With time, we have learnt to look at the bright side of this otherwise incapacitating pandemic. And one of the few good things the COVID-19 lockdown has brought with it, is the resurgence of a lost ritual – shaam ka naashta. It harks one back to sunnier days, growing up in India, where we would huddle around the living room centre table poring over a plate of snacks with measured enthusiasm. In the past few months, the rushed chai-biscuit break at work has turned into relaxed evenings spent with family or loved ones, surrounded by warmth, stacks of goodies and laughter, interrupted only by the occasional ‘ting’ of our office Whatsapp group.
To add more colour to this cherished ritual, we decided to bring you a long list of snacks, plucked from a cuisine that undoubtedly champions snacking, Gujarati! From fluffy khaman to melt-in-your-mouth khandvi and crispy methi na gota, the Gujarati cuisine offers an array of delightful sweet and spicy treats that seamlessly add majja to tea-time. Although, if you’re a sucker for Gujju snakes, you probably have a dabba by your work desk.
Here are our top picks:
Handvo/handva is a savoury cake made using fermented rice and mixed lentils, flavoured with garlic and green chilli. Every Gujarati household has its own version of this nutritious dish and it is usually eaten for breakfast. Some add grated bottle gourd to handvo, while others add fresh corn, beetroot, carrot, capsicum and green peas
The crumbly leftovers of khaman are tempered with asafoetida, ginger, garlic and chilli, and topped with a generous amount of sev, coriander, pomegranate seeds and lemon juice to give you the chatpata sev khamni. Traditionally however, the sweet-sour snack is prepared by cooking soaked chana-dal paste, resulting in a light snack that is a riot of flavours.
A stiff dough made by kneading chickpea flour, whole wheat flour, grated bottle gourd and a few other ingredients is divided into equal portions and steamed to make dudhi na muthiya. This scrumptious snack gets its name from the fact that it is shaped with the help of one’s fist, which is called mutthi in Gujarati. You can cut and relish it as is or stir fry with mustard seeds, curry leaves and sesame seeds in oil.
Another perfect companion for tea is chef Shazia Khan’s version of muthiya. She ditches semolina, chickpea flour and wheat flour to make a healthy muthiya with bajra and fresh dill leaves. The procedure and tempering, however, remain the same – dough is shaped like sausages, steamed and then stir-fried with sesame, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves.
Methi Na Gota
Gujarat’s version of methi, or fenugreek, pakoras, makes use of chickpea and whole wheat flours. The marble-shaped fritters are crispy on the outside and spongy inside. Called methi na gota, the popular recipe appears on the state’s monsoon spread and is also part of the pithi (haldi) ritual at Gujarati weddings, where the fried doughballs are served to guests along with tea.
Often wrongly called dhokla, khaman is a light and fluffy steamed cake that is made with gram flour, curd, lemon juice, water, salt, chilli, ginger and turmeric powder. Fruit salt and baking soda are used to give the dish an airy texture and it is finished off with a tempering of mustard seeds, sesame seeds, curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida.
Best paired with green chutney and chai, dal pandoli is the Gujarati cousin of south India’s favourite idli. While idli is a mixture of rice and lentils, pandoli is made with soaked moong dal, ground together with green chilli, asafoetida, curd and coriander leaves. It is then cooked on a double boiler and just in case you can’t manage that, follow the muslin cloth trick in our recipe for a similar effect.
Sweet Potato Dabeli
One of Mumbai’s popular street snacks, dabeli originated in the Kutch region of Gujarat. It features a ladi pav stuffed with a sweet-spicy potato filling, flavoured with a unique spice mix. In this recipe, chef Brar swaps the regular potato with sweet potato, for a healthier spin and serves it with tamarind-jaggery chutney, crushed masala peanuts, pomegranate seeds and nylon sev
Khichu is rice flour mixed with green chilli, cumin, dry mango powder, black pepper powder, coriander leaves and ghee, cooked with water on low to medium heat. Chef Mehrishi adds boiled green peas to it and garnishes with a drizzle of peanut oil and red chilli powder. Khichu is also known as papad no lot meaning papad dough. Traditionally, when Gujarati families prepared papad at home during summers, it would take almost an entire day. Preparing meals would get tedious so they would (still do) scoop out some papad dough and prepare khichu for a meal.
Maharashtra’s suralichi wadi, is Gujarat’s khandvi. Steamed gram flour roll-ups are stuffed with fresh coriander leaves and grated coconut and topped with a tempering of sesame seeds, sesame seeds and curry leaves. If you like khandvi then you must also try chef Brar’s Fruit Khandvi Salad.
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