Masala Vada

An Andhra special street food and snack, most often seen being sold at Indian Railway Platforms, these crunchy on outside but soft inside vada’s are my favorite tea time snack along with chutney and some warm chai. They are made out of lentils, herbs, spices and chopped onions. Sometimes I also dunk these vada’s into warm sambar and enjoy the vadas as a mini meal.

Masala Vada

This time I added a few dill leaves that were lying in the refrigerator. You can add fresh chopped cilantro or mint or amaranth leaves or even spring onions (if using spring onions, skip chopped onions in the recipe and add both the chopped greens as well as the whites) instead.

Masala Vada – Lentil Fritters

Ingredients:

Chana dal – 1 cup
Green chillies – 4-6, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tsp, minced
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves (fresh/dried) – 1 sprig, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Onion – 1, small, finely chopped
Dill leaves – 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Canola oil – to deep fry

Method:

1. Soak the chana dal in a bowl with surplus fresh cool water for 2 hours. Later, drain and reserve about a fistful of the soaked chana dal aside in a bowl. Add the rest of it into a food processor. Process until coarse, do not puree the mixture, and do not add any water while grinding. Remove the coarse chana dal into a mixing bowl. Add the reserved soaked chana dal and add the rest of the ingredients except oil. Mix well, and shape into patties.
2. Heat oil to deep fry in a kadai or a deep saucepan. Once the oil is hot, fry the patties one by one on both sides until golden. Remove into a wire mesh strainer or a paper towel lined platter for excess oil to drain away and serve warm along with coconut chutney or coriander and mint chutney or sambar.

Luv,
Mona

Kariyapaak

Fresh fragrant bright green colored leaflets of the Curryleaf tree, belonging to the citrus family, are extensively used in Indian cuisine in curries and chutneys preparations as the seasoning and flavoring. Curry leaves are called as Kariyapaak in Urdu language and Karipatta in Hindi. These edible leaves have a fresh, spicy and tangerine-like aroma and taste due to the abundant essential oils present in it.

A sprig of the Curryleaf plant

Having a fresh constant supply of curryleaf whenever you need a few leaves, is best for its flavor and appearance to do justice to your food. Both freezing or drying the fresh leaves for longer life compromises on its appearance and flavor, but nonetheless practiced to store the leaves for later use.

Fortunately, Indian stores here in Toronto sell fresh Curryleaf sprigs and I store a few fresh sprigs in a loose plastic packet with a few holes in the refrigerator, and use whenever required. This way they eventually dry out and can be stored as such for a long time. You could even spread some fresh leaves on trays in the sun to dry out and later store in air tight moisture free canisters/containers in the refrigerator. You can also pluck the fresh leaves from the springs and freeze them in small ziplock plactic bags. All these methods can extend the life of the leaves for up to 2 or 3 weeks. However use them up as soon as possible and I only recommend using fresh leaves for the best flavor and aroma.

This plant is quite commonly seen in most houses in India and can be propagated by root division, cuttings and from seeds.

Before you leave, have a look at the gigantic Curryleaf tree at Nupur’s parents house in India.

Luv,
Mona

Maash ke Wade

Crisp Wadas (Wada-singular, and Wade-plural) with hot sambar or soconut chutney are an another favorite of the Hyderabadis and all South Indians. These are available at almost all the food stalls and tiffin restaurants. I remember I had the most delicious of the Wada-Sambar and Dosas at Shadaab restaurant at Charminar in Hyderabad.

Maash ke Wade – Indian Soft and Spicy Donuts

Wadas are quite simple to prepare. I always used to be so amazed at the ease by which my mother used to get a perfect hole in the centre and deep fry these yummy and spicy, crisp outside and soft inside Indian donuts aka wadas. The trick is not to add excess water and wet your hands before you prepare each vada in your palm to drop into the hot oil carefully. Once you will get a hang of it with some practice, it will be easy as pie.

Wadas are a common sight as street food or tiffin in India, usually had at breakfasts or as snacks in the evenings. An another variety of a dish prepared with wadas is the famous Dahi-Wada, an another favored snack of Hyderabadis.

I often prepare these wadas for Iftaar along with Kothmir-Pudina ki Chutney along with other light snack items, or enjoy them as a snack in the evenings during normal days.

Maash ke Wade – Indian Spicy Donuts

Ingredients:

Split Black Gram/Urad dal – 1 cup
Green chillies – 6-8, small
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp (optional)
Dried and crushed Curry leaves – 1 tsp (optional)
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro/Kothmir – 1/4 cup (optional)
Dry desiccated Coconut – 1/4 cup (optional)
Water – 1/4 cup

Vada Batter

Method:
1. Wash and soak the dal for about 4-6 hours in surplus water.
2. Drain and add the dal and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor container or a blender container and process/blend till smooth. Only add a little water to make the batter smooth. Do not make the batter watery, or else they will not be able to hold their shape.
3. In a wok or kadai at medium high heat, add oil for deep frying and let it heat up.
4. Wet your hand, take a portion of the mixture and make a hole in the center with your thumb. Upturn your hand and drop the wada in hot oil.
5. Deep fry about 4-6 wadas depending upon the size of the kadai or wok. They need to be turned for even frying. Once they are golden brown in colour, remove them on a tray lined with paper towel. Continue doing this until all the batter is used.

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy them along with Kothmir-Pudina ki Chutney.

Note: Inspite of deep frying, they do not have oil in them as the air inside the Wadas pushes the oil out while they deep fry, hence they are relatively oil-free.

This goes to ‘Joy from Fasting to Feasting’.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo Bonda

After a good afternoon siesta during the humid and sultry Indian Summer days, a few Aloo Bondas along with a cup of warm tea while going through the days newspaper would be perfect. It is also savored during the rainy days in India. Oh, it brings back many cherished memories..

Aloo Bondas – Potato Croquettes

Aloo Bondas are balls of mashed lightly spiced potatoes dipped in chickpea flour and deep fried till golden brown. They are the most loved snacks in India, sold in most of the ready made food stalls, and also as a street food by the bandiwalas in small carts by the road side.

I often prepare Aloo Bondas for Iftaar in Ramadhan. These are our favorite snacks.

Aloo Bondas – Potato Croquettes

Makes -About 20

Ingredients:

For the Tempering/Baghaar:

  • Canola Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Split Black Gram/Urad Dal – 1 tbsp
  • Black Mustard seeds/Rai – 1 tsp
  • Dried Curry leaves – 6, crushed (optional)
  • Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped

For the Potato filling/Aloo:

  • Potatoes – 4, medium sized, boiled, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
  • Finely chopped Cilanto, Mint leaves and Small Green chillies/Hara Masala – 1/2 cup, loosely packed
  • Roasted Cashewnuts – 1/4 cup (optional)
  • Frozen peas (thawed) – 1/2 cup (optional)

For the Chickpea flour batter/Besan:

  • Chickepea flour/Besan – 1 cup
  • Water – 150 ml
  • Canola Oil – to deep fry

Method:

Prepare Popato Filling/Aloo:

  • Pour oil into a small frying pan at medium heat, and add the black mustard seeds, split dal and chopped ginger. Cover with a splatter screen. Saute for 30 seconds or until the seeds stop popping. Add the dried crushed curry leaves. Remove from heat. This is the ‘Baghaar’.
  • Add red chilli powder, salt, turmeric and the prepared baghaar to the chopped potatoes. Also add the cashewnuts and peas, if using, and mix well. Take a little bit of the potato mixture at a time in your hands and shape them into walnut sized balls pressing them between your palms. Keep doing this until the whole potato mixture is completed. Keep them aside.

Prepare the Batter/Besan:

  • In a bowl, add the chickpea flour, water, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric to it and whisk it till there are no lumps and it is a smooth, pancake or buttermilk like batter of pouring consistency.

Deep frying the Croquettes/Bondas:

  • In a kadai or a wok at medium heat, pour oil and let the oil heat up. After a little while, drop about 1/4 tsp of the chickpea flour batter into the hot oil. If it floats on surface the oil is ready for deep frying.
  • One at a time dip the potato balls into the chickpea flour batter. With the help of a tablespoon, bath them well so they are covered all over with the batter. (Note: The potato balls should be completely covered with the batter or else they will disintegrate during deep frying)
  • Carefully drop them, one at a time, into the hot oil. Deep fry about 4-6 balls depending upon the size of the Kadai or wok. They need to be turned for even frying. Once they are golden brown in colour, remove them on a tray lined with paper towel. Continue doing this until all the potato balls are done. Discard excess chickpea flour batter. Serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Enjoy them along with Tomato ketchup, Kothmir-Pudina ki Chutney or any of your favorite Chutney as a dipping sauce along with a cup of warm tea.

This goes to ‘Joy from feasting to Fasting’. Takecare everyone and enjoy your weekend!

Luv,
Mona

Upma

Upma is an another Indian dish which can be had as a snack or can even be had as a filling breakfast.  

Tip: Indian cuisine is versatile. Simple techniques and and a marriage of various kinds of spices and flavors makes the Indian cuisine flexible and sapid. Indian women know very well to use the left overs and whip up delicious meals using them. One such dish where I usually use the leftover curries is Upma. If the left over curry is a dry dish, I often mix it in the preperation of the Upma which makes it even more delicious and healthier. And if the left over curry is thin (soupy) in consistency, then I use it to serve along with Upma.  

Upma – Semolina cake, served along with leftover Colocasia/Arvi in a tangy sauce

Upma is comfort food for me. It is a filling healthy breakfast to start a new day, quite easy to prepare and gets prepared swiftly. Upma Rawa or Semolina or Sooji is available at many Indian stores very easily.

Serves – 4

Upma – Semolina cake

Ingredients:

  • Semolina/Sooji/Upma Rawa – 1 1/2 cups
  • Canola oil – 3 tbsp
  • Black Mustard seeds – 2 tsp
  • Whole dried red chilli – 1 
  • Small Green chillies – 4, finely chopped
  • Fresh grated ginger – 1 tbsp
  • Fresh or dried Curry leaves – 10
  • Urad Dal – 1 tsp
  • Moong Dal – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  • Yellow Onion – 2, large, finely chopped
  • Salt – 2 tsp or to taste
  • Water/Chicken or Lamb Stock – 3 1/2 cups
  • Lemon juice – 3 tbsp
  • Cilantro – 1/2 cup, finely chopped
  • Fried Cashewnuts – 1/2 cup, chopped

Method:

  • In a non-stick saucepan at medium heat, pour oil and as soon as it gets warm, throw in the mustard seeds. Cover the saucepan with a splatter screen and as soon as the seeds begin to pop, add in the green and red chillies, dals, ginger, turmeric and curry leaves. Saute them for 3 minutes and later add the chopped onion and salt to it. Let the onions sweat out a little. Fry them all for about 5 minutes stirring it continually. Add the Upma Rawa and fry the whole mixture for 5-8 minutes more again stirring frequently (if you have any dry curry left-overs, you can add it too at this stage, read the notes above)
  • Now pour the water/stock and mix throughly to that no lumps form. Reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan. Let it cook for 3 minutes more. 
  • Remove from heat and add lemon juice, cashewnuts and cilantro. Fluff and mix it all using a fork and spoon the mixture into whatever molds you like, press the mixture well. Invert them onto warm serving plates and serve them for a yummy breakfast. 

Suggested Accompaniments: I and my family enjoy it along with Lemon/Lime or Mango pickle prepared Indian style, or with any thin (soupy) leftover Curry/Saalan. I also love to savor it along with Khatti Dal. My Mother used to serve it us when I was a kid along with a handful of shallow fried groundnuts. 

This goes as an entry to the event, Click Yellow for Bri, being held this time as a Cancer Fundraiser by Jai and Bee for Briana Brownlow.

This also goes all the way to Raaga of The Singing Chef for the WBB#23 Express Breakfast Event she is holding this month.

Luv,
Mona