Village in the heart of the city

"A lot of thalis that you get are half Gujarati and half Rajasthani, so if you want a real Gujju thali, go to Vishalla," said Dr. Gandhi, a Gujarati surgeon. We needed no other affirmation. A quick check on the map showed a travel time of about 45 minutes from the Ahmedabad Holiday Inn Express, but we decided that we were going to go for it. Uber took us to the area in about 30 minutes and then we spent a good 20 minutes looking for the place. It has no sign board. Taking the road diagonally opposite the APMC, Ahmedabad, we lurked around and walked into something that looked like a brick wall. Suddenly the village theme stared at us.

Tents, coir cots with a sheet on them are all the 'interiors,' but the open air 'setting' exudes a true village (theme) feel. You choose your thali, pay upfront and get seated on the cots with tables the same height as the cots. Feel comfortable to remove shoes and sit up on the cots if you must. Water in true earthen mud pots (not the fancy fake ones, but real mud pots where you can almost taste the clay). The thali priced at Rs. 550, comes first with a fabulous butter milk. Like really really fresh butter milk. Then the thali plate with a nicely balanced vegetarian meal. 4 chapatis (you can ask for either chapatis or puris), a bowl of rice, four bowls of gravies with loads of veggies in them, a pappad, dokhlas, pickle, some salad and two sweets.

The dokhlas weren't sweet at all, contrary to my idea of Gujju food being super sweet. It had a nice savoury flavour. The sambar was indeed sweet, but in a nice way. The dhal gravy was perfectly non-spicy, but not sweet. While I tend to associate thin dhal with poor quality and taste, the dhal here stamped on my misconception. Thin, but utterly delicious. The best of the lot was the corn gravy, with its tangy tomato base added with an element of pickled flavours. My friend's puri meal was a generous five puris with the potato gravy of the thali.

The best dish of the day was the sweet. While the jelabi was excellent, the sweet burfi type thing was my favourite. I am unable to describe its flavours, but it was simply sweet. Like a combination of khova and, well, I don't know. I need to trace it down. Our Gujju doctor knows the sweet, has had it, but doesn't know it's name. The waiter, when I asked him what it was called, promptly said, 'shweet.'

Vishalla is located near the APMC market in Ahmedabad. There is a full Gujju unlimited buffet for dinner and a limited thali for lunch and is pure vegetarian.

P.S. I found the name of the sweet. It is called a Mohanthal or Gajjar Burfi (Carrot Burfi). Don't miss it.