The Thepla, Khakhra, Chunda and Mukhwaas Bag

When Gujjus (and I suspect others as well) travel long distance, there is usually one bag that occupies pride of place on their luggage trolleys and carts and is protected with utmost care to ensure that nothing inside breaks.
This is what they usually contain.
1. Theplas.
These can be plain, sweet or made with methi. They have to be eaten quickly because even though they are well protected in foil or Tupperware-type containers, their shelf life remains short and they usually start spoiling after 2-3 days. They are great for a late night snack, for breakfast or for dunking in some readymade chai and land up being real lifesavers when there is no access to vegetarian restaurants, at odd hours, in strange cities.
2. Chunda.
What are theplas without chunda! Chunda is a type of pickle, made of small raw-mango strips, swimming in a gooey, sweet and sour base, usually orange or red in color. Though theplas and chunda are usually eating like chapatis and sabzi, one great way of eating a thepla is to smear it with chunda and then to roll it up like a Frankie.
3. Khakhras.
These are thin, crisp, papad-like chapatis. They however break quite easily and have to be packed with a great deal of care – I know some people who even bubble-wrap them. Khakhras can be eaten at all times and go really well with ghee and sugar or ghee and masala as well as readymade masala chai. As I wrote last year, there is a bewildering variety of khakhras, including Schezwan ones, available today.
44 Readymade Masala Chai.
No true Gujju drinks “dip-dip” chai, which is probably why the market for powdered ready-made masala chai is flourishing. All you need to do is add some hot water and voila! a cup of reasonably terrible and tasteless masala tea is ready. The bad taste can be mitigated by using the tea as a dunking medium; for theplas, khakhras, and if you have children in tow, Parle Gluco biscuits.
5. Parle Gluco Biscuits.
It doesn’t matter which brand and which company brings out which type of glucose biscuits. In the end, it’s only Parle Gluco biscuits. When you have recalcitrant kids creating a big fuss during meals, all you have to do is to open one packet, whip up a cup of ready-made masala chai and bingo! your kid is happy eating soggy, dunked Parle Gluco biscuits. Parle Gluco biscuits are so ubiquitous that according to popular folklore, every “Indian” store in the world is supposed to have at least one shelf dedicated to them.
6. Kela Wafers.
If you live in Matunga, you have access to some of the most wonderful kela (banana) wafers in India, either from one of the shops on the Circle or from the cart-vendor, near the Market, who makes them fresh. A couple of packets of crunchy wafers are extremely useful during picnics or long-day trips and with whiskey shots.
7. Gor-Papdi.
This is a sweet produced from jaggery, wheat-flour and ghee. Each small triangle is power-packed with calories and makes for a nice, small, post-dinner, desert treat.
8. Mukhwaas.
Which Gujju food bag would be complete without at least a couple of packets of mukhwaas made from a variety of colored substances! Today, as with khakhras, there are shops in Matunga that carry a mind-boggling array of mukhwaases and their individual ingredients.
Ironically, this bag is the only one that becomes lighter as the trip unfolds.

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