People from all over India travel to Gujarat during winter to eat piping hot ponk-wadas from street vendors. “Originally a specialty of Surat, Ponk is vani nu jowar or jowar that is not allowed to grow fully, and as a result, remains soft. It is roasted under smouldering ashes, husked and eaten raw and fresh,” says food blogger Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal. Apart from having ponk in its raw form and making the usual ponk items like ponk patties and ponk vada, you can do a lot more with this mildly sweet lentil-like bean. You can relish it with limbu-mari ni sev, lasan ni sev, saadi sev and sakariya dana. Lasan ni chutney and chaas are other delightful accompaniments.
Moreover, you can add it to salads, pulao, and samosas as well as make a whole variety of yummy items from ponk like ponk bhel, ponk no chino, ponk ni kheer etc.
The king of Gujarati cuisine, Undhiyu (and of course Uttarayan) is a special winter delicacy made from the choicest of fresh produce readily available in winter. Main ingredients include ringan (eggplant), crunchy methi na muthiya, (fried flour and fenugreek dumplings), potatoes, kand (yam), green peas, raw banana and papdi that are tossed together with heat-generating spices. Enjoy it topped up with spicy green garlic chutney alongside puri and shrikhand for Sunday lunch with family. You can easily call this traditional dish nothing but a Gujarati Barbeque, only more healthy and appetising. Won’t you agree?
DID YOU KNOW?
Undhiyu derives its name from the Gujarati word ‘undhu’, meaning inverted; it is a classic Gujarati dish made in an inverted clay pot.
FOR LOW-CAL UNDIYU
“Instead of the regular wheat flour methi na muthiya, try muthiyas made out of bajri and methi,” says Chef Sudev Sharma, The Gateway – Surat. Post kneading the dough, shape them into small round balls and bake them instead of frying them. This will retain the taste and crunchiness of muthias, while making them healthier at the same time. Also, opt for olive oil instead of regular cooking oil to up the health quotient of your favourite Undhiyu.
SPICY SURAN & KAND NI CHIPS
Sweet potatoes are available in abundance during the winters and Gujaratis consume this vegetable in many different ways. Some like to roast it while some like it boiled and spiced. Suran nu shaak is another specialty in some Gujarati households. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals with a high amount of fibre content which is beneficial for the body. What’s more? Suran is high in vitamin C which helps prevent flu viruses and common colds. Purple sweet potato or kand is another flavourful version of suran. Kand Ni Chips and Kand Na Bhajiya (Ratalu Puri) are equally delectable and mouth-watering.
Traditionally a farmer’s food, bajra/jowar rotlo often eaten during winter months in Gujarat as well as rajasthan. These rotis are highly nutritious, and at the same time, very light on the tummy. Hence, back in the days, people made wheat roti only during the day and jowar roti at night . Also, bajra flour is reserved for the winter months as it has a lot of heat. These rotals go very well with melted ghee and jaggery. For a complete meal, you can pair them with ringan no olo, urad dal, red chilli thecha and spring onions. Very simple yet very satisfying!
TIP: Make sure you make the rotlas as soon as the dough is kneaded, as the dough tends to harden quickly, making it difficult to roll. With practice and patience, you can surely master the art of rolling the rotlas uniformly and making them puff up. Consider investing in a clay pan “tavdi” if you’re planning to make them often.
Gujaratis and ghee are inseparable and winter is the right time to strengthen this delicious relationship. Gundar Pak is something that is relished in every Gujarati home during cooler months. Gundar – yellowish translucent pieces of edible gum extracted from the bark of a tree – provides much-needed warmth to the body and helps us fight winter chills, thus strengthening our immunity. It’s made from gundar, ghee, milk, sugar, khus khus (poppy seeds), sooth (ginger powder), coconut powder, ganthoda, and loads of dry fruits. Have a piece with a glass of milk for breakfast or carry it as a snack.
A darker, smoky, healthy cousin of Undhiyu, Umbadiyu is a special dish that’s made by the farm labourers from the Tapi to Vapi belt of South Gujarat. If you’re driving on that stretch anytime soon, you’ll see a smoke billowing from roadside stalls. Yes, that’s umbadiyu cooking in there; so stop and go for a quick mini meal consisting of Umbadiyu, green chutney and chaas. Umbadiyu is made with wild black papdi from village Bhata, along with yam, sweet potato, brinjal, it is marinated with ginger and chilli paste and baked in a clay pot. The pot is sealed with aromatic leaves and buried in a hole in the ground, covered with hay and cow dung cakes and cooked for about 40 minutes. It’s an irresistible Gujarati winter speciality that’s healthy too. What more do you need?
A traditional delicacy of the Kutch region, Adadiya Ladwa has great healing properties that the body requires during the cold winter months. It is prepared using urad dal flour which is well roasted along with ghee and naturally healthy ingredients like dry fruits and spice powders. All the ingredients that go in this recipe are easily available in the market. What’s different about Adadiya Ladwa is that they are sweet and spicy at the same time, and have a certain richness to them. Your winter food menu is incomplete without this warm and comforting speciality.