Kathiyawadi Food Festival at WelcomHotel showcases a remote corner of India

It is a generally arid region, but Kathiyawad sure does produce some good food! The area was represented well at the Kathiyawadi Food Festival organised at the restaurant Jacaranda at WelcomHotel — an ITC property — in Bengaluru.

Curated by Chef Dhawal Ajmera, who is a Kathiyawadi himself, the cuisine represents a culture that is rarely seen beyond a section of Gujarat.

By Ajmera’s own admission, chefs from Kathiyawad — on the western side of Gujarat — rarely venture out of their home territory. That was one of the reasons why he chose to curate this festival: to introduce Bengaluru to a new cuisine.

What is Kathiyawadi cuisine?

Ajmera explained to Times of Food that Kathiyawadi cuisine is spice-wise more robust than Gujarati food.

Also, food from the region takes into account things like the prevailing heat, which can dehydrate people easily.

And while some communities like the Memons and Vohras do eat meat, Kathiyawadi cuisine is primarily vegetarian, said Ajmera.

Now, this vegetarian fare has quite a bit of culture and history associated with it. Take for example Undhiyun, a dish that Ajmera described to this correspondent as a a “complete meal in itself.”

The dish is made from vegetables that are traditionally cooked under a bonfire. Yes, under a bonfire.

In fact, the word Undhiyun roughly translates to “upside down” — a reference to the actual cooking taking place under the fire instead of over it!

Clockwise from left: Thepla, Baingan Bharta and Chholey at Kathiyawadi Food Festival at WelcomHotel ITC in Bengaluru. | Image credit: Arkadev Ghoshal/Times of Food

Bringing Kathiyawad to Bengaluru

What prompted Ajmera to introduce Bengaluru to Kathiyawadi cuisine was not only the idea of bringing something new to the city, but also the metropolis’ hunger for vegetarian food.

“The crowd in Bengaluru is receptive to cultures from outside. Also, they like experimental food,” he said. “What is presented here is simple, home-cooked food,” he added.

“I want people to know the food of Kathiyawad, which is rich in heritage,” explained Ajmera in short.

About the Kathiyawadi Food Festival

The Kathiyawadi Food Festival started at Jacaranda at WelcomHotel from April 22, and will continue till April 30.

The spread is available only for dinners, the timing being from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm. You may walk in for a bite, but making a prior reservation is highly encouraged.

The spread costs Rs 1,200 per person, excluding taxes, but you get to eat the normal fare served at Jacaranda as well!

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