Indian Vegetarian Food - Gujarati Snacks 101 - Where Snacking is Cultural
We all have our favourite snacks, but for Gujarati people snacks are more than just occasional munchies. They comprise a distinct aspect of their culture, and if you step into any Gujarati household, you will see an incredible array of snacks, of all tastes, forms and sizes.
Gujaratis are by far the largest Indian community overseas. So, it is no wonder that an increasing number of people are becoming aware of Gujarati food and dining. In fact, the general curiosity is not just about Gujarati meals, but has also spilled over to Gujarati snacks. The people of the region love their snacks and have a more diverse variety in them than anywhere else in the country.
Gujarati snacks consist of a remarkable range of tastes and cooking styles, and it is safe to say that there would be something to suit everyone’s palette. Some of the snacks like dhokhla and khandhvi are wet and spongy; then there are cooked snacks, which are light and crispy, like khakhra; fried snacks such as kachori; and even those that have a rice-like consistency, like chevra and poha. Of course, there are the ubiquitous sweets, like the biscuit-y naan khatai, and the tempting jalebi, which is deep fried in boiling sugar syrup. There are several steamed Gujarati snacks as well, and these would delight health conscious people.
Range of Tastes
As far as tastes go, khakhra, chevra, poha and a lot others are savory, and can be made mild or spicy according to taste. Dhokhla and khandhvi, arguably the most popular of all these snacks outside Gujarat, both have a very unique tangy-spicy taste. They both are made from sour yoghurt and gram flour, along with a range of spices and seasoning. Chevra and poha, on the other hand, taste very similar to flavored or vegetable rice, much like the famous Indian Pulao.
If you actually visit Gujarat, you will not be able to miss dabeli and vada pav, which are both preparations involving buns and pungent fillings. If it helps, visualize vada pav as an Indian burger. And yes, it is not too healthy or light in terms of calories!
A Vibrant Snack Culture
If you are thinking right now that Gujaratis are obsessed with snacks, you are not wrong. They typically call their snacks Nasto, and that is a word that features at all times of the day, from breakfast to bed-time. To give you an idea, Chevra, poha and dhokhla are popular as breakfast items, khakhra and khandhvi maybe eaten as appetizers before lunch or dinner or as munchies between meals, whereas kachori and vada pav feature as evening treats.
Since a lot of these snacks are portable and easy to store, people commonly carry them to work, pack them for train journeys and even send them overseas! In Gujarat, all these snacks are available on street-side stalls that are generally parked together in long rows in market places. However, the scope of the market goes way beyond that.
Exporters these days are doing business worth millions of dollars every year, catering to the snack needs of Gujaratis living abroad. As a result of this, a lot of foreign people have also got exposed to the concept of Gujarati snacks.
The good thing is that if you have the right ingredients and utensils, some of these tasteful Gujarati snacks are fairly easy to prepare at home. Indian food is as diverse as its people and culture.
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