Paruppu Vadai/Aamai Vadai

I had to make an appetizer for an Indian potluck yesterday. I’m not very good in the appetizer department, mostly because most Indian appetizers are fried. I could get by the frying, but I wanted to make something quick that involved no breading, no battering and not a lot of chopping. That ruled out pakoras, cutlets, bajjis and bondas, manchurians et al. I decided on making paruppu vadas, mostly because the soaking time was only an hour. And I figured I could complete the dish in about 2 hours, giving me enough time for clean-up before I had to get ready for the potluck.

When you’re in a time-cinch, the food processor is your friend. Believe me, it makes my life so easy. I got the paruppu vadai maavu ready in 15 mins no less, with the processor. I got the frying done in another 20 mins or so. Its amazing.

To make 50 appetizer size vadas:

Ingredients:

500 gms of channa dal (about 3 cups)

10 – 15 red chillies (depending on how spicy you want it to be)

3 tsp of fennel seeds (sombu)

2 inch piece of ginger

2 medium red onions

1 bunch cilantro

salt to taste

1 – 2 cups of canola oil to deep fry

Method:

Wash and soak the channa dal in water for 45 mins – 1 hour. Meanwhile, pulse the fennel seeds, salt, ginger and red chillies in the processor. Peel and quarter the onions and add it to the processor. Process till the onion is coarsely chopped. Now add coarsely chopped cilantro. Process until onion is finely minced. Remove the chopped contents into a bowl.

When dal is soaked, drain the water completely and add it to the processor. Process on high for 2 -3 mins. This will yield a coarse mixture of ground dal, with some unground whole pieces of dal. This is how it should be, and will make the vadai crunchy. Mix the ground dal with the onion mixture. Taste for seasoning.

Heat the oil in a kadai over medium heat. Make equal sized balls of the vadai mixture. Flatten gently with palm and drop into the hot oil. Turn vadais when slightly brown on one side. Remove when golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Enjoy.

Verdict: This was a fool-proof 30 minute appetizer that tasted good even after turning cold. Unlike pakoras that don’t remain crispy after sometime, they retained the crispness. This is going to be my go-to appetizer to make in bulk and in ease. Possible additions to make next time is chopped carrots, cabbage so as to make it more healthy and extra tasty. That could also help with stretching the buck when cooking for large gatherings. I am also thinking about adding a handful of cooked rice or a tbsp of sooji(rava), to make it extra crispy.

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