I got a small kick out of making these vadas, a couple of days ago, because they are the kind that my Ma would always make i.e the sort with the little hole in the center. That little detail has always been tricky for me to get right but this time I made the batter in my small electric blender, instead of in the blender of my food processor. So I managed to grind the lentils just the right thickness to be able to form the required shape (though I realized I am quite out of practice, as I made these !) .
Why the fuss about the shape, though, when the alternative – vadas that are a smooth round shape – would do just as well and certainly taste exactly the same?And I do in fact make the latter kind whenever I make these vadas in larger quantities, on occasions such as the children’s birthday parties .
Well, just because it is one of those little traditional touches that I somehow feel need to be preserved, even if through infrequent use, rather than forgotten completely …
We had these with sambhar and green coconut chutney. Noor loves them, as does Shri, though Indira would much rather eat them in their dahi vada avtaar.
1 cup of dhuli urad daal (skinless black gram lentils)
1/4 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon of asofetida
1 teaspoon (or a little more) of freshly roasted cumin seeds
salt to taste
8-10 curry leaves, chopped fine
Wash the lentils thoroughly, add the fenugreek seeds and soak for at least 6 hours.
Drain the water completely. Grind the daal – taking about a half or a third of it at a time – in a blender/grinder, using as little water as possible , in to a thick paste. Mix in the salt, curry leaves, asofetida, cumin seeds and ginger and stir these in well with clean hands (this make for really soft vadas, according to experienced cooks like my Ma and Chanchal Aunty).
Fry the vadas now in medium hot oil till they are golden brown in color,forming each in to the required shape by hand. To do this, either a) wet your palms well with a little water (keep a bowl filled with water handy for this as you’ll need to repeat the process after every couple of vadas), take 1 large spoonful of batter in to your left palm, flatten it a little, make a hole in the center and then turn the vada on to your right hand before sliding it in to the oil OR b) lift little portions – about 1 tablespoon – of the batter by hand and roughly forming them in to round shapes drop these in to the oil.
Serve these and eat these hot, when they are wonderfully crunchy on the outside.