The train was passing through lush green fields, making its rhythmic sounds and announcing itself with a hoot here and there. It had rained earlier and everything was looking pristine. The gentle rocking movement of the train and a wonderful AC compartment was an added incentive to just go for a nap. She had spent the morning in a huff puff to get all her stuff packed reach the train station on time. So she truly had earned the nap.
As she began to prepare her Upper berth for a restful afternoon nap, the co passengers sprung into action for a lunch. They mentioned that it would be nice to enjoy the afternoon nap after a good lunch. She smiled at them and told them to go on and eat and climbed up to her berth and opened a book to read while they ate and talked all they wanted. She was looking forward to the nap and did not want it to be disturbed by anything. She would wait, she decided.
Zip, click, tuk, thump and then a wide array of aromas later emerged a plate full of food right near her nose. Surprised she looked at the holder of the plate with questioning eyes. “ Beta Thoda Khana kha lo”, ( Eat some food, Kiddo) the middle age lady with the plate was saying. “Aunty, ( usual way of addressing someone your moms age in India) I had a heavy breakfast, not hungry right now”, she said.
“Acha Zara sa chakh lo, yeh Humare Gujarat Ka khana hai”, ( Alright, How about you just taste a bit, its food from our Gujarat) the husband of the lady said. Now she did not know what to say to two very kind people. Her thoughts kept going to the Roganjosh her mom had packed with soft fluffy parathas ( pan fried flaky bread). And clearly her co passengers were vegetarians. She was not very fond of vegetarian food.
But she really couldn’t say “No”. The couple was waiting for her to respond and they were looking at her with a lot of warmth. She gave in and said “ Gujarat! Wah! Maine kabhi Gujarati khana nahi khaya”! ( Wow, I have never eaten Gujarati food). Except for the fake enthusiasm for the Gujarati food, she told them the truth. She had never tasted any Gujarati food.
So she climbed back down, and sat with them to eat. As they started to explain the dishes they had carried with them, she began to make mental notes. Only to go back and write to her Dad and Mom about the adventures she had while on the train.
Out came the raw banana bhaji, mango pickle, banana and peas curry, a couple of chutneys, yogurt and finally came the thepla. She was intrigued. “ Is it like the paratha, Aunty”? “No! Beta, this is thepla”.
“oh!, so how do you make it”?, and “how did you make such delicious Banana peas curry without potatoes and onions and garlic and even tomatoes”? “what is in this chutney”? And she only stopped asking questions when she was eating. After the fulfilling and wonderfully delicious meal, she helped clean up and then went to take the nap and slept blissfully.
When she reached her destination, she promised the couple that she will always remember them and the journey that expanded her knowledge about a different culture, Jainism and its ‘SpiceRoots’. She doesn’t get to go on long train journeys now but yearns for them. And she remembers that train journey with “Uncle and Aunty” – the journey that made a lasting impression in her heart with a plateful of home cooked nourishing food and two simple, hardworking, loving people.
She went on to marry a guy from Gujarat and makes him the “train wali aunty” ke theple every now and then and sends a thought of “Thank You” to the couple and tells them “ I married a Saras Meetho Chokro”( a sweet and good man)
This turned out great for me. Thanks for the recipe! My first attempt didn’t quite turn out, but the next one did. cheers!
I loved your photos and recipe so I featured it at my Blog. Check it out here http://potsoup.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/what-the-world-eats-india-gujarat/
Parcel me some or I am coming 🙂 droolworthy thepla..
What a delightful story to go with such yummylicious thepla, the array of achars on side are really tongue ticklers.
Thanks Sukanya. Theplas and Pickles are a match made in heaven
hey anshie, i coming to your home to have the theplas with so many achaars 🙂
Absolutely Dassana. It would be fun to have you over. I think it is a great idea.
I love eating theplas and my all time fav is methi thepla, have had in abundance during our stay in Gujarat and simple love it…feel tempted seeing your pics….
These are our “Must” have travel food. Simple and filling.
When I was little, I often wondered ( and sometimes got annoyed) how easily my Mom made ‘friends’ when traveling.. but now, over the years, I see how people bond when they travel, over destination and food.
Gujarati food is a long time favorite at my Mom’s, we all love it and specially go out to eat Guju Thali!
Love the Theplas. Ekdum saras che! (hope I got that right);)
Manasi, where the rest of the world sees sharing food as improper, we think it is improper not to share. We share a part of our story and culture through food and develop a deep bond. Got to Love India and its people.
love fenugreek! Never made thepla but had it a couple of times before.
Make it, Kankana. The process of making them is quite soulful in itself.
Recipe with a bonus story.. makes my day Ansh. keep writing such stories with the recipe. Love reading each word of it.
Thanks Ash. You made my day 🙂
Oh yes, I remember train journeys very well myself. I call them ‘taste of India’ journeys. What a lovely post, and such delicious looking theplas. Thanks for sharing Ansh!!
Thanks Mich. I miss train journeys. There is so much romance in them:)
wow…the theplas look so so delicious….beautiful clicks!!!!!!
Thanks Sonali 🙂
Lovely theplas… and i loved those cute bowls by the side.. yummy clicks
Thanks Anusha 🙂
Lovely story. My daughter moves back home today and her favorite chicken tikka is on the menu tomorrow night. I think I will add this to the line up. Beautiful colors and photos.
Loved every bit of this story. I have so many memories of shared lunches with co-passengers on long train journeys…somehow we never maintained contacts after reaching our destinations, somehow we all knew this ‘good time’ is going to last for the journey only and still everyone was so warm and sharing..we shared food, stories of our lives and a little bit of ourselves with each of them. Eating your own food without offering it to those around you, even if they are complete strangers, was considered sorta rude and refusing something offered with so much warmth was hurtful too..so we always shared and the homemade food made in the strangers kitchen made us feel right at home…even in that moving train. 🙂
Two gujarati businessmen once shared with us the lovingly packed lunch by their wives, the farsan, shaak, and atleast 7-8 different things! A treat I’ll never forget all my life. 🙂
Absolutely agree Priti. We consider it impolitenot to share. We share a part of our story and culture through food and develop a deep bond. Got to Love My India and its people.
Awww..so cute write up .. btw now i’m a bit intrusive but still is that you or just fiction 😉
Also loved the lovely pickless lines up .. what are the varieties ??
LOL.. True story ! The pickles are Date pickle, turmeric and green mango pickle, green chilli pickle, garlic pickle, tomato pickle and mixed pickle 🙂
Theplas are the ultimate travel food. Their fame has spread and even non-gujjus have theplas as a part of their travel kit.
Lovely story. Wonder if the theplas led you to your gujju boy 😉 🙂
Ha! did the theplas lead me to him ? That is a secret 😉
One of them is made with dates. I am sourcing the recipe 🙂
And those achars are just mouth watering
Thanks Inara 🙂
LOL!! Yes you are!! Hugs!
You made another Gujju boy happy. Lovely story. Of course we’re sweet, look at our methu diet!
Thanks Dillon 🙂