I spent three days cleaning out my cupboards, shelves, beros, paranai, tops of beros, top of fridge, window sills, between wall and cupboard, behind cupboard, under cupboard, under stairs and inside drawers. Did you know you could store stuff in all these places? Martha Stewart won’t tell you that.
I found I did not fit into 80% of the clothes I had. I had so many different cables and wires I could technically connect my TV to laptop to remote controlled car to DVD player to charger to camera to mixie. I’d still be clutching a handful of un-identified cables that fit into obsolete ports. I had loose change everywhere. None of the pens actually wrote. My fountain pens had all dried up. I had about 2 huge suitcases of books I had no space for. I hadn’t read most of my recent purchases. I wasn’t going to deal with the toys. It was too much.
I had 100 glass milk bottles – the small cute kind for times when I might throw a party for 100 people. I had no business having as many cake pans as I did. I had enough small bowls in melamine, ceramic, earthenware, steel and microwaveable plastic for every conceivable need that I knew not, how to put away. I had my napkins, tablemats, little pieces of cloth, wooden boards, empty photo frames, textured cards – stray stuff that were the props for my blog photos. Friends, relatives and the maid when they see these, turn to look at me searching for reason. I don’t meet their eye.
All I did those few days was to pack bag after bag of stuff that I just couldn’t have any more. I was angry at myself. I was severe with every little purse, dabba and tight jeans I hadn’t fit into in 7 years. I needed about two and a half kitchens to store just my baking stuff. It seemed impossible. When I couldn’t make up my mind, I put them in boxes and stashed them in the paranai. I started with a cabinet full of stuff. I kept going ruthlessly. At the end of it I had emptied most of the cabinet and filled up all of the paranais.
For those who are unfamiliar with “paranai” these are the Indian equivalent of your “attic”, only we have these all over the house to stow away all of the Indian family’s possessions – backup 1 and backup 2 of thali plates, tumblers and dabbas, golu steps and dolls, bags and bags of bags, old photos of old people we have no space for on our walls, at-least one food processor with 17 attachments that we did not use more than once, a juicer, maybe a toaster, multiple tea cup sets that came as gifts and went straight up to the paranai and several boxes of “gifty” gifts that evoke extreme violent urges to thrash the gifter and therefore need to be stowed away from sight. These are the fancy store gifts – the romantic couple statue, the dancing girl figurine, the laughing man statue, ugly clocks that don’t run and the numerous “moral gift-traps” – statues, plaques and figurines of gods and goddesses. The self-righteous gifter of such moral gift-traps is righteous and devout in giving them, however cheap or large or unwieldy they may be but we the gifted, cannot use them, don’t have the heart to re-gift them and be abused for life and cannot get rid of them without feeling like we have sinned and so we store them in our paranais for eternity. This, my friends is the moral gift-trap.
I cleaned out the fridge and part of the kitchen shelves too. I realized I had a pack of chicken mince that I was putting off cooking for a week. Then weekend rolled by and I decided I had to make minced chicken vadai. I wanted to make something easier than a kola urundai but just as tasty as a kola urundai. The result was this Masala chicken vadai or should I say Chicken Masala vadai. I am not sure. But this vadai is finger licking tasty. Serve hot as a snack or as an appetizer. I am sure it’ll be a winner every time.
- Minced chicken – 500 gm
- Channa dal – ½ cup soaked for half an hour
- Onion – 1 small quartered
- Ginger – 1 inch piece
- Garlic – 3 cloves
- Green chillies – 3-4 (adjust as per taste)
- Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
- Curry leaves – 1 stem
- Coriander leaves – a handful chopped fine
- Salt to taste
- Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- Oil for deep frying
- 1. Add 1 tbsp oil to a pan. When hot, add the chicken mince and fry on medium heat till the liquid evaporates and the mince is cooked through. Use a sharp spatula to break up the mince. The chicken mince will turn white when cooked through. Remove the fried chicken mince to a plate. Let cool.
- 2. Grind together ginger, garlic, green chillies and fennel seeds to a paste. To the same mixer, now add in the soaked channa dal and salt and grind to a coarse paste adding very little or no water. If the mixer has room, add in the cooked chicken mince and grind in short bursts. If the mixer jar has no room, remove part of the dal mixture and add part of the cooked chicken mince and grind to a thick coarse paste. Again remove some of the ground mixture and add the remaining cooked chicken mince and grind. The idea is to do most of the mixing in the mixie so that you have a nice well combined dal and chicken mixture.
- 3. Remove the mixture to a bowl. Add red chilli powder, curry leaves and chopped coriander leaves and mix well. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- 4. Oil your palms and make small lemon sized balls of the mixture and flatten gently to make vadais. Place in an box and chill for 1 hour or more.
- 5. Deep fry just before serving. Heat oil in a deep wok/kadai/pan. When the oil is hot, slide in a vadai gently. Slide in as many vadais as the wok can hold without crowding. Fry on medium heat till the vadais are golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Serve hot.
- Make sure to not add water while grinding your vadai mixture. Add in teaspoons if necessary. The vadai mixture needs to be a thick cookie dough consistency for you to shape them into vadais and deep fry them.