LS's kindergarten class has a very interesting activity every year and it involves hatching chicks. Yes, fun isn't it ?
They have a farmer bring in a hen and rooster to school and then set up an incubator with dozen eggs. Every day the kids are asked to rotate the eggs ever so gently and wait for the eggs to hatch. It is a week of great anticipation and I can imagine the level of excitement in her class.
So after a week of waiting, 11 of the chicks hatched on one Tuesday in May. And the kids got to name them. Little Sis named hers "Rosie". Rosie, Rosie....why Rosie I wondered.The next day they were also allowed to touch and pet them. LS was pretty excited about the chicks and said that they were soft to touch and pooped a lot.
I think I expected some kind of a reaction when we cracked eggs to make an omelet at home after this experiment but it seemed she was very aware that the eggs in her school were different from the ones we buy. "The ones at home are not fertilized eggs so it is okay to crack", she told me. "If you by accident get an egg by the side of the road and don't know if it is fertilized or not, then don't make omlette", she warned.
Now to the Dahi Vadas which both Little and Big Sis seem to like. My Mother made lovely Dahi Vadas all her life. Perfect donut shaped vadas, with a neat hole in the center dunked in a sweet and tangy yogurt sauce. I of course loved the yogurt more than the vada. And I also liked mine with some Tamarind Chaatni unlike a Bong Doi Bora with a sprinkle of Bhaja Moshla. However what held me in awe about the Dahi Vada was the perfect hole at the center of the disk. My Mother would take a bit of the dough on her palm, do some magic trick, slide it into the hot oil and there would be vadas with a hole frying in the hot oil, like savory donuts, only then I had no idea about donuts. I could never ever crack that code.
"How do you make a hole at the center of the Vada" -- seemed to be the greatest mystery of my life.
Then one fine day, our babysitter from last year, who was a Gujarati and a really good cook, made Dahi Vadas.
And she did not make a hole. In the Vadas that is.
Her vadas were round balls like bigger pakodis. Maybe they were called "Bhallas" and not "Vadas". I am not sure. Honestly, you could have called them a "Bhatia" or a "Patel" and I wouldn't have cared.That one could make Dahi vadas without a hole at the center was a revelation to me. Without that hole, the lentil dumplings were mere dumplings which were not that hard to make.
Well, there were still more things to crack like why did the vadas turn hard on some days , why do I worry all the time, why oh why it is June already...etc.etc.
But until then here is how we make Dahi Vadas at home. And I still like the yogurt far more.
Dahi Vada or Doi Bora
Makes about 15-20 medium sized vadas
Soak 1&1/2 Cup of Urad Dal in water for 10-12 hrs which means overnight.
Next drain the water and in a blender jar add
the Urad Dal
2" of chopped ginger
2-3 green chillies(optional)
Adding minimal water make a thick paste. The water should be just enough to make the blade spin and should not make the batter liquid.
Pour out the batter in a wide mouthed bowl and add
1 tsp of salt(add more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
1 tsp of Fennel seeds(optional)
A friend suggested adding raisins to the batter and I did do it once but it is totally optional
Whip the batter well with a fork for 5-6 minutes. This will make the batter fluffy and airy which in turn will result in softer vadas.
Now heat enough oil for deep frying the vadas/lentil dumplings. First test if the oil is hot by putting in a pinch of the batter. If it bubbles and rises to the surface the oil is ready
Drop the batter with a spoon, a small scoop or with your fingers into the medium hot oil just as you would do for a pakodi. Don't worry about the shape, they will be spherical but not necessarily uniformly so.
Fry the vadas till they are golden brown. Take out with a slotted spoon and drain the excess oil on a paper towel.
Wait for about 6-8 minutes and then dunk the vadas in lukewarm water. Let the vadas soak for about 15 minutes.
You will notice that the vadas have swelled on soaking. Take out each vada and put it at the center of your palm. With the palm of your other hand press gently to squeeze out the excess water. Do this for all vadas and keep them lined in a serving tray
Now get the Yogurt ready. My favorite part.
In a big bowl add
2.5 Cups of thick Whole Milk Yogurt
1/2 cup of Milk
Whisk the yogurt well so that you get a smooth, creamy texture.
To this yogurt now add the following according to your taste
sugar ~ about 1 tbsp
Chaat masala ~ 2 tsp
a pinch of Kashmiri Mirch
Give a good mix. Taste and then adjust the above until yogurt is sweet and tangy.
Now pour the yogurt over the vadas so that all the vadas are submerged in yogurt.
Sprinkle some more red chilli powder, chaat masala, kala namak and bhaja masala(or roasted cumin powder)
Drizzle tamarind chutney and garnish with coriander leaves while serving