Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hyderabadi Dahi Vadas

I've never cared for the traditional north-Indian dahi vadas, which are tasteless if not topped with tamarind and mint-chutney and dollops of dahi ( yoghurt/ curd). And the south Indian dahi vadas which I do enjoy occasionally are rather heavy as well as, for me, too cumbersome, what with the soaking of moong dal overnight, grinding and waiting - I like my food to have quick results! So when my sister and I discovered this awesome recipe for dahi vadas from a Hyderabadi friend, we were overjoyed. This is a great dish for a party, never fails to get kudos and yet is easy to make - my kind of food! And it's very different from anyone's notions of dahi vada, so it's a spotlight-grabber - just serve this with an absolutely simple meal of arhar dal and rice, and everyone'll still be talking about the food at your party.

This dish also works as a great cold snack and I usually make plenty for a party so we have enough to dig out the next day. It's apparently a traditional recipe from the Nawab of Hyderabad( Jung)'s family.

5-6 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
1 liter dahi ( homemade and plain)
1 bunch coriander leaves
2-3 onions, chopped really fine
2 cups gram flour ( besan)
2-3 green chillies
salt and chilli powder to taste
1.5 cups water
Oil for frying

Handful curry leaves
2-3 dried red chillies
3-4 cloves garlic, slivered
Black mustard seeds
2 tsp oil

Grind together the dahi, garlic, green chillies, coriander and salt into a smooth paste and keep aside in the refrigerator.
Mix the besan with the onions, salt, chilli powder and water into a smooth paste the consistency of pancake batter - add the water sparingly while making the paste, which should be slightly runny, not thick.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan - spread the oil across the pan - and pour out the besan batter into small, flat pancakes, about 2-3 inches in diameter. Shallow fry on both sides until crisp and then set aside on absorbent paper to cool. Finish all the besan batter this way.

Once the besan pancakes are cool to the touch, lay them out in a shallow but wide dish side by side and layer them until you have used up all the pancakes.
Pour 3/4ths of the dahi-mixture on top of the pancakes and then put the dish away to refrigerate further.

Just before serving, top the dish with the reserved 1/4th of dahi mixture.

Make the tempering and pour it on top of the dish. Serve cold.

Heat the oil in a small wok.
Pour in the black mustard seeds and wait for them to finish spluttering.
Add the garlic slivers and wait until they start turning brown.
Add the curry leaves and red chillies and take off the heat.

As usual, I have no pictures from the last time I made this!

India Food Guide

Got this great picture of what to track down where in India from a friend:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chatpata Salad

Recently a health-conscious colleague started bringing this in as a snack when we were working seriously late on some deadlines, and I loved it. It's healthy but doesn't taste like it, and keeps you coming back for more! What could be better?

Handful Sprouts - mung beans, garbanzo beans ( kala chana/ chholey)
1 onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
Juice of 1/2 - 1 lime
Coriander leaves, chopped fine
1 tsp chaat masala ( available at Indian stores, for US readers)
Rock salt to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper
Just mix everything together, adjusting the seasoning and serve. If you want to serve it chilled, which makes it taste even better, skip the salt and lime juice until just before serving. You can also add a handful of soaked raw peanuts for extra sweet crunchiness!