My MIL claims not to be much of a cook herself. But the truth is, her discomfiture in the kitchen makes her one of the better home cooks I know of. She measures and tastes and strives for perfection when most people, including yours truly, get side-tracked by their own confidence into serving without tasting first. One of the first things I remember from her kitchen was this delicacy she called Kalmi vada. I had been married barely about a month, when she made these for the Holi festival over a decade ago. I remember she'd sounded surprised when I said that I'd never eaten those before. Apparently, Kalmi vada is a Rajasthani snack....never saw it made in my Rajasthani side of the family though.....
So that year, she made it and I was sold (doesn't take much to sell me on the fried stuff anyways). After that, I thought of it often, but never a chance to eat it again. Although she's been visiting us every summer for the past couple years, I never tried to make an effort of learning how to make them either. This year, during one of our inane pre-Diwali preparations, the mention of Kalmi vada came up...which is how we ended up with her making, and me devouring those Kalmi vadas once again.
Chana dal 1 cup, picked and soaked overnight in 3 cups of water
Green chillies 2-3
Ginger a good 2 inch piece
Cilantro chopped about 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Red chillies 1/2 tsp
Asafoetidia/ Hing a pinch
Roasted cumin powder 1Tbsp
Baking soda 1 tsp
Oil to deep fry
- Drain off the dal and grind it coarsely with no extra water added.
- Make a coarse paste of green chillies, ginger and cilantro and mix it in with the lentil paste.
- Now add in the rest of the spices.
- Heat oil to medium high.
- Just before you are ready to fry, mix in the baking soda with lentil paste.
- Using greased palms, shape the lentil paste into patties the size of burger patties and drop them carefully in to fry.
- Fry them 1-2 at a time till a light brown on all sides (these will be fried again, so keep them on a moderately-cooked side).
- Drain them on a paper towel, and allow to cool completely. It takes at least an hour if not more.
- Cut each patty into 4-5 pieces about an inch thick.
- Just before serving, fry these pieces again for 5-6 minutes *
- Serve hot with the spicy coriander chutney or sweet and sour tamarind chutney.
My two cents: These are really good; and addictive. Not to mention, pretty easy to make. The biggest challenge was to wait that hour in between the two cook times.
* As a side note- I felt too guilty deep frying twice. So, ignoring my MIL's displeasure, I baked them the 2nd time around: in a single layer on a cookie sheet, 350F; about 20 min with a flip-over half way in. Even she conceded that they tasted as good as the twice fried ones!!
With this measure, we got about 4 decent sized patties. Since each of those get cut up into 5, we ended up with a lot of Kalmi vadas. We just saved the leftovers in an air-tight container for 2 days- and they were gone :-)
And now, I am one recipe richer....