Undhiyu is a speciality dish and one of the most popular element of Gujarati cuisine. As the name itself indicates, the dish is usually made with the vegetables that are generally available in South Gujarat coastline during the winter season. It is basically a mixed vegetable casserole that is traditionally cooked in upside down underground in earthen pots fired from above. Hence called Matlu Undhiyu, where ‘Matlu’ means earthen pot and ‘Undhu’ means upside down.
Since the dish is more of seasonal kind, the vegetables are generally the ones available fresh during the winter season in the region namely green beans, yam, purple yam, fresh pigeon peas, unripe bananas, small eggplants, potatoes, sweet potatoes and sometimes even plantain. Muthias (fritters or dumplings made with fresh fenugreek leaves, chickpea flour, wheat flour and spices) are added to the dish. All this is spiced with a flavourful semi dry green spice mix typically consisting of cilantro, ginger, garlic (including garlic with shoots), fresh grated coconut, green chillies, sesame seeds, lemon juice, salt and sugar or jaggery. Traditionally the dish is slow cooked and uses minimum water. The resultant preparation is a semi dry with the spices lightly coating the vegetable pieces and the veggies retaining their form as much as possible. Garnish with chopped cilantro and fresh grated coconut and serve hot with pooris and parathas.
This is a very popular dish of the region and is prepared in every Gujarati family on special occasions during the season with much love and enthusiasm. Every family makes it with their own variations and inclusions and love to eat at least once a year and especially during Makar Sankranti.