For many Gujaratis, winter marks the end of a long, long wait for Undhiyu, a seasonal dish that derives its name from the way it is traditionally cooked – upside down, under the ground. Pinky Chandan-Dixit, the owner of Mumbai’s popular Guajarati, Soam, calls it “the quintessential Gujarati winter dish” in this interview on the food blog, Finely Chopped.
The dish follows a standard recipe – there’s a whole lot of fresh vegetables, including potatoes, raw banana, eggplant, different kinds of yam, and of course, the winter speciality, paapdi (flat green beans), mixed with green masala, predominantly green garlic, and a lot of oil. It seems complicated, but it’s not that difficult to put together. Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal, whom Vikram speaks to on the episode, has a simple recipe that is suited for urban kitchens.
This dish doesn’t have many variants, but the Undhiyu from Surat, a city in south Gujarat, is considered to be in a league of its own. Regardless of whether it actually tastes better, Surat is unquestionably the capital of this winter dish. A while back, Mumbai Mirror did a roundup of the best places to find Undhiyu in the city. You will notice that most of the places on the list get their vegetables delivered fresh from Surat, on the Flying Ranee. Such is the craze for Surti Undhiyu.
Undhiyu, for those who have grown up eating it, is about traditions and fond memories. For those who haven’t, it’s about multiple textures and varied flavours. It’s a dish that hasn’t travelled well, but has that typical rustic charm that will make you eagerly look forward to winter, when the vegetables are in season and the whole family can get down to finishing that big pot (or cooker, nowadays) of Undhiyu.
Listen to the podcast here.