I don't know how I made it this far in life without realizing that there is a south Indian equivalent of falafel.
In this recipe, you make the dumplings first, then add them to a spicy and creamy sauce. Amazingly, the dumplings hold together, absorbing the sauce but maintaining their structural integrity. So delicious!
Some notes: I used yellow split peas and undercooked them: I boiled them five minutes and let them sit for five minutes before draining and using. This seemed to work well--after simmering in the sauce, they were fully cooked. I also added a few tablespoons of water to the batter to get my blender to get working; they still weren't runny.
(from holy cow)
for the vadai:
1 c chana dal (I used yellow split peas; see above)
1/4 c rice flour
2 dried red chillies
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
oil for frying
for the curry:
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed with a garlic press
10-12 curry leaves (I omitted these)
1 TB ginger, minced
1 large tomato, finely chopped (I used 1/2 c canned diced tomatoes)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
1 c coconut milk
salt to taste
To make the vadai:1. Boil the split peas for five minutes; turn off the heat and let sit five more minutes. Then drain.
2. Grind the split peas with the rest of the ingredients. If the processor or blender blades refuse to turn because the mixture is too dry, add just a tiny bit of water, a tablespoon at a time. You want a coarse paste that clumps together, but it should not be too watery or you won’t be able to form your vadas.
3. Form 1-inch vadas by pulling off a piece of the dough, rolling it into a ball, and then flattening it between your palms. I got 12 vadas.
4.Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan. Fry the vadas until they are golden-brown. Don’t let them brown too quickly or they’ll stay raw inside. Drain onto a paper towel. Once the vadais are cool enough to handle, break them up into small pieces.
To make the curry:
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds sputter, add the onions and curry leaves.
2. Saute until the onions start to turn transparent. Add the ginger and garlic and stir well, about a minute. Add the tomatoes.
3. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, and garam masala powder. Mix them in and saute the mixture until the tomatoes are all crushed into a paste and most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Add a cup of water, bring it to a boil, then add the pieces of vadai. Once the vadai absorb most of the water, add coconut milk and salt to taste.
5. Stir well, bring the curry to a boil, and let it simmer another five minutes. Turn off the heat and add chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot. Serves about 4-5.