Gujarati cuisine is the perfect marriage of sweet and sour and spicy flavours. Mainly vegetarian, it’s a combination of Kathiawadi, Kutchi, North and South Gujarati cuisines. Known for exploring the world for business and trade, Gujaratis have always welcomed local flavours into their cuisine, often creating new traditions. The Gujaratis in South Africa are no different and have created mouth-watering dishes such as Corn Rotlis and Bunny Chow (curry in half a loaf of bread, which had a chequered history in South Africa's recent past). Fish also has a special place in the South African Gujarati cuisine. Now it’s traditional to eat fish on Gujarati New Year. Another Gujarati specialty is Farsan — fried, salted and crispy snacks like Dhokla, Undhiyo, Khandvi, Khichdi, Kharkharia, Gathia, Sev, Muthia and Bhajias. A Gujarati thali contains savoury and sweet delights, both eaten together.
Khandvi or Pathudi
A common Gujarati melt in the mouth savoury snack, another recipe that may be forgotten and not made in many homes because you need to be quick when the dough reaches a certain temperature else you’ll end up with thick lump of batter. I learnt to make this from my mum from a young age and still make it today.
Channa/kadala flour: 130 gm
Curd: 125 ml
Salt: 1 tsp
Water: 350 ml
Crushed green chillies: 1 tsp
Crushed ginger: 1 tsp
Crushed garlic: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Lime juice: 1 tsp (omit if curd is sour)
Oil: 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Sesame seeds: 1 tsp
Fresh shredded coconut for sprinkling
Keep 2 or 3 large trays ready to spread the mixture, oil the back of the tray.
Mix all ingredients together and beat with an egg beater.
Pour mixture into a pot on high flame, bring it to a boil but continue mixing, then lower flame and keep stirring for 6-7 minutes, lumps may form but continue mixing till it dissolves.
Test a tiny bit of batter on a tray to see if it can spread evenly and check if it can be rolled, if not continue stirring the mixture and test again (be careful when doing the test that the mixture in the pot does not form lumps).
When the test batter rolls correctly, pour half the batter on the tray and spread thinly with a spatula. You need to be quick with the remaining batter — as it cools it will become thick and won’t spread easily.
Once all the batter is spread on the tray, make the vagaar.
Heat the oil and add the mustard and sesame seeds, when they splutter, switch off the gas.
Spread some vagaar over the patudi and sprinkle the shredded coconut.
Let it cool and cut around 5 cm strips. Roll the strips like a swiss roll and arrange on a plate. Garnish with chopped coriander and any leftover vagaar.
A cotton-like mithai, Sutherfeni is certainly a forgotten recipe because it takes 3 days to prepare and needs plenty of patience. I learnt to make this mithai from a family friend in South Africa. I don’t know anyone else that still makes sutherfeni at home. It’s flavoured with cardamom and saffron and scented with floral essence, topped with almond and pistachios.
Cornflour: 25 gm plus more for dusting
Butter: 25 gm
Oil: 1 tsp
Maida: 120 gm
Cold water: 120 ml
Oil for frying
Rose water: 125 ml
Sugar: 125 gm
Cardamom powder: ½ tsp
Saffron: a pinch
Almonds or pistachios
Notes: Keep dough covered during all stages using a damp cloth.
Extras: Oil, wax paper
Step 1: Mix maida and cornflour with water to form a stiff dough. Leave it overnight covered with a damp cloth. Next day make 12 small balls and roll each ball like a thin rope (about 40 cm long). Place each rope on an oiled tray adjacent to each other and keep covered with a damp cloth.
Step 2: Mix cornflour, butter and oil to form a paste. Spread the cornflour paste over the surface of the dough ropes.
Sprinkle the top with 1 tbsp of cornflour. Gather ropes and roll up like a swiss roll, set aside for 30 minutes covered.
Step 3: Start from the middle of the swiss roll, pulling tightly to draw the swiss roll into a thin rope. Continue pulling till fine threads are formed, there will be several strands that will form. Roll each strand of rope around the forefinger and thumb about 30 times and then cut off. Dip this in oil and lay it back in the tray and keep covered, continue with the rest of the strands until all the strands are used up and leave it to rest for 10 minutes under a damp cloth.
Step 4: Place each round piece between wax paper and flatten slowly with the palm of your hand from the top centre, it will spread sideways like a poori.
Step 5: Deep fry each piece in heated oil. Drain thoroughly in a colander or wired rack or placing the rings on paper towel. Cover with a wet towel and keep overnight.
Step 6: Next day mix rose water, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron till dissolved. Sprinkle or use a spray bottle and spray generously on each sutherfeni. You can dust more castor sugar if you like, together with almonds or pistachios or coloured almonds.
A simple, crispy, sweet type of poori made with sesame seeds and cardamom. Eaten plain or dunked in tea, this snack is not made in many homes these days. You need to leave the rolled pooris overnight to dry out before frying. This recipe was handed down to me from my aunt who is a fantastic baker and cook.
Sugar: 1 cup
Milk: 1 cup
Sesame seeds: ½ cup
Maida: 4 cups
Ghee: 5 tbsp
powder: ½ tsp
Oil for frying
Boil the sugar, milk and sesame seeds together till sugar melts, set aside to cool down.
Rub ghee in maida and cardamom till its texture turns like breadcrumbs. Carefully add the milk mixture to form a stiff dough.
Form small ball shapes and roll thinly using a rolling pin.
Leave them to dry out overnight covered with a net.
Fry in medium oil till lightly browned, be careful as they brown quickly.
Drain oil and store in air tight container.
— The chef is Meena Manchoo-Bhana, a Gujarati who grew up in South Africa and now lives in Kozhikode, Kerala....