Traversing back to several thousands of years ago, we come across the most mysterious and interesting epochs of all times, the vedic B.C.s. Cooking during the vedic times had all the elements that lead to a balanced eco system and the amicable co – existence with the environment. A lot of methods and techniques that were the babies of necessities were churned out to make life more simpler.
Ghrtavantam i.e. cooking food using ghee was one method most of us quite know about. Some of you might have heard grandmother stories about food being deep fried in ghee. Surprisingly, it was only during the availability of the seasonal ingredients that the other natural seed oils or vegetable fats were used for cooking purposes. Oils were literally believed to be not suitable for daily usages as opposed to what we actually do today!
I can only conceptualise the kind of body changes and mutations that would have taken place in the human existences all through these millions of years with the consumption of every kind of experimental processed seed/vegetable oil. Surprisingly, the oils, when the needs arose, were extracted mainly from till or sesame seeds during the vedic times. The non Brahmans during this period also depended on animal fat for cooking and were fierce hunters.
These ancient times were just limited to healthy cooking and frying. Vataka/Vadai or the Medhu Vada was a staple recipe for deep frying along with apupa or the Malpua as we call it today. The use of oils were existent, but very liberal and seasonal. People were predominantly burning and charring vegetables and steaming rice and lentil cakes, than cooking them on vessels placed on fire.
The staple vegetables during the vedic times were the Suran, Sweet potato and most tuber crops. Such was the simplicity of ingredients used. Of-course the ancient times were abundant with spices which were the heat / “Ushna” causing ingredients especially the most favorite “Pippali” / long pepper, Haridra/Turmeric, Inji/Ginger/Galangal, Chakka/Cinnamon, Jeeraga/Jeerige/Cumin and black pepper.
The famous Vataka used a few of these gorgeous spices that makes this recipe so divine and satvik. Pepper, ginger and cumin are added for spicing up this deep fried heartthrob of the South Indian breakfast platters. Taking about fire, cooking using the agni as the medium of heat was considered no child’s play or a mundane task. The process of lighting up the fire in kitchens was more of a divine intervention. Continued afterthoughts on this and the nitty gritties of the vedic cooking will be continued on the next blog post. For the nonce, lope to the recipe card for the recipe of the ‘Vataka’!
Uddin Vade / Medhu Vada is almost a favorite in every household.
- Urad Dal / Black gram split lentil - 1 cup
- Water - Around 1 cup (For Grinding)
- Coriander Leaves - 1/2 cup
- Black pepper corns - 1 tsp
- Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
- Black Pepper Powder - 1/2 tsp
- Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
- Curry Leaves - 2-3 springs finely chopped
- Ginger - 1 tsp grated
- Table Salt - 1 tsp
- Vegetable Oil - For Deep Frying
Step 1: Wash and soak the urad dal in water for 4 hours.
Step 2: Turn on the stone grinder and add the soaked dal and half a cup of water. Let the grinder do its job now.
Step 3: Keep checking the consistency of the urad batter while the grinding process is ongoing. Check and scrape off the batter from the sides using a spatula. About ten to fifteen minutes of grinding the batter should feel smooth and much like stiff whipped cream. Add another half a cup of water of if needed and grind again.
Step 4: Once the batter is stiff and smooth, stop the grinding process and scoop out all the batter.
Step 5: To the batter add rest of the ingredients and mix well. Keep aside. Heat oil in a wok.
Step 6: Once the oil heats up, drop in a tiny blob of batter and watch till it sizzles.
Step 7: Keep some water in a bowl. Wet your hands, make vadas in the shape of doughnuts and drop in the vadas into the hot oil and deep fry till golden brown. The shaping of the vadas takes some practice and trials to get it right. Either ways, vadas in any shape or size tastes heavenly. :)
Step 8: Remove from oil and serve along side some sambhar and chutney.