A carnivore’s guide to Gujarat

Our guide to non-vegetarian fare in the former stronghold of vegetarian food

The culinary tide is slowly turning in Gujarat and non-vegetarians have more than just a glimmer of hope of a satisfying meal. As migrants pour into the state, restaurants serving non-vegetarian fare have started sprouting in towns and cities in Gujarat.

To meet the sudden surge in the demand for non-vegetarian food, global chains are setting shop in Gujarat. And they aren’t doing too badly. In Ahmedabad, non-vegetarian food accounts for almost 80 percent of the total sales at Barbeque Nation and about 60 percent of sales at Subway.

Food in Ahmedabad is known for its characteristic sweetness, as sugar is added to nearly all preparations. Non-vegeratian dishes are no exception. Barbeque Nation tempers the spice levels in its dishes. Pleasure Trove on Ashram Road at Nehru Bridge Corner, is a haven for those seeking good seafood or even global cuisine. The younger generation clearly enjoys experimenting with its food. Mirch Masala on SG Highway serves chicken and mutton biryani and kebabs while KBOB’s on Drive-In Road has people lining up for mutton seekhs, chicken tikka, chicken rara and prawn biryani.

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Hotels too have mastered the art of serving lip-smacking non-vegetarian fare without hurting the sentiments of local vegetarians. “Non-vegetarian food is served in our all-day dining MoMo café, as well as in banquets and room service.There is good demand for non-vegetarian food from non-resident Gujaratis and of course, travellers from outside the state,”says Satej Saigaonkar, executive chef, Courtyard by Marriott, Ahmedabad. Varieties of seafood such as salmon, smoked salmon, tuna, Vietnamese basa, shrimp and prawns, along with some international chicken dishes are the current favourites at the hotel.

The story is no different in Vadodara. Ashutosh Chhibba, general manager, Welcomhotel Vadodara, explains, “At banquet functions, non-vegetarian fare ranges between 35 and 40 percent, primarily for corporate events, whereas, social or family functions are almost always vegetarian. In restaurants, non-vegetarian food materialisation is about, 60 to 65 percent. This is also due to the fact that most of our guests are corporate travellers who are not from Gujarat. Chicken is the most popular choice by a wide margin, followed by mutton and seafood. Eggs too are gaining huge popularity among the local population.”

This trend for non-vegetarian food is clearly visible in standalone restaurants in Vadodara too. Places like Mainland China, Subway and Barbeque Nation are always packed. 24 Carats, Express Hotel in Alkapuri is a delight for Continental and Mughlai cuisine. Lazeez and Moti Mahal in Alkapuri, satiate the appetite of those enjoying hearty non-vegetarian Moghlai food.

In Surat too, it is no different, with Chicken being the most sought after meat in an otherwise conservative city. Patel Chicken at Bardoli in Surat is suddenly a fashionable address. Whether it is tandoori chicken or chicken tikkas, this is the place to be. The open-air grill restaurant Nanwadi Chicken on the Surat-Navsari Highway is yet another favourite that chicken-lovers make a beeline for. Their Pathani chicken is legendary.  Raja Tandoori on Station Road is also famous for chicken dishes.

The non-vegetarian buffet spread at Taste of India in Surat is a gourmet’s delight. Khyber on Ring Road is one’s best bet for Mughlai food. Sugar N Spice is popular for its chilli chicken frankie and youngsters are seen patiently queuing here. Its affordably priced all-you-can-eat buffet is also hugely popular.

With an influx of a cosmopolitan crowd into Gujarat, non-vegetarian food is no longer taboo. The Gujarati palate has come of age.

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