The biting monsoon wind and the relentless pitter-patter of the rain almost always puts me in the mood to bite into a crispy split chickpea fritter, and wash it down with a lap of hot tea. Of course, I also want to stop everything I’m doing and snuggle down under the blanket on my bed with a good book. Or ease myself into a chair by the window and watch the rain. While I’m biting into a crispy paruppu vadai and sipping some hot tea! Yes, we’re back right where we started. With good reason too — there’s nothing else that infuses warmth as tenderly as these mini monsoon comrades.
Didn’t we all give out a big whoop when our dads came back home with an armload of masala vadas wrapped in newspaper and tied in jute rope? Didn’t we all pester our mums when it rained to make them? Didn’t we stop by a paruppu vadai and dosai vendor, not minding the drizzle one bit and hoped to soak in the heat emanating from the oil and the masala vadas? Remember? I’m sure you’re nodding you head in agreement right now! And for those of you wondering what I’m going on about, split chickpea fritters are a popular South Indian snack (like an Indian version of falafel, except these are made with split chickpeas, not chickpeas) — especially when it’s chilly. I pray that you make a batch of these mood lifters and I guarantee that you’ll make memories like these that’ll stay!
This recipe is my mother’s and is a family favourite. They taste better each time she makes them! She’s perfected the art of making split chickpea fritters, I’d say — experimenting to see how they can be made say crisper than before, or more crunchy on the inside than before. And when she does make them (in batches of 3 to 6 or 8, depending on the saize of the kadai or pan), we’re always hovering about to grab the hot masala vadas as they are tossed onto kitchen towels on top of newspapers. Of course, tongues are burnt, fingers scorched and fights had. It doesn’t make a difference now — if I’m home, then my brother and I still hover about in the kitchen. Oh, and my mother knows she can get me to come home if she announces to me over the phone that she’s making paruppu vadais. Cheeky mum, this. 😉
Crispy, brown and scaarrrumptious, these split chickpea fritters are remarkably easy to make. The only drawback is that you’ll have to soak the split chickpeas a few hours in advance. But soak you must! See why you have to soak your lentils here. I reckon that you make these on one of those days you’re planning to stay at home all day to rest or clean-up or just simply be at home because you want to be at home. Soak the split chickpeas (channa dal) at the slightest hint of dark clouds.
Don’t forget to make chai too, okay? Or better, filter coffee! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #notjustspice tag me with @notjustspice on Instagram or Facebook when you do! Or, just leave me a comment below.
- 1/2 cup split chickpeas soaked for 4-5 hours in water (they will double in size)
- 1 tablespoon split black gram
- 1/2 cup finely cut onions
- 1/3 cup finely cut dill fronds
- 1/4 cup finely cut coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon roughly chopped garlic flakes with their skins on
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 2 cloves coarsely ground
- 1 inch piece cinnamon coarsely ground
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil or how much ever you see fit, to deep fry the masala vadas
- 2 green chillies finely chopped
You will find that the split chickpeas you soaked earlier have now doubled in volume. Drain the water, and pat dry.
Put that and the split black gram into the blender and blast it for a few seconds at a time, checking each time to see how it looks. This is how it should look: coarse — half of it should’ve ground completely, a quarter coarsely, and a quarter should stay intact.
Put it all into a big bowl. Add to it the onions, dill, coriander leaves, garlic, ginger garlic paste, cloves, cinnamon, and green chillies and mix all of them well. You could use a salad mixer if you want. Don’t add the salt now, as it’ll extract water from the mix.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a small kadai or wok.
While the oil is hot, add the salt to the mixture and give it one last good mix and then quickly start shaping it into 1” thick balls the size of limes.
Keep some newspapers or tissues on a tray nearby to place the hot vadas on, to absorb the excess oil.
When the oil is hot enough, spread some oil on your left palm or a small patch of banana leaf or the leaf of a jamblam tree, or a small patch of parchment paper and place a ball of the vada mixture on it. Pat it down lightly so it looks like a mini patty with thinner edges. They’ll hold together and won’t fall apart.
Now, put it gently into the hot oil. (I suggest you make the mini patties with thin edges in advance, on second thoughts.)
Keep turning them over so both sides are fried well and evenly.
Whether you’re going to put them in one by one (patting them down will take only about 3-5 seconds) or a few of them together at a time, it won’t matter. When you take each one out will matter.
Take them out when they turn a warm golden brown — a shade or two a darker than the golden brown top of a vanilla sponge cake or like honey. Don’t let them turn darker.
When they’re ready: evenly fried, lift them out of the oil gently with a frying skimmer or a slotted spoon.
Place them onto the newspaper or tissue you had kept ready earlier, and cover it with another layer of newspaper or tissue.
Get going with putting a few more into the oil!
They should be ready to eat in about 5 minutes after they’re taken out of the kadai (if you can wait that long).
Serving: Serve hot, dabbing them once more with tissue to absorb any excess oil. You could serve it with coconut chutney if you wish.
Storage: They tend to lose their crispiness as they sit out longer (even in a container) so finish them off in the same hour. You can store them in the fridge for a day ir two. Heat them before you eat them.
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