If you are a foodie and love Indian food, Surat should come on top of your list. Surat is known for things other than its flourishing diamond and textile industry too. The variety of the foodstuff here will amaze you. From Gujarati specialities to Bombay pav bhaji, Surat offers it all. Suratis are crazy foodies. Even if you are not an outdoor person, the enthusiasm and energy of Suratis will rub off on you.
Surat is essentially a vegetarian place. Here reside people who do not even consume eggs and then, there are the Jains, who do not consume anything with onions and garlics in it. There are very few restaurants offering non vegetarian food.
But Surati food preparation will make you non vegetarian lovers leave non veg aside for a while (believe me; I am saying it with experience). The yummy silk khaman, the buttery paranthas, cheesy sandwiches, the malai kulfis, the delectable ice golas, the adorable golgappas, the array of chats from Delhi and Rajasthan, the variety of handvos – I bet you won’t be able to select just one dish. You will be enticed to overeat!
Surat offers some Surati specialities like Lochu (A paste made of gram flour and flavoured with garlic and other spices, served with Oil and coriander chutney). Try Lochu at Jani Farsan (Opp. Sargam Complex, Parle Point) and the variety of chats and kulfi at Gangor, God Dod road.
Saturday and Sunday are peak crowd days. No one stays at home on weekend evenings! People troupe out in huge groups– to eat, to socialize and to roam around generally. From the Kamrej Chowk (where the highway starts) till Magdalla (the other end of the city), each thela, ice ream parlour, dhaaba and restaurant is crowded, with people waiting outside for their turn. Surat is probably the only city, after Bombay probably, where people flock in even at 11:00 pm in restaurants.
Here exists a unique practice which I call ‘Footpath eateries’. I don’t think this system exists anywhere else in our country. On both sides of the Surat-Dumas road, in Piplod area, are lined with people sitting on footpaths and eating. The footpath is lined with several hawkers selling paranthas, pav bhaji, corn, sandwiches and frankies. The hawkers spread chatai in front of their thelas for their customers. If not, people just bring their own food and have it there. I had never tried this before but wanted to experience it. And I did so recently; though on a weekday, when the crowd was scanty. And I assure you, you are going to love the experience of sitting on the wide footpath, the shiny lights of Iscon Mall, Big Bazaar and Chroma gleaming over you and cars zipping past. This is a strict don’t-miss if you are visiting Surat. You cannot leave from Surat without experiencing the footpath eateries.
You will find the hawkers to be gracious, cheerful and kind. They actually enjoy feeding people. One such paranthas hawker gave us an extra parantha by mistake and refused to charge us for it. Not only did we eat the extra parantha, we also paid him the full money. After all, his paranthas are to die for.
The foothpath attracts joint families (I needen’t mention joint families specially, because Suratis ALWAYS travel with their extended families) and college kids.
Suratis are generous, warm and energetic. There is a lot to learn from them. Visit these eateries, especially during the weekends, to see how Suratis enjoy. No one does it better than them!
263 kms from Bombay
255 kms from Ahmedabad
Regular trains run between Ahmedabad and Bombay, the 2 commercial capitals of 2 important states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Popular food rates:
Lochu (per plate) – Rs. 50
Parantha (per plate. Curd, chutney, pickle complimentary) – Rs. 40
Handvo (per plate) – Rs. 40-60
Malai Kulfi – Rs. 40
Chats (per plate) – Rs. 30 - 60