Dal Vada – Lentil Fritters

There are many things that I have gotten used to over the course of more than half my life in the Northeast, but really cold weather is not one of them. In winter, I retreat into my shell and indulge in activities like cooking, reading, knitting, and did I say cooking?

My hibernation phase also deprives me of the little nuances of nature that I count on for daily inspiration, making the advent of spring, warmer and more pleasurable.

 

This week has been a predictably long one however I have been nurtured, nourished and inspired by the advent of spring. Not major changes, just small things like the two robins dancing about as I paused at the stop sign on the way to morning ride to the station. Enjoying the vestiges of evening light, before the orange sun sets just in time to capture the corner crocuses and possibly the highlight of this week, is getting these daffodils before they opened and bloomed. Less that two minutes of time, but not even a few hours too soon, since we I returned home in the evening, they had bloomed in all their glory. It is these small triumphs that make the interaction with nature meaningful.

 

In the vein of small triumphs, there is also small mini getaways, right here at home. Sometimes alone, sometimes with the husband a little picnic. A few days back this was about crisp lentil and onion fritters (vadas) and a great glass of wine. These vadas are lighter than some I have made, lovely crisp addictive texture. You can actually reuse the leftovers (there are rarely any) to make a curry.

Crisp White Lentil and Onion Fritters

 These simple fritters are almost everything that one can hope for in a snack, and if I did not fry them, I would delete the word almost. They get done in a flash, crisp, spicy, tasty, versatile, vegan and gluten free.

 A simple concoction carried over from my childhood, these fritters work for me on busy evenings, simple events with a wine on the side and the left over fritters can actually be tossed into a light curried sauce.

 I use a good grape seed or light olive oil for frying them and a nice wide frying pan, which allows me to complete them in two batches. I have offered this recipe with black lentils, but they can be made with yellow split moong lentils as well. The consistency is important and it should be a paste not a batter. One can add some chickpea flour to the batter if you feel that you have added too much water.

 Prep Time: 2hours (mostly for soaking the lentils)

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes 15 medium sized fritters

 Ingredients

 ¾ cup black lentils

Water for soaking the lentils

½ cup water for grinding the lentils

3 pods of garlic

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

2 green Serrano chilies, very finely chopped

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

1 cup oil for frying

Chopped baby spinach to garnish

 Method of Preparation

 1. Wash the lentils well and soak in water for at least 2 hours. It does not hurt to soak them longer.

2. Drain and rinse the lentils and place in a blender, with ½ cup water.

3. Add in the garlic pods, salt and turmeric and grind to a smooth paste, the consistency of this should be a smooth, somewhat wet paste rather than a batter.

 4. Place the paste into a mixing bowl and add in the chilies, onions, thyme and cilantro and mix well.

5. Heat the oil in a flat frying pan, for about 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat. Test the temperature with a small drop of the mixture, it should sizzle to the top.

6. Add about 2 tablespoons of the mixture in a few spaces, spreading them to allow enough room to let the fritters fry without overcrowding each other.

7. Fry them for about 3-4 minutes on each side until a nice shade of golden.

8. Drain on paper towels.

9. Arrange on a serving platter and toss with the spinach leaves before serving.

 On a note of trivia, I have often wondered where the term spring fever came from. Chances are most of us want to step outside and walk, run or even sit outdoors just to enjoy the extra sunlight that the evening offers. So logically, this is bound to make us healthier rather than cause any fever.

 

Dal Vada - Lentil Fritters
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • cup black lentils
  • Water for soaking the lentils
  • cup water for grinding the lentils
  • 3 pods of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 green Serrano chilies, very finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup oil for frying
  • Chopped baby spinach to garnish
Instructions
  1. Wash the lentils well and soak in water for at least 2 hours. It does not hurt to soak them longer.
  2. Drain and rinse the lentils and place in a blender, with ½ cup water.
  3. Add in the garlic pods, salt and turmeric and grind to a smooth paste, the consistency of this should be a smooth, somewhat wet paste rather than a batter.
  4. Place the paste into a mixing bowl and add in the chilies, onions, thyme and cilantro and mix well.
  5. Heat the oil in a flat frying pan, for about 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat. Test the temperature with a small drop of the mixture, it should sizzle to the top.
  6. Add about 2 tablespoons of the mixture in a few spaces, spreading them to allow enough room to let the fritters fry without overcrowding each other.
  7. Fry them for about 3-4 minutes on each side until a nice shade of golden.
  8. Drain on paper towels.
  9. Arrange on a serving platter and toss with the spinach leaves before serving.

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