I have noticed there is something that all typical well-to-do Gujarati households seem to have in common. From my experience, they revel in a simple and minimalist design scheme, and are always impeccably clean (cleanliness being next to Godliness).
Swati Snacks is no different from many of these kind Gujarati households which I have had the pleasure of staying in. There are no creative flourishes, just surgically clean stainless steel trimmed tables and plain grey flooring. Some might call it sparse or even clinical, I would call it a masterpiece in having your priorities in order: at Swati, food is the focal point.
The fare is rich with symbolism for me and almost on a par with home cooked versions, owing to the adage “nothing beats ghar ka khana (home food).” This is also honest food, made and served without pretence: no expensive china plates (just yellow plastic crockery) and no frilly garnishes or breads on ‘presentation’ stands.
The Gatta Nu Shak is every bit the way I first remember: that was a few years back, when a Gujarati friend had decided to impress me with some home-cooked food. If there be a way to testify to the pride and confidence in one own’s cuisine, that gesture was it. I think this would be the cultural equivalent of an Italian cooking “Tortellini in Brodo”, a dish that is nationally accepted as a heart-warming comforting soup which can made in little time.
The Daal Dhokli is another good dish, putting the use of besan (chickpea flour) at centre stage (the dhoklis). Subtle hints of jaggery come through on each mouthful and give the dish that classically reassuring Gujarati sweetness. The Bajri Kichu is another interesting dish (made from bajra – millet flour). The Undhiyu, usually one of my favourites, was the weakest. The use of garlic was excessive and detracted from the overall taste. The masala tea to finish , however ,was perfect with a very lively amount of ginger!
If there’s a wider point to made here it’s that a region’s food, in particular Gujarati cuisine, is uniquely intertwined with its cultural identity. For many it also evokes a whole host of childhood memories, whether that be Ba’s breakfast or that special festival dish; for me, not being so rooted in the culture, such food communicates fond memories of warm Gujarati hospitality, old friendships and business acquaintances. Swati Snack’s food goes some way to evoking such treasured notions…