When you travel to Kutch in the winters, the land is barren, after all you’re deep in the desert. It’s biting cold. The temperature goes down to 6 degrees and even lower. It’s called the White Rann of Kutch and the best time to see these desert sands is on a full moon night when they glisten under the moonlight. It’s also absolutely wonderful what technology can do. The place, which is arid and dry and scorching in the summers becomes a flourishing tourist spot in the winter months. I stayed in a tent, there are tents for every budget. You certainly can’t call them basic, there’s steaming hot water coming out of the bathroom taps when you want it.
The food is sumptuous and everyone who attends the festival enjoys the food. There’s so much variety and the organisers keep everyone’s tummies full. There was toast and milk and cornflakes and fruit and fruit juice and tea and coffee, and poha and chole puri and upma and tiny uttapams and freshly made theplas and pickle, one day for breakfast.
Kutchi hospitality is renowned and so is the honesty of the locals. The locals are not well off and winter tourism is a boon for them. Our hosts exuded warmth and none of our belongings went missing, ever.
There is time to relax and rest and enjoy the winter sun if you wish to and enjoy at your own pace, or you can participate in adventure sports, go on a bus tour to see the sunrise and sunset over the desert, go see the palace of the Kutch royals, shop till you drop, and visit the art gallery in the Tent City. And there’s more…..
The Kutch Festival is held from Nov 15th to Jan 15th every year. You can book online. Just don’t forget to take your woolens along.
On a tour I took, the guide made us taste the original Kutchi Dabeli in Mandvi, which is known for its ship building besides. And the beautiful palace of the Kutch royals.
I’ve made it and here is the recipe. Try it at home. It tastes of love mainly, eaten freshly made.
3 tablespoons dabeli masala- store bought
3 tablespoons sweet date chutney plus 8 teaspoons more to spread on the buns
3 tablespoons oil
3 cups boiled, peeled and mashed potatoes
8 dabeli buns, any plain buns will also do.
8 teaspoons garlic chutney
2 medium onions, finely chopped
Some finely chopped fresh coriander
3/4 cup roughly crushed masala peanuts
3/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
3/4 cup fine sev
4 tablespoons butter
1 In a small bowl add the dabeli masala to the sweet chutney and mix. Heat the oil on medium flame and pour this mix into the hot oil. Cook for a few seconds. Now add the peeled and mashed potatoes to the hot oil mix and give the masala and potatoes a good stir. Keep this potato filling aside.
2. Take a dabeli pav or a bun and cut horizontally in half. Spread some garlic chutney on the insides of each of the dabeli pav( bun) halves. Next, spread the sweet date chutney on each half bun. Spread a layer of the potato filling on to the bottom half (over the chutney). Sprinkle some coriander, some peanuts and some pomegranate, then top it off with some fine sev. Cover this half bun with the top half. Prepare the other dabeli buns the same way.
3. In a non stick pan put two blobs of butter and heat. Put 4 dabelis into the pan and cook till golden brown, first the base and then overturturned. Remove from the pan and serve hot.