While I love eating Indian food, I really know nothing about making it authentically. Several years ago, a friend of mine bought me Anjum Anand’s New Indian cookbook. I’ve looked at and read every recipe in the cookbook but I’ve unfortunately been a little intimidated to try any of them. The recipes are fairly straightforward and simple but there are many spices that I don’t have, never heard of, or can’t find in a local grocery store, such as carom seeds, asafoetida, licorice root, and curry leaves. Hence, my lame reason for why the cookbook has sat on my shelf for so long.
I invited one of my girlfriends over for the Fourth of July. Not only is she a vegetarian, but she’s also on a low salt, low fat diet. What does a meat-eating, salt-loving, fat-loving Italian like me make her for dinner. So I decided to wait for her to come out to my house to help me decide. We found the recipe below.
Gujarati undhiyo is a slow-cooked rustic one pot dish that’s traditionally cooked in earthen pots. The pots are sealed and placed upside down in a fire pit dug in the ground. Don't worry, if you don't have a fire pit, Anjum Anand's recipe translates very well in a home kitchen. The undhiyo was easy to make, very flavorful, and so delicious. Of course I didn’t have and couldn’t find carom seeds and asafoetida so we unfortuately left them out. I will definitely make this dish again and next time I will be sure to have all the spices that the recipe calls for.
Adapted from Anjum New Indian
For the masala sauce:
- 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 small green chiles, seeds removed, flesh chopped
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, plus extra, for garnish
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon carom seeds
- 3 ounces freshly grated coconut or unsweetened cocount, plus extra, for garnish
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground roasted peanuts
For the curried vegetables:
- 4 small eggplants, trimmed and cut in half lengthways
- Kosher salt, as necessary
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Pinch asafoetida (Hing)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds on the diagonal
- 8 ounces water
- 2/3 cup frozen peas
Step 1: For the masala sauce: Blend the ginger, garlic, green chiles, and lemon juice to a paste in a food processor. Add a splash of water to loosen and bind the mixture.
Step 2: Stir in the cilantro and blend again until the cilantro is well combined, but retains its texture. Add the coriander, cumin, carom, coconut, salt, sugar, and roasted peanuts, and stir well until combined.
Step 3: For the curried vegetables: Place the eggplant pieces on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Sprinkle salt over the eggplant, and place paper towels on top. Place a heavy skillet over the eggplant to press out the excess moisture. Set the pan aside for 30 minutes. Quickly rinse the salt off of the eggplant, and pat dry.
Step 4: Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over a medium heat, and add the asafoetida, and fry for 20 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the mustard seeds, and fry for 30 seconds, or until they start to pop. Be careful of the popping seeds and splatters of oil.
Step 5: Add the potatoes, eggplant, sweet potato, and parsnip pieces, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring regularly, or until the vegetables are golden brown.
Step 6: Stir in the masala sauce, add the water, and bring to a boil, then cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
Step 7: Once the vegetables are just tender, add the frozen peas, cover with a lid and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until warmed through.
Step 8: To serve the dish, sprinkle over the fresh chopped cilantro and freshly grated coconut, to garnish.