Friday, November 5, 2010

Vada Curry

Vada Curry (Spicy lentil gravy) is a popular south indian side dish served with Idlis or Dosas. As I mentioned earlier, the only time I make an exception to eat Idlis is when I have the perfect side of which is vada curry.  The perfect blend of spices along with the right amount of heat makes this curry irresistable. For this recipe, you need to make the vadas - it can either be steamed or fried. Since, there is not much of difference taste wise, I normally steam the vadas which makes them healthier too.


For the vadas:

1 1/2 cups channa dal (split chickpea lentil)
3-4 red chillies
3-4 green chillies
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2-3 cloves
1-2 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)
1/2 inch piece ginger , skin removed
2-3 cloves garlic, with skin
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5-6 curry leaves
Salt, to taste

For the curry:

2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
8-10 almonds
3-4 cloves
2-3 cinnamon sticks (small pieces)
2-3 bay leaves
3-4 green chillies, slit lengthwise
Chilli powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp oil


For the vadas:

Rinse and soak the channa dal for 2 hours.

Dry grind the green chillies, red chillies, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and garlic to a fine paste.

Make a paste of the dal and the ground masala (split into 2 parts) and add salt. Grind coarsely and repeat for the second part of the dal and the masala.

Add the vada batter to finely chopped onions and few curry leaves. Make the batter into small round balls and steam them for 10-12 minutes.  Allow it to cool and set aside. (You can make them well ahead and freeze them. Defrost and use them, when required).

For the curry:

In a deep pan, heat 2-3 tbsp of oil. Add cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, chopped onions and fry well.

Now, add the slit green chillies, ginger-garlic paste and fry till the raw smell fades away. Add the tomatoes and sauté till it becomes pulpy.

Make a paste with coconut, saunf and almonds. Add little water, if required.

To the tomatoes and onions, add chilli powder and fry for few minutes until the raw smell is gone. Now, add the coconut paste and 2 cups of water and allow it to boil.

After the curry starts boiling, add the steamed vadas (mash them slightly) and turn the stove to medium-low heat.

Add salt to the curry and lemon juice, if desired. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Mix well and serve with Idlis.

Makes 4-5 servings.