Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Unmissable Winter Food of Gujarat- Umbadiyu

As you cruise along the smooth roads of NH 48 towards Valsad, stalls emitting smoke beckon you. Like us, if you have started early from Mumbai towards Ahmedabad, your rumbling belly will make you stop & take a look. Probability is you will sit down at one of these humble stalls & relish this delicacy called Umbadiyu or Ubadiyu with a chilled glass of Chaas (buttermilk) & some mint green chutney on the side. 


What’s so special?

A humble dish made by farm laborers of villages near South Gujarat, Umbadiyu is smokier & made with limited spices & masalas compared to Undhiyu. The vegetables used in Undhiyu & Umbadiyu may look same but the difference lies in the beans (papdi) used & manner of cooking. Wild beans are procured from villages as compared to Surati beans used in Undhiyu. Undhiyu is made on gas, sometimes in pressure cookers to save time or an earthen pot by a patient gastronome but Umbadiyu is always made in an Earthen pot, buried in ground.

How is it made?

An earthen pot is filled with seasonal vegetables- wild beans, brinjal, potatoes, sweet potatoes & purple yam marinated in a simple paste of green garlic & green chili. Some stall owners stuff the potatoes with the paste for added flavour. The vegetables are introduced to the pot in layers & sealed with leaves of an aromatic plant on top.

 



The pot is then buried in ground & covered with hay/sugarcane waste & cow dung cakes that are then set on fire. A small amount of vegetables are placed in a small earthen dish at the mouth of the earthen pot to indicate if the Umbadiyu is ready.

The hot earthen pot is then expertly turned & the Umbadiyu is emptied into a container insulated with foil to keep it hot. Sold by weight, Umbadiyu is relished hot with buttermilk & chutney on the side. 

Are there more versions?

Farmers of Coastal Maharashtra near Alibaug celebrate their harvest season with a dish prepared in a similar manner known as Popti. Made around the harvest season of Val (another type of beans) during which they are most tender, Popti is a non vegetarian delicacy. Popti is also made in an earthen pot with minimal masalas (spices) & ingredients- beans, onions, potatoes, eggs & chicken.

The pot is lined with leaves & a layer of beans is introduced followed by sprinkling of salt. Potatoes & onions stuffed with chili powder are placed followed with chicken pieces marinated in ginger garlic paste & chili powder. Eggs are placed slowly in the earthen pot. Some versions of Popti wrap the marinated chicken pieces in smoked banana leaves before placing them in a pot. Same leaves are used to stuff the pot so as to seal it & placed in a wood fire & cooked for approximately 30 minutes.

The earthy, smokey flavors of Umbadiyu & Popti attract many foodies & gastronomes. Easy on oil & masalas, these earthen dishes are a great way to enjoy natures seasonal bounty. Have you tried any of these dishes? Do tell us in the comments section.

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