17 June, 2021

Five-Spice Mix (And The Remix)

The ‘Plain Jane of Indian food’ is actually a delicate, native diva—and the palanquin beckons

Narendra Bisht
Five-Spice Mix (And The Remix)

Dhokla-fafda-handva-thepla—the breathless hyphenation to which a range of Gujarati snacks is routinely reduced to, a stereotype even Bollywood feeds upon, isn’t particularly kind to the cuisine’s true repertoire. Underrated, misunderstood, underexplored—that is what Gujarati cuisine essentially is, and those sensitive to the many nuances of Indian food know this only too well. Indeed, you would be hard-pressed to find a reliable Gujarati diner that would do its cuisine proud outside of its home state and parts of Mumbai. Vishalla and Agashiye of Ahmedabad or Chetana of Mumbai have no comparable cousins elsewhere when it comes to serving authentic Gujarati thalis, and introducing patrons to its true flavours.

Sure, neighbourhood markets over the decades have dedicated shelf space to khakhra and thepla, while dhokla and khandvi readily sit beside the kachoris and the malpuas in sweet shops in very many non-Gujarati regions now, but does the food genuinely occupy pride of place on the Indian gourmetscape? Not quite so, and far from it.


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