about all things hot'n'spicy , sweet'n'crazy

Snacks

A sumptuous breakfast spread

Ven Pongal with Vada , Sambar and Coconut Chutney

A pot of boiling water with rice and lentil is a usual sight in every Tamil kitchen on the morning of their harvest festival, Pongal. This offering to God later finds it place on the breakfast table with the numerous other dishes to feed the Family who have gathered to celebrate. It’s very typical in India to have an elaborate break fast on special occasions. My memories of any festival are mostly associated to the specialities served on the day and Pongal is no different.

I wanted to join in the celebration this year by cooking up the traditional breakfast. This is my way to say a big thank you to Tamil Nadu for making me feel at home during my years there ,teaching me some great values in life and for giving me some wonderful friends.

So let’s get cooking .On a regular day you can just whip up a quick breakfast by serving pongal with coconut chutney.

Serves 4-5

For Pongal

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup raw rice
  • ¼ cup Mung Daal

For Seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped Ginger
  • 8 -10 Cashew nuts, halved
  • 1 tsp Oil
  • 2 tsp Ghee
  • 1 sprig of Curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Method

Dry roast the Mung Daal for about 3-4 minutes or until it gives a nutty aroma.Soak the  washed rice along with the roasted daal in 4 cups of water for about half an hour.

Transfer the rice, daal and water to a pressure cooker and cook for about 15 -20 minutes on medium flame.

Heat oil in a pan big enough to hold the rice mixture. Fry cumin seeds, cashew nut and peppercorns until the cashew nuts turn brown. Add chopped ginger and green chilli and fry further for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the cooked rice mixture into the pan, add salt and  mix well.Pour ghee over the rice and mix well again. Remove from the heat.

For Vada

Ingredients

  • 1 cup urad dal soaked for about a minimum of 4 hours
  • 1 tbsp fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Shallots or red Onion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped green chilli
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1-2 Sprig of Curry leaves roughly chopped
  • A pinch of baking soda (optional)
  • Salt o taste
  • Oil to deep fry

Method

Grind urad dal to a smooth paste .Use very little water for grinding.I use the chutney jar that comes with Indian blenders to make my batter and it works just perfect.If your batter becomes watery add about 1-2 tsp of rice flour.

Add rest of the ingredients listed except oil to the Daal paste and mix well. Semolina is my secret ingredient to get that crispy restaurant like vadas.If you dont fancy the idea of biting into whole pepper while relishing your Vada you can omit it from the recipe.

To shape your vada, wet your palm, take a lemon sized ball of batter, place it on your palm, shape into a ball, flatten it out and make that most important hole in the centre.You can even use greased plastic sheets or banana leaf to shape the vadas.

Heat oil in a deep pan ,slide  it carefully in to the oil. Fry on medium heat until it turns golden brown.

If  you find it difficult to get perfect shaped vadas , just  use an ice cream scoop or a regular spoon and drop small scoop of batter into the hot oil. Shape doesn’t matter as long it tastes great.

For Coconut chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 cup grated Coconut
  • 4  Green Chillies
  • 1 tbsp roasted Chana Daal (Dalia)
  • Salt to taste

For Seasoning

  • 1 tsp Urad Daal/Black gram
  • ½ tsp Mustard
  • 1 sprig of Curry leaves
  • 1 tsp oil

Method

Grind Coconut, green chillies and  roasted daal with salt to a smooth paste with about  quarter cup of water.

Heat oil in a pan and fry everything listed in the section “For Seasoning” until the urad daal is nicely browned. Pour over the ground coconut mixture.

To Serve

Serve the Pongal with vada and chutney on the side and a small bowl of Sambar. Recipe of Sambar to follow.

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What’s in a name?

Aloo bonda  alias Masala bonda alias Spiced Potato balls.

Bajjis and Bondas  are not  part of my childhood memories. Don’t mistake it for being health conscious , the true blood carnivore that I am, was into chicken cutlets and meat samosas. I was sent away to a distant land to do my Bachelor Degree and those days spent in a hostel that served only vegetarian food forced me to look out for not so meaty yet tasty vegetarian options for the survival of my snacking habit. Biting into my first Aloo bajji, I must have blamed me for leaving myself devoid of those crunchy golden embodiments of taste for the long 17 years. There I was standing, over joyed at the discovery of a new found favourite. On busy evenings the regular bajji vendor of our hostel would save a few egg bondas and aloo bajjis for me and my friends and this meant we stayed as his loyal customers till the end. Many years later, I still drool over these little packets of comfort but this time there is no “canteen Anna” (that’s what we used to call the guy who owned the snack stall)to sell these straight from  the hot bubbling oil. Hence, I have to satisfy myself with something that came from my kitchen.

Makes about 8 small lemon sized balls

.

Ingredients

For Potato masala

  • 4 small potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ tsp Ginger Garlic paste
  • 2 Green Chillies finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of Curry leaf finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsps of finely chopped Coriander leaf
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • A few Mustard seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil + Oil for deep frying

For Batter

  • ½ cup Gram flour
  • ¼ cup Rice flour
  • A pinch each of Baking powder, Asafoetida, Cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

Method

For the potato masala, heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Add chopped onion, green chillies, ginger garlic paste, curry leaves , coriander leaves and sauté for about 3-4 minutes. Add turmeric powder followed by the mashed  potatoes and sauté  for another 2 minutes. Add salt , mix well and remove from the heat. Make sure the mix is dry to help with the shape of the balls. Prepare small lemon sized balls and keep them aside.

For the batter, mix together all the ingredients listed under the section “For Batter” with enough water to make a thick smooth batter.

Heat oil in a pan for deep frying the bondas, dip each potato ball in the batter ensuring its coated well on all sides and slide carefully into the hot oil. Fry on medium flame until the bonda is golden brown on all sides. Remove and drain on kitchen towels.

Serve them hot with your favourite chutney, dip or the good ol’ tomato ketchup.

I am sending this over to Radhika for the Deep fried Snacks event she is hosting.