With an initiative to educate people about the intricacies of Gujarati cuisine Ba Ni Rasoi started operations in New Delhi after being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September. Serving authentic Gujarati food at a very pocket-friendly price is their forte, besides serving an endless number of helpings of their lunch and dinner thaalis.
Snacks served in beautiful terracotta plates make your soul crave for more wonderfully variant Gujarati dishes. Bengal and Gujarat are perhaps the only two states with innumerable varieties of dishes. While Bengal has a variety of both vegetarian and meat/fish based dishes, Gujarati cuisine excels in snacks and all things vegetarian. It’s healthy, tasty, and abides by the concept of sattvik diet due to the influence of Jain vegetarianism.
Ba Ni Rasoi serves an incredible amount of yummy dishes in their lunch thali (that I was overwhelmed trying…) Although, the menu changes slightly every day, the basics remain the same. It would contain a sharbat, snacks like khaman or methi vadas, steamed rice, a sweet dal, roti, khichdi, kadhi, undhiyu, dum aloo, and basundi.
Back to home
I am not from Gujarat, have never been there either, but Ba Ni Rasoi’s authentic Gujarati dishes reminded me of home cooked food back in Kolkata. The simplicity, hygiene, and balance maintained are strikingly similar. Growing up in a household that believed in a nutritious and healthy diet and not a rich diet bordering on high protein intake, this lunch thaali felt like home. The undhiyu, which gets its ingredients transported from Gujarat to maintain the original quality and taste, was pretty exotic. It is basically a mixed vegetable dish containing coconut and jaggery/palm sugar with assorted green vegetables and yams.
The kadhi is very different from the Punjabi kadhi, which contain pokade (fritters). It is meant to be savoured with their delightful khichdi. While the Punjabi kadhi is made with besan and yoghurt, this one uses buttermilk for a thinner and smoother consistency; also it is sweet. Something as basic as khichdi won me over with the very delectable flavour of the desi ghee tingling my tastebuds. A lingering aroma of cinnamon added glamour to the otherwise mild sadi khichdi.
And then there was basundi – a milk based dessert, for happy sweet endings! It is very similar to kheer except for the fact that it is all condensed milk and malai and no rice. Basundi, in fact, tastes a lot like rabdi, but in the liquid form. Flavoured with nutmeg and cardamom, and garnished with a very generous amount of chopped pistachios and almonds, Ba Ni Rasoi’s basundi can be declared the star of their lunch thaali.
Remember that yellow spongy snack you often have in the evening called dhokla? Well, as it turns out, it is called khaman in Gujarat, whereas, what is actually called dhokla is quite different in taste and appearance from our commonly known dhokla (khaman).
Khaman is primarily made of gram flour (which gives it the yellow colour), soda (which makes it spongy). Dhokla on the other hand is prepared with chickpea and rice powder, for which it is white and tastes very different. However, the preparation method is similar for both the farsan (side dishes); they are both steamed.
Why so sweet?
Ever wondered why Gujarati dishes are predominantly sweet? Well, it is so for the climate of the state. Being a rather dry state (no pun intended) with very few sources of fresh drinking water, the available water is slightly saline in nature. To counter this, there is extensive use of sugar in all dishes to rule out the salinity. Another reason for using sugar in food is to maintain the sodium-potassium level of the body. Just the way ORS works wonders during a hot summer day in Delhi, the use of appropriate amount of sugar and salt in regular dishes helps one sustain energy, and live through the dry heat.
Don’t forget to drop by
Not only is the food cheap, but also tasty. They also have other cuisines in their menu in case you want to try out something else, but it is a vegetarian restaurant. Whether you like or dislike vegetarian dishes, you cannot dislike Gujarati snacks, and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed by the hospitality at Ba Ni Rasoi.
Where: Garvi Gurajat Bhavan, Akbar Road
Lunch thaali: Rs 355 (unlimited serving)
Dinner thaali: Rs 555 (unlimited serving)