Nov 13, 2015
So you thought Gujarati food was all about dhoklas, theplas and undhiyo? It’s true that our familiarity with the cuisine is restricted to restaurants serving thalis. Moreover, your Gujarati friend is less likely to tell you about the nuances of something as rare as Kathiawari food.
As Pinky Chandan Dixit says, “It was for the same reason that we decided to open Soam, which caters to Gujarati food beyond thalis. I think breaking down the components of a typical thali and bringing unique recipes from across the state was much needed.” The owner of the south Mumbai restaurant has now introduced a seasonal menu*, which offers dishes from the Kathiawar region of the state.
A Taste of Kathiawar
It is a native cuisine to the Kathiawar peninsula in Gujarat, which comprises Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Surendranagar and Porbandar. Since the region is dry and green vegetables are unavailable for most part of the year, locals rely heavily on pulses and grains. Potatoes form an integral part in everyday cooking along with lots of onion and garlic. The taste can vary from hot and spicy to even sweet. A very interesting thing is while farsan is eaten as a snack or enjoyed on the side in other parts of the country, here it is used as an ingredient while cooking the dishes.
The exclusivity of Kathiawari food lies in the fact that it pays respect to the seasonal produce. “Being a hardy cuisine, it makes use of a handful of ingredients such as cumin, chillies and turmeric to elevate the flavours of the available produce,” explains Pinky. So expect dishes that are home-style, quickly treated and yet high on taste. “Our food is instantly cooked and freshly served,” she adds.
In Gujarati households, the main dishes are typically accompanied by bajra na rotla or millet rotis, chopdas or parathas and puris. At Soam, you can try the Bhindi ni Kadhi (yoghurt-based curry cooked with okra) along with brown rice too.
Some of the top picks from the menu are Kanda gathiya nu shak, which is a spring onion preparation cooked with gathiya or a gram flour snack. The uniqueness of the dish is the crunchy element. Fafda ka kachori, which is a take on khasta kachori, and Sev tameta with puris are also some of the favourites. For desserts, Motichur ke golgappe is a must-try; crisp golgappes complement the motichur and rabdi perfectly.
Recipe for Sev Tameta Nu Shaak (serves 4 – 6)
Time: 30 minutes
2 tsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp asafoetida powder (hing)
1 green chilli, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
½ tsp grated ginger
3 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
120 gms gram flour strings (sev)
1. Put the oil in a kadhai or wok on medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida powder and green chilli.
2. When the mustard seeds crackle, add the onion and ginger.
3. Sauté till the onion turns light brown and the oil starts to separate out.
4. Add the tomatoes and mix well.
5. Sprinkle in the spice powders and salt to taste.
6. Pour in 1 cup of water and cook covered for about 10 minutes, till the ingredients are well blended and the curry is thick.
7. Remove from heat.
8. About 5 minutes before serving, reheat the curry, add the gram flour strings and serve hot with parathas or rotis.
*Soam’s Kathiawari menu has been created in association with Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal of APB Cook Studio and will be available till the end of November.