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.


  1. Home made goodies are always the best. What did mum make for you? They always do. Would you share the chakli recipe and the fruit and nut shortbread. Thanks.

    1. My mother makes Indo-Chinese dishes that we all love! The chakli recipe I don't have- have never made it myself- but look up "bhajani chakli" for similar recipes. The multigrain flour and sesame seeds (and chili powder) make this a flavorful snack.

      The fruit and nut shortbread is adapted from this recipe (I skipped the pistachio crust):

  2. Thank you for referring me to the yogurt post. I need to get a candy thermometer - my mother's method dipping the pinkie may not be working out :)
    Undhiyu sounds so good. I made 'avaial' at the beginning of January, very similar to the undhiyu in using seasonal vegetables.
    Have a great time with your parents.

    1. Hi Sangeetha- I bought my candy thermometer for around 10 dollars over 15 years ago, and have used it countless time for making candy and yogurt!

      Yes, every Indian regional cuisine has a mixed subzi with seasonal veggies, and they are all so good. I'll have to make aviyal soon- I love it, my Tamilian spouse surprisingly does not. Marathi cuisine also has a mixed veg called "rishi panchami chi bhaji".

    2. Nice to see a post after so long Nupur !! My kerala tamil husband is a lover of all things with multiple veggies..We've been planning to recreate undhiyu. Someone mentioned aviyal.. Let me know if you want a killer aviyal recipe (courtesy aforementioned husband hehe.) Well it's not really a recipe more like first principles. He's an aviyal snob and waxes on about THE method to make it �� . I do have to admit it's pretty damn good though lol..maybe even the best aviyal ever lol

    3. Janani- I would totally love THE aviyal recipe! Please and thank you :)

    4. Janani srinivasanFebruary 11, 2022 5:57 AM

      So apparently the hoary origins of Aviyal date all the way back to the mahabharatha when it was invented by Lord Krishna and Bheema the pandava to feed an unexpectedly large crowd lol.

      in terms of first principles for aviyal there are a few;

      1. Equal quantities of root veggies and watery veggies ( most people would think white pumpkin but my husband swears by cucumber. Cucumber is key to a great aviyal)
      2. The aviyal veggie cut..its not quite juliene or dice or cube haha but something unique to aviyal and somewhere in between those

      Not as thin as julienne and not as well cubed as cubed lol.

      3. No water while cooking ( yes you heard that right .. no added water ) salt the watery veggies so they release water and its cooked in that
      4. Fresh coconut gratings and fresh raw mango ( raw mango as both pieces and ground into the paste )
      5. No yogurt (�� what you gasp in disbelief??) ...yes that's right the quintessential kerala aviyal is a vegan dish !

      Now go forth and apply these principles to any garden variety aviyal recipe on the internet �� and pray to lord Krishna that it comes out well ����

    5. Janani- thank you for this!! I will try it!

  3. Hi Nupur,
    Your undhiyu, your parents' treats and the holiday sweets look lip smacking scrumptious! How nice you celebrated their anniversary with them.
    Here's a coincidence.. I too made Undhiyu in the past few days AND received a box of homemade goodies from my Mom! :) I also made jalebis from scratch to go with the Undhiyu and puris - because I had had this combination before and it was heaven. You are so right about how we need a change of taste every now and then. Undhiyu hits the spot!
    My mom's goodie box had bhajnichi chakli, besan laadoo, tilache laadoo and shankarpali among other things. Am in New Year Diwali faraal heaven :).
    Happy New Year to all of you!

    1. SD- those are happy coincidences indeed! How amazing that you made jalebis and puris at home- I have made each of them MAYBE once :) Faraal heaven is the best heaven ;) The ones you mentioned are my very faves. Happy new year, it is already going by so fast, isn't it?

  4. Sounds like you have been eating well - I know what you mean about your own cooking feeling same same - I think this has been worse during the pandemic with less sharing of food. I would love to make a buche noel one day because they always look such fun. Glad you had some time with your family and they could bring so much food from home - looks deliciious.


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