Sunday, January 30, 2022

Undhiyu- A Winter Specialty

Seasonal eating is a central theme in Indian regional cooking. And when I think of classic winter dishes, the one on top of the list is that divine vegetable stew/casserole from Gujarat, undhiyu. The real thing has an elaborate preparation, traditionally cooked for hours in pots underground. My version here is easy enough for the modern kitchen, using vegetables and lots of short-cuts cobbled together from the Indian store. 

I've heard people complain that they get bored of their own cooking because, "everything I make tastes the same", and it is such a relatable sentiment. We tend to have patterns for everyday cooking, where every curry, for instance, starts with sautéed onions, and includes tomatoes. This is why when someone else cooks us the simplest meal- dal and rice- it can taste so different and refreshing.

Undhiyu is one of those dishes that has a very distinctive flavor. There's ajwain or carom seeds, which have a unique taste and that I don't tend to use often. There's a complete lack of onions and tomatoes. And there's a particular combination of vegetables and muthia (fenugreek and chickpea dumplings) and ripe banana for a savory dish with a strikingly sweet note. I made this big batch of undhiyu and happily ate it for lunch four days in a row with a roti. 

Undhiyu in the Instant Pot

  • 10 baby eggplants
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 packet frozen papdi (lilva papdi/ Surti papdi/ broad beans)
  • 1/2 packet frozen lilva (beans from the broad beans pod)
  • 1 packet frozen undhiyu mix
  • 1 packet (or less) frozen methi muthia

Make the masala by mixing together:

  • Grated coconut (I used frozen, thawed)
  • Crushed peanuts
  • Minced cilantro
  • Minced green chillies (optional)
  • Undhiyu masala (I used Badshah brand)
  • Ginger-garlic paste
  • Cumin-coriander powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Jaggery to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • A bit of oil
  • A bit of water

1. Remove the stem from the eggplants. Cut slits into each eggplant keeping the stem side intact. Cut the banana (unpeeled) into 4 pieces and cut slits into each piece. Stuff some of the masala into the eggplant and bananas. 

2. In a large bowl, mix the rest of the masala with the frozen undhiyu veg mix, papdi and lilva. 

3. In the Instant Pot, heat some oil on saute mode. Add carom seeds (ajwain), then add the contents of the bowl (step 2) and fry for a minute or so. Turn off the instant pot.

4. Layer with the stuffed eggplants and banana. Add the methi muthia last. Drizzle with up to 1/2 cup water.

5. Pressure cook under high pressure for 5 minutes. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then release remaining pressure. 

6. Add minced cilantro and lemon juice and mix together very gently. Serve with rotis. 

* * *

Some food pics from the last few months- 

My parents visited from India and brought along lots of goodies, including kandi pedha, small treats of milky fudge flavored with cardamom, homemade chaklis- spiky, spiral, spicy, savory fried things :) and nankhatai- shortbread biscuits from a local bakery that have a pretty floral design. 

Treats from India

I made flan for my parents' wedding anniversary. Over the holidays, I made them some of my usual favorites- biscotti and fruit and nut shortbread. 

The best baking project of the season was a buche de Noel or Christmas log. My dad wanted to try making a Swiss roll and I have had this Christmas log (a decorated Swiss roll) on my baking bucket list for the longest time, so we went for it. It was easier than we imagined. A thin chocolate cake is rolled up with some cream cheese filling. Then a portion is cut off one end and placed as the "branch". A whipped ganache frosting is generously slathered on and fork tines are used to create a log effect. It was perfectly seasonal and fun to make together, definitely a baking memory that I will cherish. 

Holiday sweets

I hope 2022 is off to a good start for you! 

P.S: Sangeetha, you commented a few days ago asking for a post on making yogurt. I realized I wrote one over a decade ago and I just updated it- read it here.