From barren swaths of desert to a verdant coast, west India is a tale of opposites. In the state of Gujarat, known as the Jewel of the West, it is the thali—a meal of various dishes composed in a compartmentalized tray—that holds iconic status. Far from the capital of Ahmedabad, resourceful Gujarati villagers in the Raan of Kutch's dry plains bulk up simple meals with dairy, wheat, and corn. Farther south, lush Maharashtra and Goa abound with fresh seafood and produce all year round, and coconut-enriched sauces are adored. Dynamic Mumbai, Maharashtra's capital, is the world's second most populous city; its urban cacophony is reflected in an eclectic assemblage of regional foods from all over India and a bustling culture of street snacks, hawked at ubiquitous chaat stands.
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