Gujarat’s  signature winter delicacy – Undhiyu.

You know winter has arrived, when the   aroma of Undhiyu fills the air in Gujarati homes.  The onset of winter marks the harvest of legumes and beans and we have luxury of enjoying it in  fresh and green form. That marks the preparation of much waited and acclaimed dish of Gujarat- Undhiyu.

Surati papdi, fresh pigeon peas, Kand (Ratalu or purple yam), sweet potato, potato, Raw Banana, Baby brinjal are slow cooked in groundnut oil with green masala  of green garlic (garlic chive), fresh coriander, ginger, green chili, peanuts, coconut and sesame seeds.  No Undhiyu is complete without methi na muthiya. Chickpea flour, fresh fenugreek leaves and spices are mixed together  and deep fried.  This  makes Undhiyu a blend of protein, carbohydrate, fibres vitamins and complete meal by itself.

For its inimitable flavour, aroma, and ability to be the Hero of a meal without any accompaniment it has got cult status. Also, we must not overlook the efforts taken to source and prepare this outstanding medley of vegetables   and the laborious cooking process involved.

There are different ways of making Undhiyu and each region has its own texture and flavour depending on the availability of ingredients  –Surati Undhiyu ( prepared using green herbs and spices) , Ahmedabadi Undhiyu  (spicy and sweet dunked in oil) and Matla Undhiyu  ( prepared in clay  Pot) and is called Umbadiyu.

Umbadiyu is mainly prepared by farmer laborers near South Gujarat. Umbadiyu is cooked in an inverted pot with  fire lit around it. It tastes smokier and has  unique taste of limited use of spices. The vegetables are added along with Kalar and Komboi leaves found only in the winter, it  get cooked by the steam released through the moisture.  During December and early January months travelling from Mumbai to Ahmedabad on NH  48 when you approach Valsad, you will see many stalls with smoke around it. To catch the Umbadiyu before it gets over, I remember we use to start early in the morning from Mumbai and keep space in  our tummy to indulge in this once in a year delicacy.

National Undhiyu Day is celebrated on Makar Sankranti day – January 14th every year. Makar Sankranti is celebrated with much fervour in Ahmedabad and other cities of Gujarat. Growing up in Ahmedabad, I have a fond memory of  Uttarayan celebrations – kite festival. Whole Family along with friends gather on the rooftops early in the morning,  when the kites soar in the sky, there will always  be Undhiyu going around  along with Jalebi. The atmosphere is electric, the feeling of togetherness is infectious.

– Parul Bhatt

Cookbook Author


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