At our recent Eid party, we had ordered and served aambode ( pronounced aam-bo-day) with the drinks and they were quite a hit. We also packed and sent some off to a family friend in Aligarh who is a great foodie. She immediately wanted to know how to make them, and what they were and all that, so this post is specially meant for Mrs. Ahmed.
At my parents home, aambode is typically made on festival days - either Dussehra, Deepavali or Ganesh Chathurthi. It is served along with the main meal, as an accompaniment to the saaru-anna or the vangi-bhath. Its flavour blends wonderfully with Karnataka kadhi ( majjige huli), and sometimes I like to dunk these in the kadhi or even saaru ahead of time, so the vadas have softened and absorbed the flavour of the gravy. But they are also great as snacks, and a big advantage is that they stay crisp and taste good even when at room temperature so they can be made ahead of time and stored.
1 cup chana dal, soaked for 15 minutes
Handful fresh coconut, grated finely
1 inch ginger
1 tsp heeng ( asafoetida)
Handful curry leaves
2-3 Dried red chillies
Salt to taste
Coarsely grind all the ingredients together, with as little water as possible. One way to do it is to use the dry grinder instead of the wet one. The old-fashioned stone grinder works really well, if you want to make the effort and have one lying around. The less water you add, the crisper the vadas turn out. The ground dough should have some of the chana dal left whole ( as you can see from the blurry picture).
Form the aambode dough into patties about 2 inches in diameter. Pat them flat - my sister and I like to make them thin so they turn out crisper but traditionally they should be about 3/4 cm to 1 cm thick in the middle.
Heat oil in a wok. Deep fry the patties until nicely browned.
Serve hot or cold with dhania chutney or tomato chutney as a snack.