I was a very choosy and fussy eater in my childhood, rather till getting married. I remember my Ajja (Grandpa) would say ‘Khanche mulle baisunu assaki tugele bammunu. Tukka poLoche aile tenna, tu khainattille itemache list kornu divka takka’ (Meaning, wonder which corner of this world is your partner sitiing. when he comes to see you, I would hand him over a list of all that you don’t eat.) I would say ‘Ajja, haanv khavche itemache list kelleri sulabha.’ (Grandpa, it would be better if you list all that I eat coz it would be a tad smaller list). I had a few favourite dishes of mine which I would determinedly stick to, unwilling to experiment.
We used to frequent an age old famous restaurant in Udupi called ‘Diana’. I would always order ‘Poori Kurma and Rose Milk’ Now when I look back, I say to myself ‘Wierdo!’. I would not have raw onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves even! Sighhhh… I would pick the minutest piece of tomatoes and coriander leaves from my curries and my banana leaf would end with a neat heap of all the ‘wastage’ at its right top. I used to not have curds. Hence only chat I could opt was masala puri with specific instructions to not garnish with raw onions or tomatoes or coriander leaves. Phewww! Wasn’t it too much??
I would not eat Tomato Saaru which is one of my comfort foods now. I remember one of my aunts who was a great fan of my Amma’s cooking would politely advise me – “Seema, you must try to taste all kinds of food. Your Amma makes the world’s best Tomato Saaru. You are truly missing out on lot of good stuff”. Now I crave for Amma’s food which I don’t have access to…
After marriage, my life dimensionally changed. All those food tantrums were put to an end, not at once but gradually. Nobody forced me to but somehow, absence of Amma and the way she would pamper me by cooking only what I ate. I was the one responsible to cook according to my family members’ likes and dislikes. Also Bengali food is so magical that I could hardly say no to it inspite of the presence of ingredients I never laid hands on before. My parents and especially my sis, Sindhu would pester me to try out several things but in vain. If they see me now, they would be surpised.
This is one of the dishes I never tasted before marriage but people aound me were crazy about it.
Recipe source – Ria’s Collection
(Don’t go by the length of the recipe, it very easy to make)
For the vada/croquettes
Whole Urad / Black gram Dal – 1 cup
Water- 1/2 cup
Salt -to taste (about 1 1/2 tsp)
Green chillies- 6-7
Rice flour- 5-6 tsp
Oil- for deep frying
Warm water – 4 cup
Salt – to taste (optional)
For the dahi/Yogurt sauce:
Thick yogurt- 2 c
Water *- 1/2 c
Sugar- to taste
Tamarind chutney- 4 tbsp (optional)
Red chilli powder/ Paprika- 1 tsp
Coriander powder-1 tsp
Cumin powder-1 tsp
Cilantro/Coriander leaves- 4 stalks, chopped fine.
For Tamarind Chutney: (optional)
Tamarind pulp – 2tbsp
Water- 2 cups
Salt- 1 tsp
Jaggery-1/2 cup, powdered & packed
Red chilli powder-1 tsp
Cumin seeds-1 tsp
Fennel seeds-1 tsp
How to prepare Tamarind Chutney:
1. Heat one cup of water in a microwave (or stovetop) and add the tamarind paste to it. Mix well making sure there are no lumps in it.
2. Add the other one cup of water and boil it.
3. Once it starts boiling, reduce the flame to medium and add the jaggery. Mix well and let it melt.
4. Let it boil till it reduces to half quantity.
5. Meanwhile, dry roast cumin seed and fennel seeds and powder them.
6. Once the chutney starts coating the back of a spoon, switch of the stove and add salt, red chilli poweder and powdered spices. Mix well.
7. Adjust the salt if needed.
For the vada/croquettes:
1. Wash the urad 3-4 times until the water is clear.
2. Soak the whole urad for 4-5 hours or overnight. In the morning, drain the excess water.
3. Grind it to a thick smooth paste along with 1/2 cup of water, salt and green chillies.
4. We need a real thick batter, thicker than cake batter. Basically it should be scoop-able and shape-able.
5. Add the rice flour to achieve that consistency. Rice flour also adds a crunch to the vadas when fried.
6. Heat oil on medium high for 3-4 minutes. Once it is hot, reduce the heat to medium.
7. Scoop out some batter using a spoon and drop it . Deep fry them till golden brown.Each batch will take 4-5 mins.
8. Drain the excess oil on a tissue paper.
9. Soak them in water +salt (add only if you need more salt for the vadas) for 2-3 mins and squeeze out the excess water.
10. Arrange them in a big serving bowl. Keep aside.
For the Yogurt sauce:
1. If your yogurt is thick, add water and whisk till smooth. Add salt & sugar to taste.
2. If your yogurt is loose, do not add excess water. Just add salt & sugar to taste.
3. Pour over the arranged vadas.
1. Sprinkle red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder over the dahi.
2. Drizzle few tablespoonfull of homemade tamarind chutney over it.
3. Garnish with coriander leaves.