My mother and I started Gujarati Rasoi on a market stall in Hackney, east London, in 2005. By 2012 we had a second stall in Borough Market. When Covid-19 happened we moved online. What is constant during this is our food. The recipes have been with my family across generations and continents, and remain unchanged. They are a culinary sutra, a link to our past.
Urvesh Parvais and his mother Lalita. Photograph: Pål Hansen/The Observer
My family is from a very rural region of Gujarat in India, a tiny village a two-hour rickshaw ride from the city of Surat, thus the food, known as Surati, has another tier of regionality to it. The vegan and vegetarian recipes here are a part of that heritage: we make these “everyday” recipes at least once a week.
The spinach flavour is intensified by reduction and cooked with tempered spices and onion, the peanuts adding bite. The cumin complements the okra and the sour and spicy yoghurt soup.
Gujaratis rarely have a meal without something sweet so I’ve included a recipe for lapsi, made with toasted broken wheat, fennel and cardamom.
If the meal is made in its entirety (choosing either the palak or the binda) it will feed four.
Okra (binda) is a very easy recipe, a good start if you are new to making Indian food. Start with selecting the freshest okra – the way to do this is to bend one at the pointed end, if it snaps off, it’s fresh.