Hot fafra with a handful of papaya chutney, a couple of quick-fried green chilis, and some jalebis to balance the taste. All wrapped up in a cone of old newspaper. And chai. That’s the breakfast we’d looked forward to when we arrived by the early morning flight to Bhuj. We refused the breakfast buffet in the hotel and asked Sikandar (oh yes, the name is the equivalent of Alexander) to take us to his favourite roadside breakfast place. He looked a little taken aback as he said “It’s a little late for breakfast, but let’s see.”
It was late, but not very late. We could get the breakfast cart to fry up some fafra. I love this breakfast. Everything is fried. A nice change from our usual yoghurt and fruit, or toast and cheese breakfasts. But Sikandar had a different muqaddar in mind for us. As our driver for the day he’d appointed himself the representative of overwhelming Bhujio hospitality. Before we’d finished, he dumped a couple of paper plates on the table. And then the cart chap slapped another packet wrapped in newpaper on the table, along with a plate of syrupy chutney.
At other times we love dhoklas. These were hot, fluffy, steamed pieces. We wouldn’t have minded them at all. But in the streets of Bhuj you don’t just have dhokla. You have a plateful of loaded dhokla: drenched in savoury and sweet chutneys, topped with spiced yoghurt and sev, and with fried green chili on the side. The other newspaper packet unfolded to reveal crisp dal pakodas. We were busy sending photos to friends and family, and getting more suggestions for things to eat in response. The only sensible statement came from an old college friend, “Seems like a lot.” I would remember it the rest of the day.