A special thanks to my friend and client Alia Sojwal who first made and posted about her Undhiyu on social media. Not only did I pester her into sending some to me but she was also kind enough to come experiment in my kitchen on how we could evolve her Undhiyu recipe into the Parsi classic, Umbariyu. 


I first came across the word ‘Umbariyu’ when I was sitting in the hospital bed with my mum. She was undergoing chemotherapy for her relapse and we had decided to spend the time translating the index of the Parsi magnum opus, Vividh Vani. I asked mum if she had eaten this dish and she told me she had not but it probably had something to do with the Undhiyu that everyone in Mumbai starts clamouring about the moment the slightest chill is in the air.

Turns out, the Umbariyu is exactly like the Undhiyu but, with meat. Trust a Parsi to do that!


I like researching the reason why a dish is called a certain thing and Undhiyu is called so because its traditionally made in an earthern pot that is place ‘oondho’ or upside down inside the earth and is then cooked using cow dung fuel (the slowest form of a fuel source) over multiple hours. Each layer in the pot has a different kind of root vegetable or winter bean/lentil and the steam that gathers in the pot not only cooks the vegetables slowly but also cooking it in the ground gives it a lovely smoky flavour.

Masala paste for Surat Parsi Umbariyu


Umbariyu_Stuffed Veges

I will be honest and say that I’ve not had that much Undhiyu before to know if this is still the way the dish is cooked. However, two things were pretty clear to me when I managed to translate the complete Umbariyu recipe. The first was that the smoking element was quite important and the second being that if I wanted to make this dish in our kitchens today I had to forget about cooking in the ground (I’m pretty sure #BawaGroom would just bury me in the pit if I tell him I need him to dig me one to trial out a recipe for the blog). I therefore filed the Umbariyu to the back of my head until I saw Alia’s post about her Undhiyu.

Coincidentally, on the same day I ended up seeing a replay of Masterchef Season 10 where Saransh Goila sets a pressure test and shows how he uses smoked butter to add that signature smokiness to his Butter Chicken. Something just went ‘ping’ in my head and I decided I now finally wanted to tackle the Umbariyu. It of course helped that winter is still on which means that all the ingredients are available.


The original plan was to just add some mutton to Alia’s Undhiyu recipe and we would be done. However, I asked for feedback on my favourite Parsi food group, Parsis Exchange Recipes and members told me that a traditional Umbariyu also had kebabs and eggs. And so, we decided to add those too!

The Umbariyu is what I would call a ‘Community Dish’ – a new category of recipes I’ve added on the blog actually. The reason being that you can only properly make it when you make a large portion of it and also because it takes about four people 3 – 4 hours to finish it. Now, if you are a lone cook this may put you off but it shouldn’t because you firstly you can halve this recipe and still get great results and also because this dish freezes incredibly well! When I completed the Umbariyu and posted pics about it on social media it turns out Surat also makes Chicken Umbariyu – sounds horrible to me though. However, since making this I did trying making it with Pork and it was simply magic!


So without further ado, here’s the full recipe for the Umbariyu – a tad bit long but very very worth it.


Umbariyu Traditionally made in Surat in an earthern pot that is buried inside the ground over a slow cow dung flame, this Umbariyu is the meatier cousin of the winter favourite, Undhiyu.

  • Prep Time: 2h
  • Cook Time: 2h
  • Total Time: 4h


For the Undhiyu

  • 250 grams Suran (Elephant Foot Yam)
  • 250 grams Sweet Potato
  • 250 grams Kand (Purple yam)
  • 250 grams Baby Eggplants
  • 250 grams Baby Potatoes
  • 250 grams Surti Papdi (Baby Broad Beans)
  • 250 grams Toor Dal Pods
  • 250 grams Harbhara (Fresh Green Chickpea)
  • 3 Raw Bananas

For the Masala Paste

  • 300 grams Green Garlic Chives
  • 300 grams Coriander
  • 4 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 Coconuts
  • 8 chillies (or more to make it spicier)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Water as needed to create thick paste

For the Muthiya

  • 300 grams Big Leaf Methi (Fenugreek - 1 big bunch)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 fingers of ginger
  • 5 -6 green chillies
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 4 teaspoons white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 150 grams besan (chana flour, approximate measure)
  • 100 milliliters water
  • Oil for deep frying

For the Meat & Eggs

  • 6 boiled eggs
  • 1 kilogram boneless mutton
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli paste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Oil for Sauteeing
  • Water as needed to cook mutton

For the Kebabs

  • 500 grams mutton mince (kheema)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 slices of bread, soaked and crumbled or breadcrumbs
  • 1 small bunch coriander (100 gm)
  • 1 small bunch mint
  • Oil for deep frying

For the Tadka & Smoking

  • 200 gm ghee
  • 4 pieces of coal, for smoking
  • 300 milliliters oil
  • 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 teaspoons ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing) seeds
  • 250 grams butter


Masala Paste

  1. Clean the coriander and remove the hair from the green garlic chives. Chop roughly.
  2. Remove the coconut flesh and slice or grate the coconuts
  3. Taking all the masala paste ingredients, grind together using just enough water to create a thick, bright green paste.

For the Meat & Eggs

  1. Boil the eggs. When cool, peel them and make cuts in them vertically. Stuff with the masala paste.
  2. Marinate your boneless mutton with the salt, ginger garlic paste, lemon juice and chilli paste for 30 minutes.
  3. In a pan, saute the mutton with oil until brown. Add a little bit of water, cover and cook for about 30 minutes until the mutton is about half cooked - the rest of it will cook when we make the Umbariyu.

For the Kebabs

  1. Wash and strain your mutton mince to remove all the water
  2. Add in all the spices, onion, soaked and crumbled bread as well as the eggs. Ensure that your mix is soggy but not so wet that you can't form tiny meatballs. If the mix is too soggy add more breadcrumbs. If it is too dry, add another egg. Be sure to check for salt if you make these additions.
  3. Make into small balls and deep fry in hot oil until brown and crispy. Set aside.

Prepping the Vegetables

  1. Peel and cut the Suran, Sweet Potato and Kand into big 1 inch cubes. Once cut, coat completely with 3 - 4 serving spoons of the masala paste prepared above.
  2. Without peeling the bananas, cut into 1 inch cubes. Coat with the masala paste prepared above.
  3. Peel the Toor Dal Pods, clean the Harbhara and remove the small string from the Surti Papdi
  4. Remove the stalk of the eggplants, making cuts vertically and horizontally and stuff it with the masala paste prepared above.
  5. Make cuts into the baby potato (or alternatively cut in half) and coat them also with a generous serving of the masala paste.
  6. Once you are done stuffing your vegetables, about half your masala paste should be over. Let the vegetables sit like this to absorb the flavour while you get started on the muthiya.

For the Muthiya

  1. Clean the methi and pluck the leaves. Wash and strain or spin in salad spinner to remove all the moisture.
  2. Add salt to the methi leaves, mix and set aside on top of a strainer. This will ensure all the water leaves your methi. Be prepared to see your whole mix reduce - this is normal, don't worry.
  3. Meanwhile, make a dry paste of all the other ingredients (except for the besan, baking soda and water) in the food processor.
  4. Move your methi to another container. Add the spice paste, baking soda and mix well. Add in the besan and the water slowly to create a bhajiya like consistency. The measures for both the besan and water given here are approximates - you may need to add or reduce depending on taste and the quantity/bitterness of the methi.
  5. Make one bhajiya and fry on low heat until golden brown. Check the taste. If it is too bitter, add more besan, sugar, salt and water to repair.
  6. Fry all the muthiya in the hot oil until golden brown. Set aside.


    For the Umbariyu

    1. Before we get started, you first need to make the smoked ghee. To do this, heat up 2 pieces of the coal until red hot. Add these coal pieces into the bowl which has your ghee. Cover and seal the lid with a heavy object. Allow the ghee to smoke for about 5-7 minutes.
    2. Taking a big utensil, ideally aluminium add in all your ghee. Now add in the tadka ingredients namely the hing, cumin and ajwain. Saute until golden.
    3. Add in the par cooked mutton, surti papdi, harbhara, toor dal pods and about 3 - 4 serving spoons of the masala paste. Mix well, cover and allow this to cook for 15 minutes on a slow flame.
    4. When the papdi has only a slight bite to it left, we now add in all the root vegetables namely the potatoes, sweet potatoes, raw bananas and both types of yam. Also add in about 100 ml of oil, 3-4 more spoons of the masala paste as well as some mutton stock.
    5. You want enough moisture in the utensil so that things don't start sticking to the bottom but not too much so that you're creating a gravy. Make sure you're mixing gently so that you don't break the mutton. Cover and allow this all to cook for another 20 minutes on a slow flame.
    6. When the vegetables are tender (knife goes through smoothly), add in the baby brinjal and the mutton kebabs as well as any masala paste you have left. Add in the rest of the oil and some more stock or water. Mix everything gently to ensure nothing is sticking at the bottom.
    7. Cover and allow this all to cook for another 20 minutes on a slow flame. At this point you will be very very hungry - be patient and do not rush!
    8. When the brinjal is cooked, add in the muthiya and the boiled eggs into the pan mixing very gently.
    9. Heat the other two pieces of coal until red hot. Put your butter into a small steel container. When the coal is hot, put it in the butter and quickly put this container into the vessel containing the Umbariyu.
    10. Quickly seal the vessel with foil and the lid, adding weight on top so that the smoke does not escape.
    11. Open the utensil after 10 minutes or when it is time to eat!
    12. Serve hot with roti or puri's (if you have the strength at this point to make them!). Goes great with bread too though I believe if you say this some Gujarati might come and kidnap you.



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