Gujarat and its vivid vegetarian platter is a popular treat. While I have always been a fan of Gujarati snacks like Dhoklas, Khandwi and Aam Ras, the real interplay of its rich flavours was only introduced to me during my trip to Ahmedabad when I tried their majestic Thali. And what striked me the most was, the practice every server would follow as you call for a thali in any restaurant. As soon as you place your order, you would be promptly asked to make a choice between 'Gujarati' thali or the 'Kathiyawadi' thali. It is advisable to ask them about the contents of the thali before making the choice. While a Kathiyawadi thali is often only described as a more spicy and greasy variant of a Gujarati Thali, there's lots more left to be explored.

Kathiyawar is a peninsula in western Gujarat and a part of what is known as the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The coastal region just like the rest of Gujarat has a high count of vegetarians. But what differentiates the Kathiawari thali from the Gujarati thali is its characteristic use of spices, which is mellowed to a great extent in its central counterpart, and also its generous use of garlic and onions. Buttermilk or lassi forms an essential part of the Kathiawari thali, instead of the aam ras, which usually starts as an opener for a Gujarati Thali. In winters, the region has to battle severe dip in temperature and this spicy platter helps them keep up with inhospitable weather conditions.

 

What does the great thali comprise of?

Kathiyawadi thali impresses from the very start itself. The papad andtadela marcha, or fried green chillies, served right at the beginning give a perfect opening to the grand feast. The papad makes a re-entry in a curried form with Papad Ki Sabzi. Sev Tamatar Subzi (chickpea noodles in tomato gravy), Dahi BhindiTindora Nu Shaak (sweet-and-savoury ivy gourd), and dal follows soon after. There are also some seasonal dishes added in Thali for a short them when fresh produce is available like Ringana Methi Nu Shaak (eggplant cooked with fenugreek leaves) or Bharela Ringan(stuffed eggplant). Lasania Bataka(boiled potatoes cooked in ginger garlic and tomato mix), and Kathiawadi Dhokali Nu Shak(Besan dumplings in spicy gravy) are also some of the popular delicacies you would find in the thali. Rotli(Rotis) and Bakhris( a coarser bread made of bajra) with huge dollops of ghee or butter is another common find in a typical Kathiawadi thali. However, it is the spicy Tikhari or Kadhi(unlike its sweet counterpart in the Gujarati thali) and Khichdi or Undhiyo that can be called the stars of the Kathiyawadi Thali. After you meal, you must try Gol and Ghee, a popular dessert preparation of the Kathiawadis that is made with melt-in-mouth jagerry and desi ghee, to conclude the lavish treat.

Wholesome and full of a variety of flavours, the next time you visit Gujarat make sure you treat yourself to a delicious Kathiyawadi thali.

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