The weather has cooled down this week after a bout of heat last week, and before June bites the dust, I’m making sure that my tingling tongue remains “numbed” with the explosion of spiced up dishes and snacks in the pipeline 😉
I was so craving – again – for one of my childhood favourite snacks, the Masala Vada (Spiced dhall fritters). I have a story on this and you can read it here.
Masala means spices and Vada is the disc shaped lentil (dhall) fritters, very popular in South India. We used to call these snacks “Cucur Roday”, definitely a misheard word, coined by the Kuchingites as “Roday” instead of Vada or Vadai or Vade. “Cucur” is the Malay word for fritters or beignets in French.
Think Global, Act Local
With the migration of mostly South Indians to Malaysia and Singapore many, many years ago, even prior to the British colonization of Malaya, you would notice the strong influence of Indian cuisine on traditional Malay cuisine. Indian and/or Mamak restaurants are well received by Malaysians and Singaporeans from all walks of life. The roti canai has become one of Malaysia’s favourite breakfast dishes! Other dishes and snacks included the delectable curries in many forms, flavours and textures, Idiyappam (or putu mayam), nasi kandar, rojak pasembor, thosai (dosa), murukku and the lists go on…
Vada is a snack that has been a favourite in our household since time immemorial. I made this snack last weekend, trying to replicate the vada, I used to eat when I was a child growing up in Kuching, with the inclusion of the secret ingredient “hay bee” (dried shrimps).
I followed the recipe – with some modifications and adjustments – from the paperback, Hawkers Delight: A Guide to Malaysia & Singapore Hawkers’ Food (compiled by Jabbar Ibrahim and photographed by Tan Tai Peng)
300g dhall chickpeas (I used 2 cups brown chickpeas, soaked overnight)
150g shrimps (I used 1 cup dried shrimps, soaked in lukewarm water)
2 large onions, chopped
3-4 dried chillies, chopped (I used 3 green chillies)
1 tsp meat curry powder (I used 1 Tbsp Yeo’s Malaysian curry powder)
½ tsp garam masala (I used 1 Tbsp of the self mixed 6 “C” spices *)
2 eggs, beaten (I used 3 eggs)
2 Tbsp flour, sifted (I did not use any flour)
1 tsp salt (I used ½ cube vegetable stock, plus some salt to taste)
1 sprig curry leaves, chopped (I used one handful dried curry leaves, crunched)
1 tsp fennel seeds (not in the recipe)
1 tsp lovage seeds (not in the recipe)
Half a carrot, chopped finely (not in the recipe)
5 sticks French beans (Haricots verts), chopped finely (not in the recipe)
2 roots of fresh coriander, minced (not in the recipe)
Oil for deep frying (I shallow fried my fritters)
*The 5 basic ingredients in Garam Masala are PepperCorns, Cumin, Cloves, Cinnamon and Cardamoms. I added the 6th C – Coriander. If you remember the “C’s” in the garam masala mixed spices, you will not go wrong. That’s one trick I taught myself :-D
Since I had all the powdered form of the “C” spices, except cloves, I combined everything. I then ground 3 fresh cloves to powder form and mixed that in the other “C” spices, which rounded up my Garam Masala mix. In hindsight, it would be better to dry roast the fresh spices and then blend them to powder form, just like I did my curry dish here.
- Clean the soaked chickpeas and grind/ blend coarsely.
- Discard the water from the soaked dried shrimps and chop them roughly.
- Mix all ingredients thoroughly including eggs, curry leaves, chopped carrots and French beans. Leave the batter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I left mine for an hour or two.
- If deep frying, rub a little flour on your hands and make disc-shaped dough and roll the flattened dough over the flour. I did not use flour but made the disc-shaped dough and shallow fried the fritters. (Note: the batter crumbled easily while handling and the key word was – whether you like it or not – PATIENCE 😉
Vadas in mini cup liners?
By the way, I never owned a deep fat fryer, which is rather unusual for someone living in Belgium. It would definitely be easier to deep fry these vadas in the fryolator, however, without one, I became fidgety and thought out of the box.
It took me ages shallow frying the little gems, and suddenly I had a stroke of genius and baked some of the batter in little paper cup liners 😉
Did they or did they not work?
Erm…let’s just say, stick to the conventional way. After all, they’re Hawkers’ delight 😛
I am submitting this entry to the following ‘blog hop-over’ events –
By the way, I’ve said this before, carry on CURRY-ing 😉
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