Go Gujarati this Navratri

The Gujarati Food Festival in town is filled with delectable dishes that lend a fresh lease of life to the festive spirit down South
The venue of the Gujarati Food Festival
The venue of the Gujarati Food Festival

Ask a Chennaiite what he/she knows about Gujarati food and they may come up with one or two dishes and that would be it. Ask them about the Navratri delicacies that people of Gujarat make at their homes and they would have to squeeze their brains to name a few dishes. Well, we were also part of the club, until we headed to the Gujarati Food Festival held in the city that is...

Instead of offering a regular Navratri thali, Chef Parul Bhatt had decided that she would keep it as a buffet this time around and it made quite a lot of sense, for there were over 35 dishes on offer at numerous stalls setup within the dining area. We even spotted Green Chilli among the accompaniments and we are told that many people in Gujarat can't do without the hit of the chilli even to this day! Taking note of the seriousness (quite literally) with which Gujaratis treat their cuisine, we moved on.

Seeking the Panki get made live is a treat to the eyes
Seeking the Panki get made live is a treat to the eyes

While sipping on the Roasted Raw Mango Baflo, an interesting drink that works wonders in Chennai's climate, we watched the Panki being made right in front of our eyes. The batter is poured on a banana leaf and is closed with another leaf, which is then placed on a hot pan to cook. Once the leaves start turning brown, you know that it is done. When eaten with Mint Chutney and Dates Tamarind Chutney, it tastes as fresh and amazing as it is to look at.

Love paneer? This <em>Paneer Tikka</em> is a must try!
Love paneer? This Paneer Tikka is a must try!

Then there was the Moong Sprout Kachumber which added some acidic flavour to our palette, the Khandvi was delicious, while the Khichiya Papad with Methiyo Masala was a lovely bite before we dived deep into the main course. Among an array of options, we tried the Tuvar Khichadi, Gujarati Dal and Undhiyu which made us brim with joy, for they had the flavours of homemade food and tasted as good. Rice lovers also had plain rice and numerous subzis to choose from.

The Khandvi was, simply put, delicious

On the dessert front, we were told that some of the sweets were flown in from Surat to maintain their originality and one of those was the Sutarfeni which would immediately remind you of Milk Peni, but this sweet was soft as they come and did not overpower us with its sweetness. Quite the opposite was the Churma Ladoo which made us fall in love with ladoos again. It indeed was that tasty.

Some of the desserts were flown in from Surat for the festival

We are informed that some of the dishes have been toned down to suit the palette of Chennaiites and the list of dishes also comprised pizza for the avid lover of the Italian dish. Of course, you never finish such a lovely meal without the ubiquitous Meetha Pan, which left us wondering if we had space in our tummy to dig in again.

INR 2,000++. Dinner only. On till October 24. At Grand Chennai by GRT Hotels.

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