Since the beginning of this month our mild Mumbai winter has made its gentle presence felt especially early in the morning which is slightly nippy and late in the evening when a distinct layer of smog fuzzes up my otherwise stunning view of the Queen’s Necklace. Winter time means Undhya time. Undhyia, Undhyo or Undhya or whichever way you call it, brings to drool the diehard is Mumbaikars drool, especially the vegetarian variety. This spicy mixed vegetable has its origins in its homestate of Gujerat and has been imported to Mumbai by the vast Gujerati population particularly the Surtis who have for generations made it their home.
But as is the case with every dish, there is no standard way to make it, each family having its own variation. This morning when I went to the market (not really advisable since Sunday is a lean day and most vegetables are left over from the day before) I was tempted by the heap of vegetables that go into making the traditional Gujerati Undhya : Baskets of Yam, baby potatoes, small brinjal, sweet potato, raw green banana, fresh green garlic,shelled pigeon peas, green field beans, flat beans all seemed to call out to me to buy them and try them. So like Alice who couldn’t resist temptation, I succumbed and brought them home with me.
I have never really been an afficionado of this dish largely because it is heavily spiced and far too oily for me but with Hubby Dear having strict dietary restrictions, and bored with the standard daily fare, I decided to modify this dish to suit him, taking advantage of the fact that no two Undhya are the same and that every family has its own version of the authentic stuff.
So here’s my version of this famous dish.
For the Masala or spice paste :
4 tbspns (or more as per your taste) Kapol’s Surti Undhya Masala
2 tbspns freshly ground coconut
2 tbspns peanut powder
1/2 lemon juice
1 tspn garlic ginger paste
1/2 tspn turmeric
1/2 tspn red chilli powder
1/4 tspn asoefetida (hing)
The Vegetables I used were:
3 small brinjal
1 small sweet potato
1 small yam (kand)
a handful of fenugreek leaves (methi) finely chopped
1/2 cup of green garlic finely chopped
100 g of pigeon peas ( tuvar dana)
100 g of field beans ( papdi/vaal)
100 g of flat field beans (papdi)
For the tempering :
2 tbspns of Canola Oil
What I did:
1) I trimmed off the moustaches (roots) of the green garlic and washed it and chopped it really fine.
2) I peeled the yam and sweet potato and cut them into bite sized pieces.
3) I chopped the fenugreek leaves finely.
4) I washed the beans and strung the flat field beans.
5) I trimmed off the stem of the brinjal and slit them crosswise and stuffed them with some of the masala paste.
6) In a flat pressure pan, I heated the oil and then added the beans, yam and sweet potato. I sauted them for a bit and then added a cup of water. I covered the pan with a stainless steel dish ( thali) and allowed it to come to a boil.
7) I then added the fenugreek leaves, the brinjal and green garlic leaves and the remaining masala paste. I gave it a good stir and added half a cup of water and salt to taste.
8) I covered the pan with the pressure pan lid, put on the pressure and allowed the vegetable to cook for 4 whistles.
9) I allowed the pressure to fall on its own before serving the Undhya.
Traditionally Undhya is made in the winter and according to some of my friends was traditionally cooked by placing the pot in the earth and allowed to cook slowly during the whole day…..I don’t know how far this is true but I do know that this vegetable is a must in the cold winter months in Gujerat and is an absolute MUST. Each Gujerati family has its own special Undhya, which they would gladly invite you to share rather than part with their secret recipe!
So if you don’t have a Gujerati friend and you want to go easy on the calories, try this one for an almost genuine Undhya experience
Disclaimer : I am aware that this is not the original recipe and apologize to the purists who know their Undhya. It is quite different from the traditional one but as I stated earlier, it is adapted especially for people with diabetes and hypertension. To make the real stuff you will add Muthiya (which I substituted with plain methi leaves), potato and raw banana (which I omitted),bits of cucumber and lots of oil (which I substituted with Canola oil)