Today was one of those random and not very major Indian festivals that called for very Indian cooking. I thought I would be bursting myself for four-hours at least to make the feast. Surprisingly, it took me an hour and a half, if you count the million times I stood there in the kitchen, sneaking glances at the television, watching random shows ranging from Good Morning, America to reruns of Will and Grace too. What can I tell you? I am a sucker for morning television and wish I could wake up early everyday to catch the shows on a regular basis.
Coming back to food, while this ceremony did not call for the full-fledged South Indian fare, I had to make a complete meal, something I never do on a regular basis. The more elaborate version consists of all the yummies tagged in the picture plus a few more. I have a reason why I took the short-cut to lunch time: I woke up late. I was planning to be up by 5 o’clock (though I did the cleaning, chopping and measuring last night) and cook before the Mister left home at 7 o’clock (this ceremony is performed by men. For the more curious ones, it is called Avani Avittam or Upaakarma. You can click on the link to read more but I warn you. Your life is much easier without knowing the details) But my plan failed miserably and I was not even half into cooking when he left home . So much for following my Girl Scouts motto!
Anyway, by the time I was finished with it, I realized that my cooking pace has improved considerably. A year ago, the same menu would have taken me three grueling hours and I would have gone straight to bed after, forsaking the million food-photography opportunities. Today, I clicked away. This post comes with only one recipe: for the fritters. There is time and lot of space on this blog for others. Enjoy!
Medhu Vadai (Indian Black-Gram Fritters)
One cup black-gram Dal
One small Thai chili chopped
Half tsp salt
Two cups water
Two cups canola or vegetable oil
(This recipe required a little bit of pre-planning but apart from the soaking time, it is easy-peasy)
Soak the black gram Dal for at least two hours. When done, drain the water (but save it for later), put it in the blender along with chopped chili, salt and pulse it. Now add one Tbsp of the reserved water and grind it. Make sure it is coarse, not very water-y but not too thick. Heat the oil in a heavy bottom wok or a dutch oven (or in my case, the saucepan). When the oil is really hot, start shaping the fritters. To check if it is, drop in a small piece of the batter in. If it sizzles and rises to the top, it is.You must be able to shape the batter into a thick disk with a hole in the middle. I wish I had pictures of the process to show you.
Carefully drop the shaped-fritter dough into the oil. You can make up to three Vadais at a time but reduce the heat to medium because the fritters need to cook on the inside and turn crunchy on the outside. This takes at leat five to six minutes. When it gets golden-brown and shiny, transfer onto paper towels to drain the oil. This tastes great just by it self but you can serve yours with spicy coconut Chutney or Sambar.