Potato Vathal | Urulaikizhangu vathal

This patented potato vathal comes from my Grandmother Radha Bai’s family. If you see anyone using the name “potato vathal”, tell me. They can call it anything but potato vathal. Ok it’s not patented, not yet, but this potato vathal is part of family heirloom that is handed over to each generation along with diabetes, absentmindedness and craziness. I’ve got all of them except diabetes which I am on the path to. My mother miraculously remembers this potato vathal recipe not because she maintains my grandmother’s recipe notes neatly organized in grand old chests but because it was among the easiest things to make. You will not believe that a vathal can be so easy. Vathals are usually intimidating for first timers but this vathal is nothing like other vathals – there’s no grinding, no boiling, stirring, breaking lumps nothing. This is unlike any other vathal you’ve ever made. If you’re starting out, make this potato vathal. These potato vathals are thicker than your regular potato chips and they’re really tasty. They’re splendid to munch on while watching T.V. They make a great side with lemon rice or sambar rice too. My mother manages to pass off boring tomato rice by packing them with these fried potato vathals. She did just that yesterday.  These potato vathals are my all time favourite vathals next only to the onion vathals I made last summer. The onion vathals are magical. You must try them too though they involve a bit more effort than these potato vathals.Vathals can make great favors. They’re spoil proof and easy to pack and they add a nice homemade touch.  We had a small food blogger meet last weekend at my place and I packed my potato vathals for my blogger friends to take home. The first thing to do when you decide to make vathals is to switch on the TV and watch the weather report. Ramanan may not be exact most times but is usually in the ballpark. If he says heavy rainfall tomorrow, there may be a light sprinkling the day after. More than anything else, you need scorching heat to make vathals. For that, Chennai is probably the best place in the world and now is just about perfect although my mother makes it throughout the year. Actually anyone anywhere can make vathals as long as you have a lot of heat. It has been...

Vengaya Vathal – Onion vathal/Vadam

Come Summer and Mambalam Mamis would be out in force on their terraces, laying out these vathal/vadams on Mama’s dhotis. Most of the vathal/vadam preparation happens during peak summer – April and May when the sun is at its scorching best and there are no winds to blow dust on to the drying vathals. It’s one big open-air, preheated oven, un-affected by voltage fluctuations and power cuts. I am late as usual. I made these in early June when Kathiri was already over and the brief summer showers were just around the corner. I am perpetually late – for classes, for aerobics, for my own wedding reception and now for my children’s school. It was no surprise that I was late for the vathal season as well. Vathals turn out best when they’ve had 3-4 days of blistering sun. In Chennai, that’s never a problem, usually. But when I decide to debut in the vathal arena, even nature colludes against me. The day we made these vathals, the weather was dark, cloudy, windy and un-characteristically pleasant. Even better – the next couple of days, Chennai received nice, sometimes quite heavy showers. Chennai was rejoicing and radio stations were playing rain songs while I silently fumed. It’s as if god was saying “Don’t try this, spare the vathals, at-least”. But if anything I am stubborn. Vathals I did make and they turned out really good thanks to my mother who did vathal duty shuttling them in and out (while I worried in office) and Rajee aunty who initiated me into the vathal club. The vathals tasted just like the vathals that the mami friends used to give us every summer. These vengaya vathals – onion vathals are nice and crunchy with lovely bits of fried onions and are a great accompaniment to rice and rasam. These vathals are extremely handy when you feel a meal is just short of a dish – deep fry these in a jiffy and you have a tasty and crunchy side-dish ready in minutes. I am sending this to Srivalli’s summer special Mela. Prep time: 20 mins + 1 hour laying themCooking time: 20 minsMakes: Enough to last 6 months for a family of 4-5 Ingredients Raw rice (Maavu rice) – 1 kiloJavvarisi/Pear Sago/Sabudana – 200 gmGreen chillies – 250 gm (around 15-20)Salt to tasteOnions – 1 kilo chopped fineWater – 4X times the flour Method...
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