Parippu Vadais are Fritters made out of a Lentil Based batter. We usually make them for festivals without onions - and then for a snack, you add onions and some more spice and lo! you have Masala Vadais! They are part of traditional Tamil cuisine and am sure found in other avatars in other Southern states as well.
These vadais are particularly delicious because they have a great crunch to them which is achieved by grinding the lentils to a coarse batter which leaves some of the lentils whole. These turn crispy and nutty when fried and taste great. The key is not to add too much water while grinding the batter and just enough to keep the blender going till you have a coarse batter.
I remember enjoying masala vadais at the non descript stations the train from Mumbai to Chennai, used to halt at. The vendor would wrap up our order in newspaper and thrust the steaming packet into our hands before going on to the next window - heaven on a plate! The last time I had this outside was last December in Chennai at Sangeethas in Mylapore. That was delicious too. But who needs Sangeethas when you can make these at home (and don't have to fret about the perfect hole as in the case of Medu Wadas!) These are far simpler and very delicious.
These vadais are specially for Terra Madre Day which was on December 10. Terra Madre Day is an annual event celebrated on December 10 every year by the Slow Food network around the world. The objective of this day is to underline the importance of eating locally. Activities to celebrate Terra Madre Day take place all over the world: in cities, rural areas, schools and community centers, cinemas or on farms, restaurants or at home. Its important that we preserve our local and regional cuisine - especially in our country which has hidden gems around every turn - in the frantic pace of globalisation and franchising uniformity, lets not forget the quirks of enjoying a wide variety of cuisines which change every 200km or so!
As Rushina of A Perfect Bite says "Spread the word amongst your circle of friends, speak to people you know in the food industry or simply mark the day by serving local foods, cooking up traditional recipes and promoting better food systems to your friends family and loved ones through the days of 9-19 of December.This is a very special celebration. That of food. Your food, my food, global food. You do not need to pay anything, you do not need to leave your house. All you need to do is cook local seasonal, regional, traditional foods because the only way to keep traditional foods alive is by cooking them."
Chana Dal (Bengal Gram lentil) - 1 cup
Tur Dal (Pigeon pea lentil) - 1/2 cup
Urad Dal - 4 tbsp
Dried red chillies - 5-6
Saunf (Fennel Seeds) - 1 tsp
Curry Leaves - handful
Onion - 1 small. chopped (optional)
Salt to taste
Oil - enough to deep fry the vadais
1. Soak lentils together in 4 cups of water for about 2 hours.
2. Drain water and grind along with the red chillies, curry leaves, salt and fennel seeds till you get a coarse thick batter, using as little water as possible. There should be some whole pieces of the lentils sticking out of the batter.
3. Heat oil in a kadai or a heavy bottomed deep pan. Add the chopped onions to the mixture and shape into balls. Flatten the balls a little on your palm and then gently slide them into the hot oil. Fry on a medium high flame till golden brown and crispy.
4. Taste and adjsut the batter for salt if needed and continue making vadais in the same way with the remaining batter. Serve hot.