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Food is an important part of our life. While we’re growing up, food is given as a reward, “if you get good marks, We shall take you to Macdonald’s”, as a treat, “Wow you have got a promotion, Let’s celebrate by going to …” Food is also associated with celebrations, In North Holi is associated with Gujiya, Diwali has it’s own set of savories. Food during  celebrations represents rituals, joy, happiness, comfort.

And responsibility of cooking food is with the women in the house. In-fact kitchen is the undisputed kingdom of a women usually mother or wife, even in the chef’s house!  Sanjeev Kapoor(of Khana Khazana fame), said he is often asked-who cooks in your house? He eats the food cooked by his wife!  After a girl gets married, she also has to learn the cooking style of inlaws. Wife tries out new dishes, new cuisines for her husband as she is told, “Way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” but end up listening Meri maa ke haath mein jadoo hai..uske jaisa khana koi aur banna hi nahin sakta(There is magic in my mothers hand no one can cook food like her)

Food

Food for every mood

 

Married to a Gujarati

I had what people call a love-cum-arranged marriage( I call it occupational hazard met in office) , We (me and my parents) had not known any Gujarati (unless you count Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhi Patel) and the only Gujarati dish I had tasted was Dhokla and Thepla. So after the initial furor after the marriage settled down, my father in law gave me a list of Gujarati items that my husband liked. Okay though I had stayed in hostel, I knew cooking, basic cooking,( like dal roti sabzi chawal) also learning silai (stitching), bunaaai (knitting), kadhai (embroidery), cooking otherwise “Saas kya bolegi maa ne kuch nahin sikhya” (what will your mother in law say mother didn’t teach you anything) it was 90’s! but things like bakhadi, mitthi toor daal (who has sweet in dal !) gave me jitters. My reaction was similar to Kareena in 3 Idiots, “Tum Gujarati bade cute hote ho,par tum log ka khana itna khatarnak hyun hota hain, dhokla, thepla,fafda,handva, aisa lagta hain koi missiles hain” (You Gujjus are so cute , but your cuisine sounds deadly. Dhokla, thepla, fafda, handva ..they sound like weapons of mass destruction)

Undhiyu and Marriage

It was winter time and my mother-in-law was making Undhiyu a kind of mixed vegetable Gujrati style.  My husband told me, when Undhiyu makes an appearance on table that means winter has arrived. Just like people have barbecues parties Gujarati’s have Undhiyu parties ordering it by the kilo’s if one can’t cook at home. (We had loads of relatives coming to taste Undhiyu).  My mother in law told me Undhiyu derives its name from “Undhu” which means upside down in Gujarati.  In the rural areas of the coastal region of Surat in Gujarat in Western India, where Undhiyu originates, farmers used to  filled earthen pots with fresh winter produce and bury them underground, lighting a fire on top so the dish cooks under a fire instead of atop it, hence the name!We make an evolved or sophisticated version of that with vegetables cooked in layers, and  flame under the dish(thankfully) . “Similarly, ”she said, “life after marriage ,especially for a woman turns upside down“.

Vegetables are prepped by cleaning, cutting into chunks and stuffing with a paste of ground coconut, green garlic, chillies and green coriander. In the same way woman needs to take care of her family, house, kids and these days career too. Just like Oil is poured into the dish , love needs to be poured into the marriage and family for marriage is between two families. Dish is tempered with spices and the foundation is laid with fresh Surti papdi, (a flat jewel bright green, delicate field bean that is only found in Surat in the winter and is essential to Undhiyu). Foundation of every marriage is the love and respect between husband and wife which is a two-way street. What you give is what you get back.

In Undiyu the Surti papdi  is followed by vegetables in progression of cooking time; Ariya kakdi , potatoes, small brinjals, yam, sweet potatoes, and raw bananas.  Similarly in marriage in-laws, new relatives, new house is followed by children in progression of demanding times with hardly any time for the girl.

The topmost layer is muthiya, spicy fried dumpling of gram flour and fenugreek leaves. Similarly topmost layer in any marriage is the excitement that you can keep alive in the marriage. Never take your spouse for granted. All of which is smothered in more of the aromatic green paste. Marriage is smothered in the tuning of  husband and wife especially in nuclear family. The vegetables slowly simmered in their own juices, untouched until they are cooked to about 80 per cent, at which point fresh coconut is added. When cooked the entire assembly is inverted (making it true to its name in another way) topped with coarsely chopped tender garlic shoots.  The married life works on the partnership between the husband and wife. You would spend your life taking care of kids and when they grow up they will fly off leaving an empty nest and your life is again turned upside down. Don’t give up your identity in being a spouse, a parent etc. 

Ingredients: Serves 8
250g Surti Papdi(small broad beans slit into halves)
200g yam(kand)
200g potato
200g brinjal
2 raw bananas

Ingredints

Ingredients

For Green Masala:
3 cup green coriander chopped fine
1 grated coconut
salt to taste
½ tablespoon asafoetida ( hing )
2 tablespoon oil for tempering

Green masala

vegetable with green masala

Vegetable with green masala

For the Muthia
1 bunch fenugreek  (methi greens), finely chopped
A cup of gramflour (besan)
2 tablespoon coriander(dhania-jeera) powder
1 tablespoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon tumeric (haldi powder)
salt to taste
Oil for frying

To make methi muthia:
Clean and chop methi, add besan, salt, tumeric powder, sodium bicarbonate. Knead into a smooth dough. Divide dough into equal portions(around 20) and make a tiny ball (like a dumpling). Deep fry in hot oil, remove and keep aside.

muthiya

Muthiya

For making Undhiyu:
Add  half of green  masala and mix with the vegetables. Heat up oil in a thick-bottomed handi, mix in asafoetida and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds crackle mix in masala and broad beans. Put the rest of the vegetables in layers one on top of the other.Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder.Stir fry for five minutes on high flame heat.

Arranging vegetables

Layers of vegetables

Pour out one cup of water, cover and simmer (boil slowly at low temperature) on a very low heat up for 10-15 minutes.
Mix in fried muthiyas and again simmer (boil slowly at low temperature) for 15 minutes.
Shake the vegetables occasionally but do not use a spoon to stir.
Serve hot decorated with scraped coconut.

undhiyu

Undhiyu with poori

And however one chooses to eat Undhiyu; with Poories or steamed rice or just by itself, it is ESSENTIAL to get one piece of each vegetable . Like Undhiyu married life can be delicious, sweet, spicy and salty. That Undhiyu was one the most memorable dish I had. Infact we can learn a lot from cooking even about investing..but that in next post!

Note: This entry is for  MasterChef India 2 Contest on  Indiblogger

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