Undhiyu: A wholesome seasonal indulgence
Made during the months of winter, Undhiyu is one of the most famous Gujarati dishes and is a seasonal delight. To describe it simply, it is a mixed vegetable dish that uses a number of seasonal vegetables seasoned with local herbs and spices. Originating in the coastal areas of Gujarat, it is a local speciality from Surat, hence called the Surati Undhiyu. There are many other versions of this available today but the Surati Undhiyu is a classic.
Many home cooks shy away from making this dish at home as it involves numerous ingredients and takes a long time to prepare. However, Undhiyu is worth every bit of effort that goes into making it. Have you ever wondered what makes this complicated dish so irresistible? Let’s understand the appeal of this dish by exploring its various elements.
Undhiyu glorifies some lesser known vegetables by transforming them into a delicious dish. These vegetables are rarely consumed separately or as the main ingredient in any dish. Most of the vegetables are also seasonal vegetables. This is also the reason why authentic Undhiyu is not available in stores and restaurants throughout the year.
Some standard vegetables in Undhiyu include baby potatoes, small brinjals (baingan), ripe bananas, purple kand (yam), surti val papadi (green flat beans), fresh val dana (butter beans), fresh toor beans, fresh harbara dana (green chickpeas), and peas. While many consider these to be unappetizing, Undhiyu is dish that presents these healthy vegetables in a delicious avatar.
Brinjal provides a good amount of vitamins, fibre and minerals in a surprisingly few calories. This vegetable is high in anthocyanins, a pigment with antioxidant properties, that can help protect against cellular damage. A nutritious root used in Undhiyu is yams. It is also a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Yams are rich in potassium, manganese, copper and vitamin C as well. Papdi, known as green flat beans, are an excellent source of soluble fibre, protein, folate, manganese, copper and many other micronutrients. Butter beans contain healthy carbohydrates, proteins, fibre and vitamins & minerals. While green chickpeas add protein and carbohydrates to this dish.
Another essential element in Undhiyu are muthiya; these are fried fritters made from methi (fresh fenugreek leaves), atta (whole wheat flour) and besan (chickpea flour). Muthiyas, akin to koftas, add an interesting layer of taste and texture to this complex dish. Methi is an extremely nutritious vegetable that has a positive effect on blood lipid levels. While besan is a low GI food that is full of vitamins and minerals. It has a gradual effect on blood sugar and is high in fibre.
To add flavour to the muthiya, spices such as chilli powder, turmeric powder, and ginger-garlic paste are added to these ingredients. This is made into a dough and it is shaped into small spheres and deep fried. Muthiya is also a delicious snack on its own as well. To make sure these muthiyas are crispy, it is important to use good quality besan such as Tata Sampann Besan, made from 100% Chana Dal, and a pinch of baking soda to make the dough.
Green Garlic, Coconut & Coriander Chutney
A lesser known winter staple is green garlic. It is used into multiple ways in Indian cooking. It is a key ingredient in Undhiyu as vegetables such as potatoes, brinjals, etc. are stuffed with a chutney made using green garlic, coconut, coriander and green chilies. While the rest of the ingredients are coated with it before being cooked. This seasonal herb, green garlic leaf, has a slightly more pungent taste in comparison to the bulbs that are used in everyday cooking.
Additionally, it also has many nutritional benefits. Coconut contains protein, small amounts of B Vitamins and many essential minerals. Coconuts are especially high in manganese, which is essential for bone health and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol. They’re also rich in copper and iron, which help form red blood cells, as well as selenium, an important antioxidant that protects your cells.
This chutney is one of the most important elements which adds taste to the Undhiyu.
Undhiyu gets its name from its tradition cooking method. The word “Undhu” stands for upside down in Gujarati. This dish was traditionally cooked in upside down in earthen pots in a fire pit which was dug in the ground. This authentic version would take hours to cook. Urban home cooks prefer cooking it using pressure cookers and big pans. While making Undhiyu, it is important to follow the recipe and sequence of adding vegetables to ensure it is properly cooked. As all vegetables take a different amount of time to cook, following the prescribed method of cooking is extremely important.
Undhiyu is garnished with fresh coriander which adds to the visual appeal of the dish which is also green in color. It is often served with hot puris, making it an indulgent meal. Whichever method or version of Undhiyu you choose to make, ensure that you use freshest and good quality ingredients to get a nutritious and authentic version of the dish.
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