It has taken me some time to reconcile that the state of Gujarat is all about vegetarianism. Vegetarianism has had wide prevalence over centuries across the state. A blend of exquisite flavours and textures, Madhur Jaffrey has gone so far as to term Gujarati cuisine as "the haute cuisine of vegetarianism".
The longstanding belief is that the spread of Jainism encouraged the local people to turn to vegetarianism, with merchant princes giving away large sums of money in charity to promote vegetarianism.
Distinct to the cuisine is the love for sweet-tasting delights. You’ll find sugar or jiggery used in main dishes – it diverts the taste away from the odd vegetable. And to make it more intriguing, dishes might be a combination of sweet, salty and spicy, even! Close to the desert land of Rajasthan, Gujarat has its hot summers too, and you will find lemon, tomatoes are popular ingredients, in addition to sugar and salt, to avoid dehydration.
Then there’s the snacks- nasto and farsan, never eaten together and very distinctive. Nasto is a travel snack, you can keep them in airtight containers and includes delightful crisps like ganthia, papri, fafda, not to forget the sev and chevda. The farsan, you eat as an accompaniment to a meal – this where dhoklas, bhajiyas, khandvis and kachoris find pride of place.
Indulge in this unique and distinct cuisine, served through March 18, where you’ll find all these dishes and a lot more at WelcomCafe Cambay’s food festival at WelcomHotel Vadodara.