It’s not often that I write about food, but this story happened because I was craving undhyu in Bangalore.
Dig into undhiyu and other scrumptious Gujarati dishes
Winter means one thing for Gujaratis. It’s time to tuck into undhiyu, a Surati mixed vegetable dish composed of brinjals, purple yam, sweet potatoes, unripe bananas and papdi, flat beans. Traditionally, undhiyu is cooked in an earthen pot that is buried upside down underground and then fired from top. The vegetable is cooked in a sea of oil (effectively quashing all health benefits) and eaten with hot puris. This is nearly impossible to achieve in Bangalore, of course – most households here cook undhiyu on a stove. The season for the dish has almost passed, but this fortnight, caterer Shweta Kantaria will make her last few batches of the winter vegetable before summer creeps up on us.
While there are two types of undhiyu that are usually made, Kantaria’s version is the Kathiawadi one, which is created from spices such as garam masala, coriander-cumin powder and red chillies. She also adds generous amounts of muthiyas (fried dumplings made of besan, methi and spices). When we tried the undhiyu, it transported us to childhoods spent on rooftops, flying kites and taking breaks to eat piping hot undhiyu with puris and pickle. Of course, living in Bangalore means she has had to tweak the recipe a bit, replacing green tuvar (pigeon peas) with avare kai (beans) and purple yam with plain yam. Kantaria, who holds a business degree in finance, and her husband, Ramesh, moved to Bangalore five-anda- half years ago. She took a break from her job in human resources when their son was born. “I used to go to birthday parties with my child and found that most parents would hand over readymade boxes of burgers, pizzas and doughnuts to the kids,” said Kantaria, whose son is now four years old. “I found it odd that you’re inviting someone and then giving packaged food.” Then two years ago, Kantaria, who loved to cook, decided to start her catering service, Foody Goody.
Since then she’s been making regional snacks such as vada pav, dhoklas, chaats and dabeli (sweet- and-spicy potato mixture mixed with peanuts and pomegranate sandwiched between a pav) and international fare such as pizzas, noodles and pastas. The paneer roll – samosa shells stuffed with a mixture of cottage cheese and Italian herbs – is the star of her menu. She also offers a range of desserts including angoor rabdi, gajar ka halwa and cakes and cookies. Apart from birthdays, she prepares food for house parties and business dos. “Last year, I made 2,500 mini pizzas,’ claimed Kantaria, who lives in Brookefields. “This Sankranti, I made 22 kilos of undhiyu in just two days.” But despite the Gujarati items on the menu, the couple said only 10 per cent of their customers are Gujarati.
Kantaria credits her husband for fuelling her passion. “We are all foodies in the family,” said Ramesh, as he packed dabelis for an order. “Even when I am home on weekends, she’s busy in the kitchen. But it’s good because we get something delicious to eat.” Business is thriving, and Kantaria’s putting off the inevitable: moving to a bigger kitchen to take in all the orders. “But I promise homemade food,” she pointed out. “Then it has to be cooked in the same kitchen using the same ingredients that we use, right?”
Undhiyu will be available on Sat Feb 2, Sun Feb 3, Sat Feb 9 and Sun Feb 10. Call Shweta Kantaria on +91 90360 68550, email her on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.foodygoody.in. Prices start from R15; Undhiyu R350 per kilo. Delivery charges extra.
By Bijal Vachharajani on February 01 2013 8.53am