Gujaratis are one of the largest communities of Mumbai. After the Maharashtrians of course. They form the base of the trading community here and a number of them own shops, are in the diamond business and so. Just as one calls Bengalis, Bongs, Gujaratis are called "Gujjus".
The key food association with Gujaratis are that they are vegetarians and that their dishes are very sweet. I know this is as sweeping a generalisation as 'all Bengalis love fish', (I don't) but I guess it holds true for most.
There are a number of Gujurati thali joints such as Samrat, Golden Star Thali (our favourite) and Rajdhani (which has opened quite a few modern looking branches recently).
I went there (Rajdhani, Charni Rd) with some office folks recently.
The basic plot is similar to most Gujarati thalis.
They start of with a few snack items called 'farsan' - samosa, dhokla, tikki.
They then fill the tiny bowls with a variety of vegetarian subzis and dals (including a very sweet one) and kadi (this is a sweet dahi/ curd based dish as against the Sindhi, besan based, kadi). You also get a a choice of hot rotis topped with ghee. This is the best part of the meal.
This is followed by steamed rice annd khichdi (daal and rice porridge).
A mix of Indian sweets end the meal.
I know this post sounds a bit cold, bland and not very exciting. But I can't pretend to be otherwise. I follow the great Anthony Bourdain's lust for flesh. A Gujju thali is not our scene. It's more an Olympic event for people like Kainaz and me. Something to be had once in four years.
Though honestly, the food is not bad. Also it is worth trying out for the experience. It is quite a busy affair with waiters coming one after the other to refill your plate. In fact I found it quite difficult to take a photo of the group with the constant stream of waiters. And at Rajdhani they come and wash your hands at the end!
It is also the sort of place where you can take an out of towner to give a flavour of ethnic Mumbai. As long as the out of towner isn't Anthony Bourdain!
The average cost at such restaurants is about Rs 250 (5 USD) per head.