The Kutchis are passionate about cooking, eating and feeding, not just families and friends but even friends’ friends. ‘Nashta’ is the answer to all kinds of hunger- big or small. They will carry home-cooked food while travelling, on picnics, any and everywhere and will gladly share it with you. Even if you politely refuse, they will tell you not to feel shy and cajole you and hand you a plateful of nashta and ask you to have a ‘pait (stomach) full’. For the Kutchis food is a serious business. And if you are a foodie, then these scrumptious snacks will tingle your taste buds and leave you craving for more.
Here is a list of five must have snacks while in Kutch:
1. Kutchi Dabeli
What the Burger is to the West and the Vada Pav is to Maharashtra the Dabeli is to Kutch. Boiled and mashed potatoes are mixed with the Dabeli masala, and this mixture is then stuffed into a ladi pav (burger bread) shallow fried on a pan and served with sweet and spicy chutneys. A garnish of peanuts and pomegranates makes this snack hard to resist. You will find several hand carts selling this lip-smacking snack around Bhuj city and on Mandvi beach.
2. Jalebi Fafda
It is a long-standing tradition for the Gujaratis to have Jalebi Fafda, a sweet and savoury combo, on Dussera for breakfast. Jalebis are pretzels made with maida which are deep-fried and then dunked in sugar syrup. While you will find jalebis in several other states of India what sets the Kutchi jalebi apart is that they are extra thin and crispier. The fafda is made from chickpea flour, and the long strips of the dough are deep-fried. Served as an adjunct with it is a raw papaya dry salad cum chutney.
This multi-layered, spiral, round snack made with refined wheat flour, oil and salt is sometimes delicately flavoured with pepper. The crisp, crunchy and flaky circles will remind you of the flaky pastry from the Western countries or the desi khari biscuit. Pakwan is typically had with a piping hot cup of chai or tea. It is a skill to prepare this dish, and although many traders have tried their hands at making it in other parts of the country have never quite achieved the desired results. The dry, warm conditions of Kutch are thought to be an essential factor for making this delicacy.
4. Khaman Dhokla
These spongy, steamed cubes are made with chickpea flour and tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. After garnishing with sev (fried vermicelli), chopped coriander and grated coconut these spongy delights are served with assorted chutneys. The date and tamarind sweet and tangy chutney or the spicy coriander and green chilli chutney will send your taste buds alight.
Come winter, and all households in Gujarat will make this must-have winter food with health benefits. This sweet is made of urad dal, edible gum, dry fruits, spices and sugar. Grandmas will swear that eating a small piece of this winter special will keep the body warm and fit.
This article was first published on http://kutchbhuj.com/local-flavours.html