Gateway to Gastronomy
In a state where prohibition is enforced,
eating out is the one thing on which there is no restriction,
says Sheetal Wadhwa Munshaw
Being a North Indian married into
a large Gujarati family, there is never any dearth of interesting
tales about the Amdavadi lifestyle. The all- time-favourite
one being the eating culture in Amdavad. I was
always told, "Food is the nucleus of all activities in
this city and Amdavadis eat and serve to their hearts
content." And in this case the old adage holds true
You have to see it to believe it. It was about
eight in the morning when we landed up at fois (aunts)
place and there was a full spread of Gujarati specialties
lined up for us. As a new member of the family and a first
time visitor to Ahmedabad, it took me all of 30 minutes to
get initiated to this epicurean culture.
In fact culture and cuisine are two highlights of the city
of Ahmedabad, and not necessarily in that order. Food is so
large a preoccupation that places in New Ahmedabad are actually
known by the restaurants located in the area. Eating out is
the most popular form of entertainment and has been en vogue
since times immemorial.
In the past, when the city was confined
to Old Ahmedabad, Manek Chowk was the prime area for eating
out. At the time, I was told, there was no concept of restaurants
and street fare was the order of the day. Then slowly the
restaurant concept settled in. Among the more famous restaurants
in Old Ahmedabad are Chandravilas at Manek Chowk on Fernandes
bridge. Apart from fafda and jalebi,
the other speciality of this place is that you would find
the largest street booksellers under this bridge.
For traditional Gujurati thali, your
best bet would be Chetna at Relief Road, Ratanpole. When it
comes to local specialties, Raipur Bhajia House at Raipur
Darwaja is patronised for its bhajias and khamans.
At any given time you would need to stand in a long queue
to eat here, so dont go there if youre in a hurry.
An interesting fact about this city is that the entire Old
City was known by the darwajas (gates), in that
you could literally call it a city of gates. Inside
all these gates there was a fort-like wall and one needed
to access the city through these darwajas. Among
the well-known darwajas are Lal Darwaja, Teen
Darwaja, Raipur Darwaja, Delhi Darwaja etc.
Back on the culinary trail, Khau Gali
in Law Garden in New Ahmedabad is a gourmets delight
dishing out sumptuous street fare. The new city also sports
a host of new restaurants and cuisines apart from traditional
Gujarati, Kathiawadi, Saurasthra and Rajasthani food. For
traditional fare a not miss is Vishala at Vasna.
Tradition is reflected in its ambience, decor and cuisine
lending it an essentially rustic feel. Its village setting
is enhanced by dim lighting, small stalls dotting the pathway
showcasing cultural souvenirs including a utensil museum and
a whole lot more. Among the must-trys apart from the thali
of course, are the hukka, lassi, masala chai and melt-in-the-mouth
paans. It truly is a Gujurati cultural experience. . Another
flagship restaurant for Gujarati food is Agashiye at Lal Darwaja.
However, as a localite pointed out, It is more for the
popular taste than really authentic fare.
Gordhan Thal located at the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar
highway is a legendary outlet in its own right. Its
humble beginning can be traced back to Gordhan maharaj (chef
in Gujarati) hailing from Rajasthan who had become a household
name in catering in traditional Ahmedabad. As eating out turned
into a fashion statement, his heirs decided to cash
in on the brands goodwill and have established
a popular restaurant called Gordhan Thal, related Sanathan
Pancholi, resident manager, Gujarat Tourism Board, Mumbai.
The ambience and decor of this restaurant is essentially Rajwadi
style detailing mirror work, mud work and other traditional
Rajasthani interiors. As a matter of fact most maharajs
originated from Rajasthan and adapted swiftly to preparing
authentic Gujarati cuisine. Although, being neighbouring states
both cuisines are greatly influenced by each other without
losing their individual character.
The other popular restaurant is Gopi
Dining Hall on Ashram Road. Ashram Road is the main road dividing
the city into old and new Ahmedabad. This dining halls
claim to fame is clearly its cuisine. An intrinsic part of
any traditional meal in Ahmedabad are ice-creams and kulfis.
And unlike other cities, Amdavadis also eat ice-creams
in winter. A household name for ice-creams is Patel and for
kulfis the indisputable market leader is Asharfi.
While traditional cuisine remains
the pride of the city, the younger generation is experimental
and have fast adapted to other culinary delicacies. Chaats
and fast food are big in Ahmedabad be it on the streets or
in chaat houses and fast food joints. Honest on C.G Road is
probably the biggest name in Ahmedabad city for fast food.
The other popular restaurant is Havmor at Navrangpura. Speaking
of diverse cuisines, Punjabi food is big in Ahmedabad. Popular
Punjabi restaurants include Mirch Masala at Swastik Cross
Road, Tomatos at CG Road, 9 Spice at the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar
highway, Chuttneez at Fun Republic and Copper Chimney on CG
Road. Incidentally CG Road is the main commercial road in
New Ahmedabad, its like the pulse of the city housing
all the branded stores and the commercial complexes making
it the prime business area of the city. Bawarchi off CG Road
is famous for its Balti Paneer and the prime attraction
of Sanjha Chula on Gota Gandhinagar highway is Makai
ki Roti and Sarson Ka Saag. For South Indian
cuisine check out Sankalp near Sarkhej Gandhinagar highway.
This restaurant has featured in the Guiness Book Of
World Records as the only restaurant to have made a
25 feet long Dosa. International cuisine is also
permeating the scene with Starz at Fun Republic serving some
Thai and Chinese fare and Little Italy, as the name suggests,
offers some delectable Italian cuisine.
On the scene also are some mega multiplexes
showcasing entertainment, movie theatres and of course restaurants.
Fun Republic on Satellite Road has a shopping complex and
multi-cuisine restaurants Chuttneez and Starz. City
Gold, is famous for its Mc Donalds. The other very popular
multiplex is RWorld that is among the biggest multiplexes
in Asia, boasting a bowling alley, go-karting , a cyber cafe,
video games etc. RWorld is also the only address in
Gujarat that offers popcorn in 22 flavours.
To list the whole gamut of restaurants
in Ahmedabad would require a dedicated Good Food Guide.
What I have attempted to do though is take you through the
most popular gourmet destinations. So the next time youre
in Ahmedabad, dont be surprised if the first question
that comes your way when visiting a friend or relative is
Su Khaso? (What will you eat?) even before Kem
cho? (How are you?). And if youre there to explore
business opportunities, Im sure youve gathered
that the best way to clinch a deal is across the dinner table!
- Taj Residency, Ummed
International Airport Circle, Hansol
Ahmedabad - 382475,
tel: (79)2864444;email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Grand Bhagwati
Near Rajpath Club, Thaltej-Satellite Rd, Ahmedabad
- Cama Park Plaza
Khanpur, Ahmedabad - 380001
tel: (79) 5601234;
- Holiday Inn Ahmedabad
Near Nehru Bridge,
Ahmedabad - 380001,
tel: (79) 5505505; email: email@example.com
Ahmedabad specialities include jewellery, handloom and
handicrafts and artifacts. The main areas for shopping
would be Gandhi Road and Relief Road in Old Ahmedabad
and in the new city dont miss C.G Road, Law Garden
noted for itsethnic fashion street and Maninagar.
For curios look for Tamanna, Bandhej, Gurjari and Avasar