What is your favourite meal time??? Breakfast / lunch / dinner or skipping meal times !!!
My favourite is tea time snack - the evening 4 "O" clock tummy grumble ..:) On the contrary this is the meal time I have difficulty preparing something simple to satisfy my cravings. I know that there are endless varieties of snacks - easy, difficult, fried, grilled, steamed, hot , cold, sweet , savoury .... You know the list is very long but even then I have difficulty zeroing down on one item.
I love fried snacks even though they are not very healthy and out of all the fried snacks I love vadais. Usually vadais are made with raw lentil paste or rice flour which is seasoned with cumin, pepper, ginger , green chillies and curry leaves.
Depending on the shape and ingredients various names are given to the vadais - Medhu vadai, masala vadai,Thavalai vadai, Keerai vadai etc. Most of them are prepared as offerings for deities and are specific to certain festivals and auspicious days.
Then additions into the vadai dough became a trend starting with the most simplest of veggies like carrots, corn etc. Nowadays more modern flavours are coming up... Aubergine, Ladies fingers,Vermicelli, Rava, Chicken, Mutton, Fish etc.
I saw this recipe in one of the cookery shows on TV during my last visit to Coimbatore in 2011 and giving credit to my wonderful memory power I have forgotten the name of the cookery show.... I was drawn to this recipe as it had an unusual combination of ragi flour and banana stem.
Banana stem [Vazhai Thandu] is not so popular vegetable outside Tamil Nadu but now it is becoming a scarce ingredient even in traditional Tamil Nadu kitchens. I think this is mainly because of time constraints - removing the "not so pleasant" straw like interceptions in the flesh of the stem is indeed a time consuming process.
The real trick is to select a tender stem as they have minimal amount of interceptions but these interceptions plays a vital role in cleaning the gut and removing the unwanted cholesterol from the blood stream.
So lets get cooking...
For the recipe:
Ragi flour: 200 gms.
Rice flour: 100 gms.
Vazhai Thandu [Banana stem]: 150 gms.
Tumeric powder: 1/2 tsp.
Pearl onions: 6-8.
Fresh ginger: 1 inch piece.
Curry leaves: 1 sprig.
Fresh coriander leaves: a handful.
Salt: to taste.
Oil: to fry.
1.Chop the banana stem into tiny pieces and remove the threads as much as possible [Please see notes on how to remove the threads].
2.Boil the banana stem pieces with 1/2 tsp salt and tumeric powder until just soft.
3.Once done, remove from heat and let it cool. Drain all the water and reserve the cooked banana stem pieces until needed.
4.Chop the onions, green chillies, ginger, coriander leaves and curry leaves finely.
5.Mix all the ingredients along with the cooked banana stem and required salt.
6.Sprinkle a little water if necessary to make a soft dough.
7.Heat oil in a kadai. Take a small piece of the dough and flatten it lightly with your fingers.
8.Fry small batches [3-4 ] at a time until the vadais become dark brown in colour and crisp on the outside.
9.Drain on paper towels and finish with the rest of the dough.
Serve hot either with tomato ketchup or spicy coconut chutney.
Notes: To remove the threads from banana stem, remove the outer layers of the stem and chop the tender central part. Take some very thin buttermilk in a bowl and soak the chopped banana stem pieces. Using a thin skewer stir the pieces around and you will notice the threads intertwining the skewer. Remove the threads and keep stirring until most of the threads are removed.
You can also try steaming these vadais in a steamer for a much healthier version.
Scribbled by Reva