Fried Moong dal Toast

I am in ‘plan-B’ mode these days. I think I must make a decorated, layer cake for my dad’s birthday, then switch last minute to a brownie with frosting and finally make just the brownie. I buy loads of green chillies to make Mor Milagai but I can’t find Mor (buttermilk) anywhere. But I didn’t look for it. To think that just a couple of weeks back our fridge harboured not just tons of Mor and yogurt but other assorted wild cultures of I don’t know what (and I threw them out, peasant me. Sour-dough illiterate!). I make pizza dough, pizza sauce and even ready the toppings but don’t make pizza because I can’t find Mozzarella. My to-make vathal and oorkai (pickle) list are growing, summer is full blast on in Madras and I do nothing. I am waiting for yogurt to sour when there is no yogurt at home, for bananas to blacken but they get eaten up. I am there, yet not there. It’s there, but not there. I want to do, but don’t. I know many people who’d call this laziness. Maybe. I can’t wholly deny that, so I’ll accept it. So one morning I wake up to an idli-batter less fridge which means tiffen other than idli/dosai. I’d planned pesarattu or French toast but made Fried Moong dal toast instead. It is not my invention though. I remember a similar recipe in a Nita Mehta book that I am not able to locate now. I soaked moong dal in some hot water for 10 minutes (you can soak in regular water for 20-25 minutes) because I woke up late and I was in a hurry which is my normal state of things. I then ground the dal to a coarse paste, mixed in finely minced green chillies and fresh coriander leaves and slathered them on some bakery bread (these are smaller than your regular loaves and are usually softer) – both sides of each slice and then deep fried them till the edges are dark brown and crisp. I had a mild attack at the amount of oil the bread was taking up and I tried a skinny pan fried version with a couple of slices. I am sorry health freaks but deep fried toast was undoubtedly the winner – crispy edges and slightly chewy, crunchy dal coated inside. It was fantastic. I made this for...

Crispiest Crunchiest Masala Vadai

I tasted these masala vadais for the first time at Kanniamman Kovil, Manapakkam where we’d gone for my daughter’s first “mottai”. The Mottai is a common custom in Tamil culture. Seen Kizhaku Cheemaiyile? Typically at 9 months of age, babies get their heads shaved at a temple. This is a big occasion, a milestone in the baby’s life and is celebrated with gusto – Pongal is made on a traditional cow-dung fired stove to be offered to god, biryani is made in huge deksas and family and relatives gather to feast and gossip. People arrive early in buses and vans along with their goats, deksas and jamakkalams (a thick durry/bedspread). Menfolk chat idly or play cards, children run around excitedly and women go about preparing the pongal and biryani. My daughter’s was a very low key affair, but it was during the month of Aadi and the temple grounds resembled a carnival with merry-go-rounds and several tiny stalls selling everything from glass bangles, plastic toys and mud pots to fresh curd and Masala vadai. Ah.. those Masala vadais! Now masala vadais are quite commonly made at homes, hotels and tea stalls and they’re all tasty and quite nice in their own right. But these vadais have got be the crispiest, crunchiest of them all and they’re absolutely irresistible. Every time we go to the temple, we make a dash to the vadai kadai and commission the paati sitting there to make vadais full-time for our party there while the children get their mottais, are bathed and dressed and we make the pongal. The secret to these vadais is the chana dal rava. For these vadais, you’ll need to break your channa dal (kadalai paruppu) to a rava. You can get this done easily at your nearest flour mill. Store this rava in an air-tight box and whenever you fancy masala vadais, just soak this rava in water, combine with chopped onions and green chillies and deep fry. There – you have (wait, don’t wince – one more “crunchiest” coming up) the crrrunchiest vadai in town. It’s quite ingenious really. This recipe has the advantage of being way simpler and quicker than the traditional masala vadai recipe. Try it, you’ll love it. Thank you paati for the great recipe. Picture taken during my nephew’s mottai. They’re so cheap too. God bless the paati who serves up these delicious vadais everyday. Replicated...
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