Lentil dumplings in a creamy sauce. This is a classic south Indian recipe.
Cuisine: Indian, Tamil
- FOR THE VADAI:
- 1 cup chana dal (bengal gram dal)
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour
- 2 red chillies
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- Salt to taste
- Oil for frying
- FOR THE CURRY:
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves , minced or crushed with a garlic press
- 10-12 curry leaves
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 large tomato , finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder , like cayenne
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- A generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- 1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves for garnish
TO MAKE THE VADAI:
Soak the chana dal for 3 hours or if you don’t have the time do what I did and cheat– put the chana dal in a microwave-safe bowl, add enough water to top the dal by at least an inch, and zap for three minutes. Then drain.
Grind the chana dal with the rest of the ingredients. If the processor or blender blades refuse to turn because the mixture is too dry, add just a tiny bit of water, a tablespoon at a time. You want a coarse paste that clumps together, but it should not be too watery or you won’t be able to form your vadas.
Form 1-inch vadas by pulling off a piece of the dough, rolling it into a ball, and then flattening it between your palms. I got about 16 vadas.
Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan. Deep-fry the vadas until they are golden-brown. Don’t let them brown too quickly or they’ll stay raw inside. Drain onto a paper towel. Once the vadais are cool enough to handle, break them up into small pieces.
TO MAKE THE CURRY:
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds sputter, add the onions and curry leaves.
Saute until the onions start to turn transparent. Add the ginger and garlic and stir well, about a minute. Add the tomatoes.
Add the turmeric, chilli powder, and garam masala powder. Mix them in and saute the mixture until the tomatoes are all crushed into a paste and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add a cup of water, bring it to a boil, then add the pieces of vadai. Once the vadai absorb most of the water, add coconut milk and salt to taste.
Stir well, bring the curry to a boil, and let it simmer another five minutes. Turn off the heat and add chopped coriander leaves.