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...

Masala Vadai

This month being Purataasi, it’s been raining vadai, pongal and payasam every Saturday. Masala vadai is an all-time favourite and a classic Tamil dish (I have done no research into this, I just feel it in my bones. If it’s not, don’t sue me). Have you seen these masala vadais stacked high at tea stalls? Those vadais are usually much bigger and thicker. The ones we make at home are thinner which means they’re crisper and tastier. I enjoy the vadai-patting and frying routine. It’s a very comforting, typical Tamil-woman exercise (remember the Paati-vadai-Crow story). Masala vadais are much quicker and easier than the medhu vadais. The dal needs to soak just for a couple of hours, so you needn’t kick yourself you didn’t do the soaking the previous night. These masala vadais are much easier to shape too. Just remember not to add water to the vadai mixture at any point during grinding or at any other time. This is a firm vadai mixture. These vadais make great snacks along with a hot cup of coffee or tea. I am sending these masala vadais to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon #33 for the theme Kid’s Delight. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 15 minsMakes: 20 vadais Ingredients Channa dal /Kadalai paruppu – 1-1/2 cups rinsed and soaked in water for 2 hoursOnions – 2 chopped fineGreen chillies – 3 chopped fineGarlic – 5 pods with peelFennel seeds/Sombu/Saunf – 2 tspSalt to tasteOil for deep frying Method 1.      Rinse channa dal in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Soak in water for 2 hours. Then drain the water and retain the dal. Pulse the dal in a mixer grinder to a coarse mixture. Don’t add water. Make sure not to grind it too smooth. It has to be a little uneven and a few dals may still be whole. This is how we want it. Remove onto a bowl. 2.      Add the garlic and fennel seeds to the small jar of the mixer grinder and pulse till it is crushed roughly but is not a smooth paste. Again do not add water. 3.      Throw in the chopped onions, crushed garlic mixture and the chopped green chillies. Season with salt. Mix well with your hands so it is properly incorporated. 4.      Heat oil in a kadai/skillet. Pinch a lime sized ball of the vadai mixture and pat into a round thinnish...
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