Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vadai Curry (Fried Lentil Dumplings in a Coconut and Fennel Spiced Curry)

Remember the fabulous coconut milk infused rice dish Brinji and the delicious golden crusted Roast Potatoes? Well this is another of MIL's specialities which I was introduced to after I got married - I have adapted it to my taste over the years and it remains a favourite at home though doesn't get made as often as we would like. It's not very time consuming, just that you need to remember to soak the lentils for the vadais beforehand. And these vadais are so tasty, I always make more vadais to eat on their own as a snack - either before lunch or at tea time.

The flavour of the curry as well as the vadais depend on the addition of fennel seeds (saunf). MIL roasts whole spices and grinds them into the spice paste, but that's too strong a flavour for me. I prefer tempering the curry with the whole spices instead and also adding a dash of garam masala powder.

Also, one could steam the vadais (and call them urundais - dumplings- instead of vadais!) and then put them into the curry - but really, since we don 't make this very often I find it worthwhile to have the fried vadais when I do make it. The taste of the crisp lentiil vadais soaked in the curry is absolutely amazing. Not to mention that we get to eat the crunchy vadais on their own for a snack!

I made this for lunch on a Saturday and served it with rice and then we had the leftovers with idlis the next morning. Idlis and vadai curry is a classic combination and hard to beat.

P.S I have made a few additions to the widgets on my blog - a long overdue Search button which many had been asking for. Also, a book list of the books I have been reading - I know there are many avid book readers out there and I know we are always looking out for some good recommendations. Feel free to mail me to check on any book you see in my list, I will be happy to share my impressions of the book. There are also widgets for some of the most popular posts on this blog as well as Subscribe via email button at the bottom. Do let me know if you have any feedback on the blog. Thank you!

Vadai Curry

For the Vadai

Chana Dal (Bengal Gram Dal) - 1 heaped cup, soaked for 1.5 to 2 hours
Fennel seeds (saunf) - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 small, finely chopped
Curry Leaves - 8
Dried red chillies - 3-4
Oil to fry the vadais

For the Curry
Masala paste:
Coconut - 3/4 cup grated
Green chillies -2-3
Fennel Seeds (saunf) - 1 tsp

Cinnamon - 1 stick
Cloves - 4
Onion - 2 small chopped
Tomatoes - 2 chopped
Green chillies - 2 slit
Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Garam Masala powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves chopped - 2 tbsp
salt to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

1. For the vadais, grind the chana dal along with the red chillies, saunf and salt. Grind to a coarse consistency adding minimal water and do not make into a fine paste. It is fine if there are pieces of lentil showing. Add the finely chopped onions and curry leaves into the batter and mix well.
2. Heat a deep wok with oil in it - enough to cover the vadais when they are fried. Shape the vadais into small balls and deep fry in batches on a medium high flame, till golden brown and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper and keep aside.
3. For the curry, grind the ingredients for the spice paste finely.
4. Heat oil in a pan and add the cinnamon and cloves followed by the chopped onions - fry till transparent and then add the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and fry for 2 minutes.
5. Put in the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and fry for 5-8 minutes till tomatoes are pulpy and the spices are fried.
6. Add the freshly ground spice paste, salt and one cup of water, bring to boil and then simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
7. Add the garam masala powder and some water if too thick, adjust salt and then add the fried vadais to the curry - simmer for 3-4 minutes and then turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.
8. Serve with rice or as an accompaniment to idlis or dosais.

If you would like to steam the lentil batter instead of frying them, simply shape into balls, place on an idli steamer and steam (in a pressure cooker without the weight or in a large vessel) for 15 minutes till they are cooked and look a little shiny on the outside. Add to the curry as mentioned in the recipe.

You could also use a  mixture of tur dal and chana dal in the lentil batter or only tur dal (pigeon pea lentils)


Raaga said...

I have yet to post this... sitting in my drafts.

Had made appam with vadakkari... but the vadais in my case were steamed in idli moulds :)

I should make it again. Thanks for reminding me Miri!

Priya said...

Slurp,fingerlicking vadai curry,i can have it with anything..

Arch said...

Thanks for the search button !! S talks a lot about this vada curry, never tried it, sounds pretty good, must make it, he will be thrilled for sure :)

indosungod said...

It is one of those purely Madras delicacies. Makes me hungry all over again. How about the paniyaram pan to make the vadai? But I agree deep frying once in a while is a must as a treat.

Anu said...

goes well with appam or idli. good one

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

wow, I have this curry from another blog bookmarked for a while I so want to try it out soon.

Vanamala Hebbar said...

Nice Nice...

Vaishali said...

Miri, dumplings in a coconut curry? I think I just died and went to food heaven. I am absolutely making this. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

Bong Mom said...

Oooh this sure looks lovely. Coconut and fennel spiced are like magic words.