About two and half years ago, while in India, I attended a wedding of a non-Gujarati couple. I was puzzled as to what could be the best gift, within parameters of the expenses justified by the relationship. Lucky as I am, I had another wedding I had to attend at a Gujarati Restaurant ‘Vishala’ a few kilometers away from my home. I found solution of my puzzle, bought a gift card for the couple at Vishala to give them an opportunity to have taste of traditional Gujarati food.
You will surely find authentic Punjabi food if you happen to stop by those roadside dhabas during one of your road trips. South Indian food is quite popular too. It always intrigued me as to why would any authentic Gujarati cuisines are scarce to find in different parts of world! And if it ever occurred to your mind or if you would ever want to explore traditional Gujarati cuisine, Vishala is your best bet.
Located near Vasna Toll Naka in Ahmedbad, the place is more a recreation of a Gujarati village in the largest city of the state. Typical dhoti, kediyu and paghadi clad men and Chania Choli clad women are there to welcome you at the entrance. In a fine ambience of nature, the village atmosphere has been created using Charpai, mud-huts and lanterns. There is that typical aroma of village with smell of charcoal grilles.
Vishala opens at 11 am and 1st course of meal includes ‘Taazagi’ and ‘Bapora (lunch in Gujarati)’. In Taazagi, you are served with hot and delicious Gujarati snacks and Bapora is a typical lunch with roti, sabzi, sweet and specialties. There is always a counter there for ice cream and cold drinks called ‘Barfila’, where you can also enjoy the Baraf (Ice) Gola in excruciating heat.
Then there is dinner which generally is true blue Gujarati food – Bajari Ki Roti in butter, at least two subjis, sweets, kadhi, achar, garlic chutney and of course how can a Gujarat course complete without Khichadi and Kadhi?
You just had your dinner and you are sitting on a charpai, in the translucent lighting of lanterns (no electric lighting there, come on it’s a village after all) having burps, probably with garlic flavor – a true blue ultimately calm, cool village experience in an environment full of rose aroma with light folk music playing in background – away from noise and pollution of big cities.
In between your different courses of meal, Vishala has variety of things to help you spend time. They have a ''Utensils Museum'' where more than 3500 utensils collected from all parts of India are beautifully exhibited with pure and authentic Gujarat architecture. It is really a tribute to the Craftsmen of India.
Vibhusa is a Vishala Complex where you can purchase handicrafts directly brought for you from the houses of Craftsmens.
Additionally they have Puppet Show and Jaadu Ka Khel, which people from all age groups will certainly enjoy. At the dinnertime they organize dance and music program called manoranjan to give your evening an authentic finishing touch.
So, if you happen to visit Ahmedabad, do not forget to experience this ultimate village in City.
Here is some useful information:
Address: Opp. Vasana Tol Naka, Ahmedabad-380055.
Phone: (079) 26602422, 26446554
Charges: Rs. 175 per head (that was in 2002 – not sure if they have increased it)
And here is a list of famous food items and the famous places to get them. Ask any native of Ahmedabad and he would definitely know their locations.
Fafda and Jalebis – Chandravilas
Pakodas – Raipur Bhajia House
Cold Drinks – Girish Cold Drinks
Khaman - Das
Softy and Ice Cream – Dairy Den, Havmore
Pau Bhaji – Honest
Chole Bhature – Havmore
This is the popular list as of 2000. I am sure there have been some additions to it but there are definitely no subtractions.