India probably has the largest number and greatest variety of vegetarian dishes in the world. After my traditional cuisine and other South Indian vegetarian food, my next best vegetarian food is that of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Actually, I would have a tough time choosing between the two.
So when Westlandsent me a copy of The Gujarati Kitchen – Family Recipes for the Global Palateby Bhanu Hajratwala, I was sure the book would have some recipes I would love trying out. The first thing that struck me when I went through the book, was that it had a lot of non-vegetarian recipes! I always thought of Gujarati food as being vegetarian for some reason, but there’s no reason why Gujaratis would not cook non-vegetarian food. After all, Gujarat is home not just to Hindus or Jains, but also to Muslims and a small Christian population who are traditionally non-vegetarian.
The book starts with a rather long but readable introduction by the author about her life and the influences on food in her life, and how she went from someone who was not interested in cooking to being known as “the Martha Stewart of Gujarati cooking” amongst her family and friends!
Then the author offers generaltips and advise about the ingredients used in the book, how to prepare them, cookware, details of a well-stocked Gujarati pantry, measurements, oven temperatures, etc. There are also recipes to make the different spice blends/ masalas used in her book.
The recipes are categorised as expected under Starters, Main Dishes, Breads, Rice, Accompaniments With Rice, Sweets, Chutneys and Relishes, Pickles, Favourite Teatime Snacks, Drinks and even one for “Mukhwaas” or the mouth fresheners that typically round off every meal.
One thing I liked is how every chapter has separate sections dedicated to vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. The recipes are concise but detailed enough to follow easily. Most of them are accompanied by the author’s notes and also variations that one can make with the given recipe.
Many of the recipes have rather long ingredient lists, but are actually not difficult to make. They are all traditional Gujarati recipes naturally, but seem to show the influence from Ms. Hajratwala’s having lived outside India all her life, in the recipes and the pronunciation of many of their names.
The recipes include common favourites like Doodhina Muthia (Bottle Gourd Fritters), Khandvi (Gram Flour Rolls, Batatanu Sukhu Shaakh (Dry Potato Curry), Oondhiyu (Upside-Down Vegetables), Bhakri Thepla (Flatbreads), Khichdi (Rice with Lentils), Ghugara (Sweet Dumplings), Naankhatai (Surti Shortbread) and others like Khajoor Pak (Healthy Date Fudge), Hing Aamliwali Daal (Peasants’’ Daal), Vaddhoo (Mixed Legume Curry), Bhaakarina Laadwa (Whole-wheat Sweets), Kachoomar Athanu (Mixed Fruit Vegetable Pickle)
There’s even a recipe for home-made Tadee (Toddy/ Palm Juice)!
I have seen quite a few cookbooks on Gujarati cooking but this is the first one I’ve seen that includes non-vegetarian recipes. Even though I’m vegetarian, there are enough recipes in here to keep me happy for a while. I would definitely recommend this book as one to add to one’s collection. The only thing that I’m unhappy about, are the number of photographs that are in this book and their rather lack lustre quality. The photographs in the book certainly will not sell it to someone who’s browsing through it.
About the author:
Bhanu Hajratwala**was raised in a traditional Gujarati family in the Fiji Islands and grew up eating authentic homemade Gujarati fare. When she moved to the United States after marriage, she learned to improvise while trying to maintain authentic flavours, as a lot of the traditional ingredients were not available.
She has since compiled several cookbooks for community organizations, recipes for worship during ceremonies, and writes a Women’s Corner column in her community’s Gujarati magazine. She has also conducted cooking demonstrations and classes throughout the United States and in New Zealand, Fiji, India, and Australia. Currently she lives in San Francisco Bay area in California with her husband.
I had book-marked a few recipes to try out and one of them was her Daal Dhokali (also known as Daal Dhokli). Many Gujarati households serve this dish on Sunday mornings, and it can be served either as a one-dish meal or else as a gravy preparation with rice.
Daal Dhokali is a sort of lentil soup that’s a perfect balance of salty, spicy, tangy and sweet flavours.It is made by simmering spiced “Dhokalis (diamond shaped whole-wheat pasta) in a “Daal (Lentil Soup/ Gravy)”. The “Dhokali” are usually added to the gravy and cooked just before serving so they don’t become soggy. The lentil gravy differs from cook to cook and there are many variations. Some recipes use tuvar dal while others use a mix of lentils, some add jaggery while others keep it savoury, and so on.
The Dal Dhokali is topped off with a tempering, some lemon juice, chillies and fresh coriander leaves. It is a very popular Gujarati/Rajasthani dish and you’ll find variations of it all over the place. Some recipes make it just with toor dal, others like to mix up different lentils. Some add besan(chickpea flour) to their dhokli’s while others stick to wheat flour. Some add sugar/jaggery whereas others just keep it savory.
Daal Dhokali goes well with rice, mango pickle, papad, and an Indian style Onion, Tomato and Cucumber Salad/ Salsa
This recipe uses tuvar dal, jaggery, lemon and kokum, and peanuts. Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you. It’s just a matter of organising all the ingredients in one place and the cooking up this lentil preparation isn’t all the difficult.
I know when one is reviewing a recipe, it’s a plan to stick to the recipe but I deviated just a little. I added some chickpea flour (besan) to the “Dhokali” dough because I ove the taste of it. I added 1 1/2 tbsp of chickpea flour topped up with whole-wheat flour to make up the required measurement.
I don’t use shortening so substitued for it in the Dhokali dough with a little more oil.
The other thing I must mention is that since the reipe says it serves 4 to 6, I decided to halve the recipe since I didn’t want us eating Daal Dhokali through next week also. The halved recipe was enough to serve 4 to 6, in my opinion so you might want to take a call on
that if you’re making this.
Other than that, we like it. Well, I should say that I liked it very much while my husband and our daughter decided they preferred the “Daal” part of the dish and would prefer to give the “Dhokali” a miss. It’s all a matter of taste, really.
Daal Dhokali (Indian Style Spiced Pasta In Split Pigeon Peas)
(Reproduced with permission from The Gujarati Kitchen by Bhanu Hajratwala)