A grand Gujarati thali
Visiting the Grand Mercure Vadodara Surya Palace shattered several myths about Gujarati cuisine and also showed influences of Maharashtrian flavours and the mingling of culinary cultures.
Gujarat, a culturally vibrant state, has an equally tantalising and delightful fix for every foodie who travels there.
Gujarati food available all over India is largely an apt reflection for what the state has to offer. We headed to Vadodara for an authentic food journey to experience it first hand.
And while we were there, executive chef of the newly rebranded Grand Mercure Vadodara Surya Palace, Sudhakar Angre, took the guests through a scintillating gastronomical journey that shattered many myths about Gujarati cuisine.
“It’s too sweet,” is the general reaction from those who taste Gujarati food for the first time, largely based on the Kadhi or Daal. Adding a little sweetness to most of their dishes, mainly to balance the acidity and the spices, is their traditional way of cooking food.
Having spent almost two decades in Vadodara, Angre has never shied from experimenting and blurring the lines between traditional and Western food often.
But the hotel takes special pride in serving authentic Gujarati cuisine and since Vadodara is home to 40 per cent Maharashtrians — the food there has a major Maharashtrian influence. So don’t be surprised to see Chicken Tambda Rassa (yes, the state has non-vegetarians too) at a buffet, or minced chicken sandwiched between two Theplas (a la Quesadilla)!
Angre, who hails from Raigad district in Maharashtra, revealed how this five-star hotel has regularly served Maharashtrian dishes along with regular Indian favourites.
“There is some Maharashtrian influence in Gujarati preparations as well. There are some dishes in which coconut is used, just like it is done in Konkani delicacies,” he said.
Maharashtrian tourists or businessmen staying in the iconic Surya Palace will be able to relate to the food back home. Aam Panna, Lasuni Batata, Veg Kolhapuri and Aamras — just to name a few — are often served here, winning the hearts of the Marathi-speaking population.
Don’t miss the spread here during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, where right from starters to desserts, the tables are lined up with Maharashtrian delicacies.
Gujarati folks like to eat khatta-meetha food more. Different parts of the state also have varied specialities like people from Kathiawad like their spices while those living in Surat and Vadodara like it a little bit chatpata, explained Angre.
A Gujarati thali in all its grandeur is sure to tantalise the taste buds of every foodie. The one that chef Angre doled out for us was a heady combination of Undhiyu, Sev Tamatar, Lasuni Batata, Chicken Undhiyu, Bhindi, Daal, Kadhi, Kachumbar, three types of flatbreads and Chach to gulp it all down. And to top it off, the heavenly Aamras made from Valsad Alphonso mangoes sent us into a state of happy food trance.
Chef Angre recommends everyone to try the Fafda-Jalebi combination, served with a Besan Curry Chutney, which is a common breakfast item in Vadodara.
The author can be reached on Twitter @meg123nandu