I have mentioned, before, this elegant hotel in the heart of old Ahmedabad, The House of MG. It was built by a prominent, self-made, textile tycoon, Shri Mangaldas Girdhandas in the 1920s. He and his family lived and entertained on this spot for many years. The story goes that the kitchen was open 24 hours a day for friends, family, and visitors to be welcomed over a meal. It is now a World Heritage site hotel. The main dining room is the Agashiye, which means “on the terrace” and that is exactly where it is, on the roof terrace.
Beautiful views of the old city surround the adjoining roof terraces. At night, there are large candles and torches lighting the darkness. And in spite of the chaotic traffic down below and all around, it is remarkably peaceful.
Thali is named for the metal plate on which dinner is served. Small cups are filled with different vegetables and placed on the large round plate. Gujarat is pretty strictly a vegetarian state, though there are some exceptions. You wash your hands both before and after the meal. Your right hand is traditionally your eating hand and the left is used for the water glass. The eating is done by taking a piece of bread and scooping up a piece of the vegetable dishes, then into your mouth it goes. There are also chutneys and dipping yogurts on the table. A spoon is served with the plate for your use as well. The waiters come in a line to the table, each carrying one of the items on the menu for that night. They rotate around the table. Some dishes are served in the cups, others go directly on the plate. They will come and refill any or all of the items. The wait staff is all from neighboring villages and live in a hostel next door. There are three courses. The first is the bread items and four different vegetable dishes. Next is the protein course with rice and lentils. The thali is then cleared after you have had your fill, and a bowl of warm water with lemon is served to clean your hands. Lastly, homemade ice cream is served along with the paan (beetle leaf) with a range of after- mints which include fresh coconut and other seeds all served from an old wooden box. You may fill your paan leaf with as much or as little as you like of the traditional digestives, fold it over, and enjoy.
We ate here the first week we were in Ahmedabad and decided to hold the end of the semester dinner there for the students. It was a memorable night all together, before we flew hither here and yon and our magical mystery tour of incredible India was over!