Honestly, your visit to any place is incomplete if you haven’t tried the local cuisine.
And our very own Gujarati cuisine, in spite of all the criticism it faces for being sweet, is the one not to be missed.
Firstly, let me get some facts straight.
- Gujarati cuisine is all sweet. They like to add sugar to almost everything in their meal
- Fact– No. Gujaratis love their sweets but there are quite a lot of dishes in the cuisine that are anything but sweet. If you call Thepla, Patra or Khichdi sweet, then my friend, you’ve got a problem with your taste buds.
- Gujaratis don’t like Non-vegetarian food
- Fact– They do have a preference for vegetarian food, cause they are awesome people like me 🙂 , but you wouldn’t starve if you are a hardcore meat eater while in Gujjuland. In fact, some Gujaratis actually love their meat.
- Gujarati food is bound to result in increased waistline
- Fact– Well, this one can actually be true. But then with all the yummy snacks (and no, not all Gujaratis pronounce it ‘Snakes’) and dal-bhaat-saak-rotli, you wouldn’t mind oil clogging your arteries. It’s worth it!
Now with all your stereotypes broken (or reinstated?) let’s get to the Gujarati Thali experience in the heartland of Gujarat, Amdavad (Ahmedabad).
Disclaimer: This is just a suggestion based on my personal experience of the restaurant. I am not a food critic, but I can definitely differentiate between a good meal and the portion that just won’t go down your throat.
While there may be many restaurants serving authentic Gujarati cuisine in the city of Ahmedabad, nothing comes closer to the package that Vishalla has to offer.
It’s a theme restaurant, to be precise a Gujarati village experience, much along similar lines to Chokhi Dhani in Rajasthan and Haveli in Punjab.
The restaurant is located on the outskirts of the city and is not difficult to find. The intersection near the restaurant is called ‘Vishalla Chowk’, many interstate buses terminate close to this.
Depending on the weather, a daytime visit is recommended but if you get an opportunity to dine at this place in the evening, don’t miss it.
The entrance from the gate till the reception area is lighted with kerosene lamps (ethnicity begins!). Once inside, there’s a counter on the left to make your bookings for the restaurant and the museum, inquire about the menu and make payments. And on the right, there’s a display that gives justification to the amount that you are paying 😛 .
The place is divided into two sections: The eating and entertainment area and the museum and shopping area.
The museum and shopping area has a handicraft and handloom shop and of course, the Utensil museum called ‘Vechaar’.
The main eating and entertainment area had live performances going on. There were various types of performances, including folk dances being performed by women attired in traditional Gujarati (rural) dresses, dancing to the tunes of Gujarati music being played by some turban clad men.The place was lined with charpoys, to sit and enjoy the scene while having a welcome drink, which was served as soon as we entered. This area acts more like a waiting area for you to be assigned a table.
While still enjoying the performances, a person soon came and announced our serial number and took us to the area where our food would be served. In India, traditionally we have our food sitting down, crossed legs. And so is done here. The food was served on plates and bowls made from leaves and fluids (water/buttermilk) in an earthen glassware called ‘Kullhad’.
There’s a different menu for Lunch and Dinner. Most times, the menu remains the same, maybe a slight change due to seasonal fruit/vegetable. The food was sumptuous, had a little too much, but no regrets.
Right from the starters (Dhoklas, Pakodas) to the main course (Khichdi, Bhakhri, Rotla and all sort of veggies) up till the dessert (Jalebi, halwa) everything was on point and tasty.
As a tip, just take a little bit of everything for starters and then the items you like you can take as second helping (stating the obvious, I know). The servers will stay around and keep coming and asking you if you need anything and are quite generous with the helpings (especially if its ghee!).
Food Suggestion: Do try the Garlic Chutney and white butter. And do not miss the buttermilk.
After the food is done, you can come back and enjoy the live music and dance, the puppet show, go to the utensil museum or just laze around (cause I know, after that food, you would want to).
The place combined with the ambience is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon or even evening for that matter if you are looking for a laid back, rustic foody experience.