Located on the west coast of India, Gujarat is home to different regions, and each region has unique culinary highlights or cooking methods. Most of the dishes have a sweet flavor from the generous use of jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) or sugar, while others have a spicy, salty, and tangy taste. Still, they are all delicious, enticing, and healthy. Here’s a comprehensive (but by no means exhaustive) list of Gujarati foods you need to be on the lookout for when in Gujarat.
If anyone had to pick the most ubiquitous dish in Gujarat, it would probably be this tangy-sweet farsan (snack) called Khaman. It’s made from a steamed batter of fermented chickpea and tends to be spongy. The piece de resistance? It is tempered with a dash of mustard seeds and green chilies and sprinkled with grated coconut and coriander. It is typically served with an array of chutneys on the side. While you can get Khaman throughout the country, the Das Khaman in Ahmedabad is renowned for its delicious varieties.
A traditional wintertime dish originating from Saurashtra (peninsular region of Gujarat), Undhiyu is basically a vegetable curry. It contains various veggies that help in the growth of ‘good bacteria,’ which eventually aids digestion. While the standard edition of this dish includes aubergine, ripe banana, potato, and green beans, other veggies may also be used. They are all mixed with dumplings made of chickpea flour and fenugreek, then slow-cooked together in an earthen pot or a vessel and seasoned with a melange of spices and herbs. It is usually accompanied by multi-grain bread or puri (fried, puffy Indian flatbread) and especially made during Uttarayan, the harvest festival celebrated with kites.
Thepla with Chunda Pickle
Often eaten as a breakfast or snack in the late afternoon, Thepla is a fenugreek leaves-studded flatbread made of wholemeal wheat flour and spices. It’s healthy and delicious and can be eaten by itself or with chunda (raw mango) pickle, curd, and bateta nu shaak (dry potato curry) on the side. While whole wheat already has high fiber content and B-complex vitamins, the fenugreek leaves further enhance the nutritional value. Ready-to-eat theplas are available in grocery stores across the state.
Every region in India has a distinct version of Khichdi, but at its most simple, it’s comfort food. The Gujarati Khichdi is basically a porridge made from rice, lentils, vegetables, and ghee (clarified butter) and is often paired with kadhi. It is light on the stomach and a super healthy dish containing many healthy nutrients, including proteins, dietary fiber, and vitamin C, perfect for curing digestive problems.
Sweet and sour, this offering from Gujarat is comforting and healthy. It’s a curd-based soup made with chickpea flour, spices, and jaggery or sugar. Water is added to make it lighter and thinner. Served with khichdi, thepla, or boiled rice, it makes for a delicious meal in its own right. It’s also packed with healthy nutrients that are effective in treating a host of health problems. There are several variations of this dish throughout the country, each leaving a different effect on the palate.
Dabeli is an on-the-go snack that hails from the Kutch region of Gujarat. Spiced mashed potato is sandwiched between a soft burger bun called pav coated with tamarind and date sauce. To enhance the texture, sev (crispy chickpea flour noodles), roasted groundnuts, and pomegranate seeds are added inside the pav. It is easily available at the roadside food stalls across the state (and in many western and southern India cities), and the taste is a mix of tangy, spicy, and sweet.
Fafda is a deep-fried delicacy made of gram flour. It is flat in shape, with a crunchy texture and salty taste. Grated dry papaya salad and fried green chilies are the usual accompaniments. To amp up the deliciousness, order jalebi, a sweet pretzel. This sweet and salty combination is both a breakfast staple and popular street food readily available at every corner of the state.
Khakhra is a breakfast staple on many Gujarati tables. It’s a light dish with a crispy, cracker-like crust made from whole wheat flour and spices and traditionally served with dry peanut powder. Ready-to-eat khakhras in different flavors (depending on the spices used) are easily available online and in supermarkets and food shops across the state. It’s delicious, affordable, and portable, too.
Rotlo with Shaak
Made from millet flour, rotlo is a flatbread that is usually eaten during winters. It is slightly bitter in taste and thicker in texture than your average roti. The millet flour dough is flattened with hands, like a game of patty cake, and cooked on a stovetop. Pair it with jaggery and melted ghee on the top, or a shaak (vegetable curry) like guvar nu shaak (cluster beans curry) or baingan bharta (smoky eggplant dish) on the side for a truly comforting Gujarati meal.
Patra is rolled colocasia leaves filled with a mix of gram batter, tamarind pulp, and various spices. They are steamed and seasoned with sesame seeds and coconut. The nutritive value of patra (colocasia leaves are rich in iron and vitamin A) has a hand in all prominence this appetizer or snack enjoys.
Sev usal is a piquant curry filled with onions, green peas, and a mix of spices, topped with sev and coriander. It’s served with soft buns and a wedge of lime. It can be found pretty much anywhere in Gujarat. Mahakali Sev Usal in Vadodara serves more than 25 varieties of this street food.
Simply put, dal is lentil stew, and dhokli stands for thick wheat flour noodles. They both are simmered together and served hot with clarified butter smeared on top. It has a sweet, tangy, and spicy taste and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. This one-pot dish is highly nutritious as well.
This dish is made out of a batter of fermented mixed lentils and rice flour. Veggies and spices are also added to the mixture, paving the way for many different variations. It’s usually cooked in a stovetop pan. Some even bake it in the oven. It has a soft, fluffy interior and crispy exterior and eaten alongside a hot cup of chai or simply with tomato ketchup.
Although there are many popular sweets in Gujarat, one of the special things to try is Ghari, from Surat. This round disc-shaped sweet is made from a mixture of khoya (reduced milk solids), clarified butter, and dry fruits rolled into a ball, wrapped in a dough of plain flour and gram flour, and fried. It is finished off with sugar syrup glaze. It’s believed to have been first made by Devshankar Shukla in the early 19th-century for the soldiers of freedom fighter Tatya Tope to build their strength. Today, it’s often consumed on Chandani Padva, the last full moon day in the Hindu calendar. Shops around the city sell this regional treat. To taste the very best Ghari, head to Shah Jamnadas Ghariwal, a 120-year-old shop in Surat. Do try its kesar-badam-pista Ghari.
There are plenty of milk-based puddings in India and Doodhpak is Gujarat’s ultimate creamy comfort pudding. It is typically made with rice, milk and sugar, and garnished with a variety of ingredients ranging from saffron and cardamom to dried fruits. It is a popular dessert item in Gujarati thali, and you can have it with puri.
Khandvi are thin rolls made from a thick paste of gram flour and yogurt and seasoned with spices. It has a savory flavor and can be enjoyed as a snack or appetizer. To heighten the taste, it is topped off with grated coconut and coriander leaves and served with a side of garlic sauce.