Oondhiyo or Undhiyu
My relationship with ‘undhiyo’ is odd. It started as an aversion, probably because I tasted the overly sweet version at Tip-Top in Thane. I was once invited for their ‘thali lunch’ by a relative, and it took all my will-power to finish the lunch. I had to down the food with water, and swore off Gujarati dishes. Sometime later we visited my uncle in Baroda. He took us to a Gujarati hotel and surprisingly the food was not just good, but mind-blowing. The food was not strewn with jaggery and the hint of sweetness was just right to balance the tart or savoury side. Oh, I wasn’t a convert just yet, but I was open to trying ‘undhiyo’ from Prashant Corner, and was again disappointed.
I met the perfect undhiyo twice before I learnt to make mine. Once when we ordered a batch from Crawford Market last year at work, and before, when my neighbour, M Aunty sent me some of her undhiyo. M Aunty’s was a tad spicier as it contained many masalas I am not used to. Last year I made undhiyo thrice at home and I got the balance right each time. I however did not dare to share my recipe as I still wasn’t sure whether it was close to the authentic taste. Besides, the pictures were not good. This year, I was brave enough to take my preparation to work. One of my friends is a Gujarati, brought up in Ahmedabad. I knew she would be the right person to tell me whether I made the right thing. She ate a bite, and asked, “Can I take the remaining too?” I could not believe it! Then she asked in surprise, “You made this? It tastes exactly like the one we make at home. Authentic, and very tasty!” To boot that, she actually licked the spoon! I felt redeemed. In Heaven. I needed that boost to post the recipe on the blog.
Yesterday I made it again. This time I was confident. I took photographs. Unfortunately undhiyo, though extremely tasty is not a photographer’s dream. The sauce is coarse, the vegetables are a-plenty, there are too many textural elements in the dish to show it all together in a plate, beautifully. I did my best. The recipe is not mine. I searched and found a recipe by Hemant Trivedi that seemed right to me. Please visit his site for some authentic, tasty, Indian recipes. I tried the recipe exactly as given while starting but went on to make slight changes towards the end till I got what I had tasted.
Now, I am a convert I have gone from hate to love. Undhiyo is part of our Winter routine. Naturally, it was time to find more about the dish and its origins. It turns out that not all Gujarati undhiyo recipes call for jaggery or sugar. There are basically two regions where ‘undhiyo’ is prepared. Both regions basically follow the same recipe but they have their distinct touch too. Surti undhiyo has a generous amount of jaggery in many dishes. I stuck to Kathiawari as it does not recommend the addition of jaggery.
Undhiyo is a Seasonal dish. It is made between December and February when fresh greens are available in plenty and many crops are harvested. The recipe celebrates the abundance of fresh legumes and root vegetables by bring them all together in a rich, coarse sauce made of more greens – coriander and coconut. The fresh legumes make all the difference. It is alright if you can’t find all the legumes I used. Fresh pigeon peas and chickpeas are not available everywhere. Do not substitute with the dried ones for the fresh ingredients. Use broad beans or fresh fava beans instead, or any fresh legume found in your region.
One other ingredient I added that is not usually found in most recipes is ‘harbhara’ – fresh green chickpeas. In Thane, there is only one vegetable vendor who sells the variety of vegetables needed to make undhiyo. This time I found that he also had freshly harvested chickpeas. It was his suggestion that I add it to undhiyo. Since he is a kind old man who knows a lot I could not refuse his advice and bought 50gms of harbhara as well. The addition did not take away anything. Maybe it added to the bounty of greens. The dish is not difficult but involves a lot of preparation time.
Fresh chickpeas (harbhara) and Fresh fava beans (Valor papdi)
Pod the legumes the night before. This takes a long time. You have to pod fresh pigeon peas (lilva tuvar), broad beans (surti papdi), fava beans/hyacinth beans (valor papdi) and fresh chickpeas (harbhara). Also remember that even though 100g of each bean may seem too much, after podding, all that remains is about 50g! So it is not actually as much as it seems.
Clean the fenugreek leaves and prepare the dumplings a day or two before you prepare the dish. The dumplings are called muthias, basically because the rustic procedure involves holding the dough in your palm and pressing by closing your fist (mutthi) around it. These days, we make oval shapes instead. You may want to substitute half the gramflour with wheat flour. I prefer to use only gramflour as my daughter is allergic to wheat. You can also steam the dumplings instead of deep frying.
I found that undhiyo tastes best when made in generous quantities. It helps the vegetables take in flavours. I have used very less oil as compared to the traditional recipe. Usually it is recommended to deep fry the root vegetables till half done. I instead baked mine. I did deep-fry the muthias though.
I used ginger along with ‘ambe halad’ or mango-ginger. You can only ginger if you cannot find ‘ambe halad’. I made a bowlful of generous paste using the two gingers, fresh green garlic and green chillies. I used only a bit in this recipe.
I boil water separately and use this if needed as the vegetables used here are already half-done, and I do not want to bring down the temperature of the preparation half-way through. This is highly recommended though not mentioned in any recipe.
Recipe: Kathiawari Undhiyo
Recipe adapted from Hemant Trivedi
Yield: Serves 6
[Gluten free, allergen free, side dish, served traditionally with any flatbread]
To prepare the night before:
Fresh pigeon peas (Lilva tuvar) – 100g (string the beans and pod)
Fresh chickpeas (Harbhara) – 50g (Pod the chickpeas)
Broad beans (Surti papdi) – 100g (String and split the sides of the beans almost till the end but do not separate them)
Fava beans (Valor papdi or fresh val) – 100g (String and pod)
The above can be mixed and stored together
All those legumes together along with tender broad beans behind (Surti papdi)
The muthias [Dumplings]:
Fenugreek leaves [Methi leaves], picked from the stems, rinsed, patted dry between towels, and chopped fine – 1.5 cups
Gramflour [Besan], sifted – ¼ cup [keep ¼ extra if needed]
Ginger-garlic-chilly paste – ½ tsp. [Please refer tips]
Red chilly powder – as per taste
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp.
Asafoetida pdr [Hing] – A pinch
Water – about 2tbsps., or more if needed, to bind
Salt to taste
A pinch of cooking soda [optional, not recommended]
Sugar – ½ tsp. [optional, not recommended]
Oil to deep fry
Mix the ingredients for the muthias into a tight dough. Make balls about the size of marbles or a tad larger. Add more water sparingly if needed. Deep fry in hot oil till browned all over. Drain onto kitchen papers before storing in an air tight container.
The day after:
The root vegetables:
Purple yam (Kand) – 150g approx. [Cut into ¾” inch chunks]
Sweet potatoes – 100g approx. [Cut into ¾” chunks]
Baby potatoes [Dum aloo waale aloo] – 200g approx. [Make a cross on the top and cut halfway down. Do not cut through to the bottom]
Purple baby brinjals – 200g approx. [Cut off the crown. Make a cross on the top and cut halfway down]
Raw banana [Kachha kela] – 1 banana [Cut into three pieces with skin. Make a cross on each piece and cut halfway down]
The Spice mix [Green masala]:
Coriander leaves, cleaned and picked – 4 cups, finely chopped
Ginger-chilly-garlic paste – 1 tbsp., or more as per taste [please refer tips]
Coconut, freshly grated – 2.5 cups [do not use dry coconut]
Clove powder [lavang/laung] – ½ tsp.
Cinnamon powder [dalchini] – ½ tsp.
Roasted coriander powder [dhania pdr.] – 1 tsp.
Roasted cumin powder [jeera pdr.] – 1 tsp.
Salt to taste
Amchur [Dry mango pdr.] – If needed – as per taste
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp.
Oil – 4 tablespoons [Yes, this is astonishingly less than the preparation traditionally calls for]
Fennel seeds [ajwain] – 1tsp.
Mix all the ingredients for the spice mix together, except the lemon and amchur. If gratings are fine and leaves are chopped fine, there is no need to grind. If not, grind the ingredients together into a coarse paste. It must have a good crunch and texture. Do not grind into a paste. The dish will not taste the same. Once ground, taste and add lemon juice and amchur according to your taste. I like mine to have a good dose of acidity and 1 tbsp. of lemon juice agrees with me. I keep the dry mango powder as an emergency and use it at the end, if I find the flavours imbalanced. This should yield about 2.5 cups of masala. You can add a few tablespoons of water if needed.
Thaw the prepared muthias and legumes next morning and keep aside till needed.
Stuff the slit vegetables with some of the spice mix. Try packing as much as you can without breaking the vegetables. Remove the extra stuffing stuck around.
Pre-heat oven to 200 deg. C. Do not insert the baking tray while pre-heating the oven.
Heat 1.5 tablespoons of oil in a wok and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the root vegetables and the stuffed vegetables to this. Very gently toss so that the oil coats the vegetable reasonably well.
Line the baking tray with a non-stick parchment paper or foil. Gently arrange the tossed vegetables so that they are separate and not over one another.
Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes or till brown on the sides. I usually remove after ten minutes and toss lightly to ensure that the browning is even on all sides.
If, you do not have an oven you can deep fry the vegetables till half done. Or simply skip the process. It makes a difference – the browning.
Remove the baked vegetables. Separate the non-stuffed vegetables and toss them about in some of the spice mixture.
Heat the remaining 2.5tbsps. oil in a wide wok till hot. Add fennel seeds. Add the legumes and toss well. Usually a pinch of cooking soda is added to retain the green colour. I do not use soda. Add a bit of salt to help cook, and half a cup of hot water. Also add some of the masala. Cover and cook for five minutes on medium heat. Add the thawed muthias [dumplings] and vegetables [stuffed and others]. Add the rest of the green masala on top and another cup of hot water. Cover and cook till all masala is absorbed. At this stage if the undhiyo seems very dry, a little hot water may be added. Check for balance of flavours. If it seems too tangy to you, a marble sized lump of jaggery will tone it. If not tangy enough, ¼ tsp of amchur mixed in will make it perfect.
Mix well before serving, taking care not to break the vegetables.
Undhiyo is generally served with any flatbread. While I think it tastes best with jowar rotis, I often find hotels serving it with pooris.
Sometimes you love a dish so much that you create a tradition for your children. Undhiyo is one such dish. Growing up, I did not know about it. I started with an aversion to it. I ended up loving it so much that in my house Pongal (The Harvest Festival for South Indians) is incomplete without undhiyo. In my house everybody prefers rice and rasam to go with undhiyo!
If you are going to try this, now is the Season. It will last till the first week of February. Hurry, and let me know how it turned out!