Located on the Sarkhej Gandhinagar Highway, opposite of the popular Iskon Temple, Novotel Ahmedabad attracts both tourists and businessmen. The hotel is flanked by high-rise office buildings and busy shopping malls, yet the moment you step inside, you’re greeted by a cozy and tranquil atmosphere. During my recent Gujarat trip, I was invited to a lunch at The Square. The Square offers a multi-cuisine buffet as well as an a la carte selection of global dishes. However, since I was eager to experience the different facets of Gujarati cuisine, I opted for the Gujarati Thali.
Gujarati cuisine is reputed for its outstanding array of snacks and savouries that are collectively referred to as Farsan. Unlike in most other Indian cuisines, Gujaratis enjoy Farsaan not only with their afternoon tea, but also with their meals. Quite appropriately, the Gujarathi Thali curated by Executive Chef Rakesh Prasad features a sumptuous array of Farsan. We began with the refreshing Kachumber Salad and quickly moved on to the delicious Khakra (crispy and crunchy Indian flat breads), and the light and addictive Fafdas (crunchy gram flour fritters). Also on offer were the iconic Khaman (gram flour cakes), the universally loved Peyanj ke Pakori (Onion Fritters), and the distinctive Patra (Colocasia Leaf Rolls). We made quick work of the delicious Farsan, but realised that we might have been a tad to gluttonous once the main course arrived. The fully loaded Thali arrived with Puri, Thepla, Roti, Khichdi, and Pulao complemented by half a dozen sides including Gathia ke Sabzi, Gujarati Meethi Daal, and Kadhi. We finished our meal with a bowl of Shrikhand, the traditional dessert of Western Indian that’s prepared from sweetened hung curd.
The Gujarati Thali is not a part of the regular menu and needs to be ordered in advance. At Rs. 1,400 (approx., all inclusive), it’s more expensive than most thalis in the city. However, whether you want the authentic and rustic recipes or a newbie friendly introduction to the Gujarati cuisine, Chef Rakesh will tailor it to your wish.
After our resplendent lunch session, we were offered a guided walk around the property. The property is still young and under active development; however, it features all the essentials including multiple conference rooms, banquet area, swimming pool, spa, and gym. The facility that surprised me the most was perhaps the Liquor Store. Gujarat is quite famously a dry state, where consumption of alcohol is strictly restricted and bars are not permitted. However, tourists can obtain a permit to purchase and carry alcohol by furnishing the boarding passes. There are also laws that allow residents to get doctor’s permit for consumption of alcohol. However, there are only a handful of liquor stores across Gujarat, and almost all are attached to the star hotels. Novotel Ahmedabad features a well-stocked liquor from where you can buy bottles at the retail price as long as you have a permit.