I first heard about Undhiyu from my Gujarati neighbour Sandhya in Bangalore. “What?! You haven’t ever had Undhiyu? Wait, I’ll make it for you this winter,” she told me. Sadly, I moved out of Bangalore before that winter and the Undhiyu remained elusive. That was more than five years ago. But last fortnight, I had a romantic interlude of sorts with this celebrated winter dish. So what if I was dining standing up at a silver-service sit-down restaurant in Ahmedabad with my 11-month-old on my hips trying to ruin my date with the Gujarati dish?
For those of you who did not read yesterday’s post, I was in Ahmedabad earlier this month along with a bunch of dedicated food bloggers to celebrate the 25th edition of the Blogging Marathon started by Valli. While Day 1 was all about competing for the BM Chef title, foor photography session, street shopping by the night and hogging all day long, Day 2 was jam packed with activity of all sorts ideal for a food blogger.
For most of us, the day started off early with the bloggers getting up early to catch the sunrise on the river-front. Since my little one had had a rough night, I decided to opt out. I missed some awesome photo ops along the lovely riverside. I also missed (and I really regret this one!) buying fresh fennel from a roadside vendor. The others were sweet enough to save some for me though!
The day really took off with a session on chocolate — the art of melting and tempering it along with a demo on making some gourmet chocolate trufles, strawberry chocolate tarts and chocolate-hazelnut bon-bons. The whole session was a treat to the eyes and the tummy alike. It was fun to see everyone ‘volunteering’ to test the doneness of the chocolate, the hazelnut ganache and everything else in the process!
The little ones had a good time too helping us polish off all the stuff when the session was over. We also had a gala Gujarati breakfast afterwards.
The fun part was that we were all dressed to colour themes decided beforehand. It was an all-white day which was perfect for the group photo. We all galdly wore the special BM-imprinted aprons that Vaishali had ordered for us all. In fact we sashayed down the entire city the whole day in that fashion with the aprons attraction everybody’s attention. One lady on the road even asked if we were all part of some TV contest and were being shot!!!
After all the chocolate eating, errr learning, we headed to the next destination — the Cream N Crunch bakery for an hour-long session in its kitchen watching the staff decorate the wonderful cakes and pastries. We also tried our hands on making some chocolate fans, chocolate cigars, whipped cream rosettes and what not!
I must mention here what a beatifully done bakery it was the bread display rack was simply wonderful and so was the wall-to-wall Calvin & Hobbes wallpaper. At the end of the session, we helped ourselves shamelessly to some yummy chocolate and pineapple pastries. A lot of us also ordered some interesting breads to take back home.
It was time for lunch. Vaishali took us to a superb fine dining Gujarati place complete with silver service. And this was something I was truly waiting for — my date, albeit amidst so many others, with the hunky Undhiyu! And this is where Baby Choo decide to get even with me for feeding him bland stuff all along! He threw the best and newest tantrums he’d practiced on the flight the day before. But I wasn’t planning to let go of the Undhiyu either! With Choo on on hip, I managed to eat multiple servings of the dish, giving a royal ignore to most other items on the menu. It was truly awesome.
Most people follow up a big lunch with some quiet time and rest. But food bloggers, first time travellers to Ahmedabad at that, are a different story. We packed off to yet another shopping district for buying gifts for those back at home. We hardly had enough time to dress up for the evening. Vaishali had asked us to dress up in traditional attire, replete with jewellery and other accessories. While most of us chose to wear sarees, a couple of them preffered heavy salwar suits.
We were stumped when Vaishali announced we were going to a unique barbeque joint. “Why dress up like this for a barbeque evening,” we all wondered and discussed amongst ourselves. It was only after we entered the premises and looked at the all to familiar driveway and Ganesha at the entrance that we realised she had brought us all to her place! And what a beautiful and thoughtfully done up home it was!
She took us all around the house, many of us went beserk clicking pictures! I loved the way each and every room had been personalised to reflect the mood of the occupants and the purpose of the room. I also fell in love with her large kitchen with its spacious storage area, a wonderfully planned spice rack and a cupboard that was full of little props, knick-knacks and food items from her recent trip abroad. In fact she was sweet enough to have shared with all of us one of the two packets of the oh-so-precious egg replacer that she hd bought during the trip.
Dinner that night was a gala affair. The welcome drink planned by her tasted wonderful. A big fire blazed away keeping us all warm as we sat in her lawn that chilly night talking about the Marathon and how we could make it bigger and better. There was a steady supply of delicious kebabs to fuel our chatter. Dinner consisted of rotis, dal makhni, vegetable biryani, and pomogranate raita. The desserts were fit for a royal party with all items, except the ice-creams, being prepared by Vaishali herself. There were orange and musambi (sweet lime) ice-creams (really! have you even heard of them before!!), a wonderful Casatta (it is such a time-consuming dessert to ready), downright delicious Carrot Terrine with Gulab Jamun and… Chocolate Paan, which was totally yummmmmyyyy!
Once everyone was well-fed (make that overfed!), Vaishali arranged for one of her maids to give us a demo of an authentic Gujarati jowari rotla. Made on a simple tawa propped up on two bricks under which burned a few twigs of wood, the rotla was huge: about 8-10 inches across and took up more than 250 gm of jowar flour!
After an amazing time and some wonderful memories to take back, we got back to the hotel to retire for the night. Everyone was already feeling sad at the prospect of leaving the next day.
The Undhiyu definitely had left its mark on my mind. Once back in Chennai, I prepared the Undhiyu with the fresh toor dana (fresh green pigeon peas) and green garlic that we bought there. I referred to a lot of blogs but finally stuck to the Tarla Dalal version
One major thing missing in my version though was the methi muthia (fritters with fenugreek leaves). I’m sure purists will argue that Undhiyu isn’t undhiyu if not for the muthias. But the realities of the everyday kitchen are an altogether different story. I did not have methi at home that day and did not want to put this dish off any longer.
But I can assure you that my undhiyu tasted quite good and got positive reviews from hubby’s colleagues at work and also a thumbs up from my sis-in-law and her family who have lived amongst Gujrati friends in Mumbai for over a decade. So there! It definitely is a dish I’m going to try again when I lay my hands on some fresh toor and green garlic. You can add fresh cholia (fresh green chana) too if available.