Should I be professional and dissect the wedding food? Or should I be emotional and put behind me a not-so-great experience? A bit of both I think. The wedding was ok, the wedding food not so much. There was a lack of both variety and innovation, and the unexpected star of the wedding dinner (in my mouth’s opinions) was the humble ‘chila’ – a thin pancake of ground dals stuffed with vegetables and served with chutney. Disappointed as I am with the Agra experience, I cannot help but expect better from my upcoming Baroda trip. While Mom is excited about going back home, I am excited about writing NET. No seriously, I am. Whats not to love about the day-long marathon that ranges from the insane to the impossible? The race that we continue to run twice a year, every year, knowing that we can’t win? It’s a dream come true, of course.
To counterbalance my joy over the exam, however, there is the drag known as Gujarati food which I will be subjected to in some degree. Why would anyone want to eat spongy dhokla or crisp jalebis? Or hot spicy cheesy dabelis and vada pavs? Why, indeed.
Sarcasm apart, one complaint I do have with Gujarati food is about the dhokla. First of all, what I’m used to called dhokla, the savoury yellow steamed cakes, are called khaman there. The harder dryer version is simply called that, but the softer, juicier and sweeter version is called nylon khaman or simply nylon. There is the white dhokla which is actually called dhokla, made out of rice flour. Sorry Gujjus, that tastes like a poor cousin of the idli to me, and I know which one I prefer. Oh and then there is sev khamani which is made by grinding/ crushing cooked khaman and mixing it with some combination of sugar, coriander leaves, mince garlic, pomegranate, green chilli, etc. Thats the khamani, and then you top with a lot of fine sev to make sev khamani!
I’ve already made my list of the things I want to eat when I’m in Baroda. At the top is Dabeli, coz its just not available in Hyderabad and its one of the very very few things that mom can’t cook well. The key to a good Dabeli, IMO, is a very garlicky green chutney. Take a ladi pav (the kind used for pav bhaji), slit it from one side so that you can open it up. Apply the “very garlicky green chutney” on both sides. Stuff in a mixture of boiled mashed potatoes, masala peanuts, pomegranate. Top with grated cheese. Close the pav. Cook on a tawa with a little oil. Make sure that it does not get crisp. If its crisp, you might as well just throw it away. Serve with super-sweet tamarind and date chutney.
The second item is Bombay Sandwich. in Baroda? yes. There is a small lane off the main commercial area of Baroda which has a lot of carts selling these sandwich monsters. Three slices of bread (BIG ones), butter and green chutney spread, stuffing of thick slices of Onion, Cucumber, Boiled Potato, Tomato and Beetroot. All topped with generous dollops of tomato sauce, grated cheese and chaat masala. I don’t know if this sandwich is actually available in Bombay (or Mumbai, as we must call it for fear of the SS), but I worship the one in Baroda. Served with extremely unhealthy but delicious potato wafers.
Then comes Nylon and Sev Khamani. Unfortunately, the Sev Khamani in Baroda doesn’t taste as good as the one in Ankleshwar, and its not as widely available either. 😦
Pani puri… not because its not available in Hyderabad, but because its so darn cheap there. Just the puris are available for as low as Rs. 12 for a pack of 50. Compared to Rs. 30 here. Plus there is a vendor called Delhi Chaat there which has really good chaat. Especially the matar ki chaat, or chaat made of dried yellow peas, which also happens to be impossible to find in Hyderabad. Unfortunately, I don’t know how its made. I just know what to do with a plate of the finished product. Ask for more chutney and try to wait long enough to not burn your tongue.
Amul Icecream. Yes I know its available in Hyderabad, but somehow it doesn’t taste the same here. And the Amul parlour is a bit far away from home, so we end up getting Kwality Walls. Which is little low on the cream factor. There are 3 main brands of icecream available in Gujarat – Amul, Vadilal and Havmor. Vadilal used to be this dry, too-buttery, too much essence kind of icecream, but in the last few years, it has really reinvented itself. New fancy flavours, improved versions of the classics, and way more creaminess. If you’re beginning to think that I’m obsessed with creaminess, then you are absolutely right. Whats icecream without the cream? Plain old ice! Anyway, these 3 brands are pretty level on my personal rating chart, but I do favour certain flavours from each of those. Ferrero Rocher Icecream, anyone? Or the delightful Kesar Krackle, which is a saffron flavoured icecream with crushed bits of til chikki.
Ooooh, thats made me hungry now.
Quick winding up. I’m leaving for Baroda tomorrow, will be back on 28th. And then it’ll be time to bake a belated Christmas cake! The fruits are all soaking in a rum/whisky/orange juice combo, and should be at their plumpiest by the time I return. And now I’m REALLY hungry. Cake hungry.