If you are a vegetarian, and craving some quick bites, what comes to your mind? Chances are, if you think of ten things, eight will be Gujarati in origin. This is how diverse and dynamic this particular cuisine is.

Gujarat is a primarily vegetarian state, owing to influences of Jainism. Its climate is rather hot and dry state. The major crops that come out of this arid land are wheat, maize makka), millet(bajra), sorghum(jowar) and rice. A typical everyday meal consists of Dal-Bhaat-Rotli-Shaak which roughly translates into Lentils-Rice-Bread-Vegetables.On special occasions and festivals, this basic thali is supplemented by additional vegetable items, side dishes known as farsaan, snacks known as naasta and sweets.

A complete Gujarati thali consists of dishes which are distinctively, sweet, salty and spicy at the same time. Let us try to decontruct the thali by listing commonly served dishes, category wise:

Bread: Consists of flat breads made up of wheat, bajra, makai and jowar. Theplas are aslo very popular and are made up of a combination of flours and mildly spiced.

Rice: Plain Rice, Pulao, khichdi(rice and lentil) and Khichu(rice flour kneaded with water).

Vegetables: Almost all vegetables are consumed here. Undhiyo is a specialilty. It is like a casserole consisting of a variety of veggies especially green beans, green bananas and yam.

Side Dishes(Farsaan): Any lover of this cuisine shall vouch for the fact that the farsaan dishes are the actual highlights for many. Dhokla,Khaman, Khandvi, Handvo, Dabeli,Muthia, the list is endless.

Snacks (Naasta): Fafda, Chakri, Ganthia, Sev, bhakhra and many more.

Dal(Lentils): Toor is the most popular dal. Mix Dal, Sweet Kadhi and Moong Dal are also consumed.

Sweets (Mishthaan): Shrikhand, Puranpoli, Basundi, Lapsi, Chickoo halwa, Sukhadi, Malpua etc are very popular.

Listed below are a few outlets you can try for some authentic lip-smacking Gujarati fare:

Surti (Bhuleshwar)

If wish to have good food on a budget, this is the place to head to. The highly  recommended Gujarati Thali comes in two variations: Surti Thali and Surti Deluxe Thali. The Ammras-Puri, special undhiyo and Daal Dhokli are to die  for. They also have unique ice-cream flavours.

Shree Tacker Bhojanalay (Kalbadevi)

his place is an institution and has been the winner of Times Food Award for Best Thali multiple times. Although, for first timers, locating this place can be a little tricky, the trouble is totally worth it. People keep coming back for the consistent quality of food they have maintained. Each of the farsans and sabzis, the five types of rotis(jowar, bajra, makai, wheat and bhaakri) and the rice variety are worth a mention.

Chetana Restaurant (Fort)

In addition to the regular Chetana Regular Thali, Daal Baati Thali (served with Baati and Panchmel Daal) is highly recommended. The Sunday&Holiday thali is the regular thali, but served with Puranpoli/Thepla/Bikaneri parantha and an extra sweet.

Maharaja Bhog Premium Thali (Goregaon East, Malad West, Juhu, Powai)

This outlet is a must try for all thali lovers. The fact that this restaurant has so many outlets, vouches for its popularity. They serve a blend of Rajasthani and  Gujarati delicacies. The Daal Baati Churma, Cheeku Halwa, Puranpoli and  kadhi are highly recommended.

Samrat Restaurant (Churchgate)

This restaurant has been  consistently dishing out wholesome Gujarati food  since long.The Kadhi, fried Gavaar, Thepla, Masala Khichdi and Fruit Salad are highly recommended.

Although this state is primarily vegetarian, certain communities along the coastline do consume meat and fish(fresh and dried both). In addition to the wide variations of food, this cuisine is very particular about the food combinations (what food is served with what flavour combination. A well prepared and well presented Gujarati thali will not only satiate your hunger but also your soul.

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