Ulunthu vadai is a kind of spicy snack available in India along with hot tea or coffee.
Now it is the time to recollect something behind this recipe for my younger brother, who always looks for my nostalgic anecdotes:) It is my mom's most favorite snack and she used to prepare it along with coffee whenever we have a guest. She used to cut a small piece of banana leaf from our garden and use it as the surface to flatten the vadai. Very rarely I have seen her using a well washed empty milk sachet (Aavin milk cover) to flatten the vadai. But vadai made over a banana leaf is always a pleasant sight to me:)
My grandmas' cousin (Sulochana Achi) taught me to do it with just one hand, without any base to flatten the dough. I find it much useful after practice and thanks to her, everyone in my family loves my vadai. I love the way my father in law appreciates my vadai. After marriage I planted some plantain trees in our backyard just for leaves and tried my best to serve the meals over banana leaf for my in laws, who absolutely love the native food.
Along with the most favored food comes the best memories too. Right!
|Hot crispy urid dal vadai served with chutney. Save some for thayir vadai:)|
|Vadai mavu (batter)|
Ingredients: (For 12 small size vadai)
Urid dhal - 1 cup (200 gm)
Oil (peanut oil / corn oil) - 200 ml
Shallot / red onion (chopped) - 1/2 cup
green chilly - 2 (finely chopped)
cumin - 1/4 tsp
whole black pepper - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
Ginger - 1 tsp (finely chopped) -> (I don't add it)
Wash the urid dhal twice thoroughly. Soak the urid dhal in cold water for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Grind it to a fine paste with very little water. The final consistency should be like the above photo. Imagine the consistency of soften butter to get the correct batter(vadai mavu).
Add the required salt + 1 tsp black pepper and grind again for a while.
Pour the batter to a mixing bowl. Taste and adjust the salt now.
Mix the finely chopped onion, green chilly, curry leaf , whole pepper, cumin with the batter.
Heat the oil in a wok. Wait till it reaches the hottest point. Reduce the flame to medium.
Wet a plastic sheet or banana leaf (small square). Take a small ball of batter , place it on the sheet, gently flatten it and make a small hole at the center.
Deep fry the vadai in medium heat till it gets the golden red color.
Drain the oil , take out and place on kitchen towel / multi holed basin to drain excess oil.
Ulunthu vadai is ready!
Serve with coconut chutney along with hot coffee or tea in the evening.
Also makes a good side dish with Idly, Venn pongal, sarkarai pongal etc.
Tips for a perfect ulunthu vadai:
Making ulunthu vadai is always a challenge for many. So I insist on the following points whenever any one asks me.
1.Always use unsplit, whole skinless urid dhal for making vada and idly. (If we are using split dhal with skin then increase the amount of dhal while soaking. But we can't get more fluffy batter with them).
2.It is better to soak the dhal inside fridge. The purpose is to prevent fermentation of urid dhal, as leaving the batter in hot weather results in little fermentation, which makes the vadai absorb more oil while frying. So I always soak it inside fridge.
3.The batter can be prepared 2 days earlier, but should be kept inside fridge till we add onion and fry.
4.Never add more water to grind the batter. The vadai batter made using Indian grinder yields more number of vadai than that of the Indian mixer made. Most days I use mixie to prepare my batter, sometimes my Ultra grinder (after 2014).
5.If the vadai batter becomes little watery,add a tbsp or more of rice flour. But it will reduce the taste. So leave the watery batter overnight in fridge to remove the excess water.
6.The vadai should be crispy in the outer layer and soft at the inside. So fry it in medium heat. Never allow the oil till smoking point.
7. Always use a thick iron wok to deep fry the vadai, it helps in uniform cooking . This is done to avoid the batter uncooked in the center of the vadai.