often added to dals and vegetables to balance the flavours and ostensibly to counteract the natural saltiness of Gujarat's water.
Gujarati methods of cooking cover the entire gamut of cooking techniques from the deep-fried to the steamed, affording a delightful melange of tastes and textures all on one thali or platter, all courses being served at the same time in separate vati (small bowls).
A traditional meal consists of, rice or rotli, dal or kadhi, a few vegetables (shaak), pulses (kathol), salad, a pickle, chutney or relish, one or more of Gujarat's famed farsan - an extensive collection of any-time delicious snacks and dessert.
While the eating patterns are more or less the same, there are 4 distinct cooking styles in Gujarat, based largely on geographical and climatic conditions: Kathiawar, Surat, Ahmedabad and Kutch. The food of Kathiawar which is a part of Saurashtra, is distinguished by its chilli-hot, often garlicky flavours and a generous use of oil. Cereals like jowar and bajra grow in abundance in this region and naturally play a major role in the diet.
Surti food on the other hand is milder, with fewer spices and less oil. Vegetables and fruit grow in plenty in the well-watered region providing a variety of fresh produce for the table. It is also a simpler form of cooking, where fresh ingredients are lightly spiced and flash-cooked to retain their flavours and freshness. Undhiyu is the one dish that all Surtis are most proud of - a melange of winter vegetables and spices traditionally cooked in an earthen pot buried under a wood fire.
Ahmedabadi food is understandably more cosmopolitan, given its status as the capital of Gujarat. Its food has a distinct sweetness, which perhaps is responsible for the mistaken impression that all Gujarati food is sweet. Street food and farsan come into its own in this busy metropolis, with dhokla, khandvi, bhajiya etc. always available on the go.
Khichdi and kadhi are the mainstay of a Kutchi table, with buttermilk playing an important role at every meal. The food is not unlike its Surti counterpart: lightly spiced fresh greens and vegetables, cooked with the minimum oil and just a hint of sweetness. Osaman and puran poli served with kadhi are Kutchi favourites.
This collection of recipes is my way of showcasing the best of Gujarati cuisine, featuring traditional as well more contemporary fare. You will see that cooking Gujarati food is not a time-consuming process. The key to cooking a successful Gujarati dish is to read the recipe very carefully before beginning, to be sure that you have all the ingredients at hand and to use only the best and freshest ingredients.
Sample the vibrant colours that Gujarati food has to offer, and I am sure you will want to make it a part of your daily meals.
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