Monday, April 4, 2016

Kuzhambu Vadam - Sun Dried Lentil Crispies

A short recipe and a cascade of nostalgia! 

The intense heat of the sun  kindled a burning desire in me to make the long forgotten Kuzhambu Vadams. I remember my childhood days when our home turned into a Vadam Vattal (Sun dried crispies and vegetables) factory at the onset of summer. The kitchen was filled with the pungent smell  of  freshly ground green chilly paste which would go into the koozh  - the gruel or batter to make vadams. The koozh was cooked in huge brass vessels the previous day. The next dawn saw my grand mother and her assistants clamouring around collecting old dothis, an umbrella, a cane and other paraphernalia to make huge quantities of Vadams to last for an year! A wooden cot was also shifted to the courtyard! I can hear some one shouting out 'I thought this was about Vadams!'. Yes I am coming to that! You will soon know what an important role the cot had to play in Vadam making! The old  white  dothi was spread out on the cot. The huge vessel containing the cooled  'koozh' was brought out by the helpers. Grandmother sat on a short stool beside the cot with an attendant holding the umbrella over her head. She efficiently  poured out the 'koozh' using a small ladle in small circles at regular intervals on the dothi which was spread out on the cot. Now and again grand mother lifted herself up in a half standing (or should I say half sitting?) position. The attendant shifted the small stool to a more convenient position, and gently guided  grandmother once again on to her seat so that  she could continue with her Vadam making. The Vadam batter would  get over precisely at the same time when  grandmother meticulously completed one circumambulation around the cot. We - the children - took turns as in a relay game to shoo away the crows and squirrels with a proud  wave of the cane, like a performing magician! Once my grand father executed his innovative idea and fixed  four posts on to the four corners of the cot  and hung a mosquito net over it to protect the Jevvarisi Vadams (Sago Crispies) from the avian onslaught! But grandmother was never sure of the rodents, and hence we were allowed to play "Magician" and hover around the cot waving our magic wands through out the day. The ants were kept away by placing four water filled cups under the four legs of the cot. It was also our duty to fill up the cups as and when the water evaporated due to  the extreme heat of the sun.
The other type of Vadam was the Nool Vadam or  Peni Vadam which more or less looked like curled up noodles.This was prepared using cooked  rice flour and pressed through a brass  Hand Press called Nazhi.  The Jevvarisi Vadams ( Sago crispies), Peni Vadams (Rice crispies), Pori Vadams (Puffed Rice crispies) and Kuzhambu Vadams ( Lentil crispies)  enjoyed the blazing hot Sun bath under the mosquito net canopy for three or four days till they became bone dry. The sun dried Vadams were pealed out of the dothi and stored in huge boxes which in turn were stacked off in the store room.
Kuzhambu Vadam is prepared by grinding lentils with spice. The dried vadams taste delicious when fried and dunked in Puli Kuzhambu or Koottu. Kuzhambu Vadam plays a vital role in 'Naal kolam' which is a celebration held at the girl's home prior to her marriage.The girl is decked up in all her finery on an auspicious day and made to sit on a wooden plank. The women of the family adorn her with colourful glass bangles, flowers, sandal paste and vermilion. The girl places small scoops of the Kuzhambu Vadam batter on a large tray placed in front of her, indicating  the beginning of  the wedding preparations. In olden days all the Papads, Vadams and Pickles for a wedding were prepared  at home in advance.  It is believed that when the bride to be inaugurates the preparations with all her heart, her prayers and good will would ensure a smooth and happy wedding. My Naal Kolam was the beginning and end of my Vadam making stint! I usually got my stock of Vadams from my mother's place prepared by our dear Chef - in - need  Meenakshi Mami for a long time. Now that we have cut short on eating fried stuff,  I buy Vadams  at the near by departmental stores for parties or feasts.
With the sweltering heat this year, my mind was steeped in my Vadam nostalgia ! Hence I prepared Kuzhambu Vadams  especially for this post!
Split black gram dal - 2 cups
Red chillies -4
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Salt - 1/2 tsp
1. Wash and soak black gram dal for two hours till the dal becomes soft.
2. Drain the dal and grind with all the other ingredients into a thick batter with out adding water.
3. Spread a big cloth on a wide tray.
4. Pinch  small marble size balls from the ground batter and place them in rows at regular intervals on the cloth. 

5. Sun dry the Vadams by placing the tray in a clean place devoid of dust. 
I covered the tray using another cloth to avoid dust. Though wet vadams stuck to the cloth on the first day, they could easily be peeled out after three days of sun drying without any damage.
6.Store the Vadams in a dry and air tight container.
Tamarind - 1 lemon size ball ( Soak and extract a thick juice)
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Bengalgram dal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch

Broken red chillies - 2
Slit green chilly - 1(Slit)
Chopped fresh ginger - 1 tsp
Chopped onion - 2 tbsps
Curry leaves - a few
Sambar powder - 2 tsps
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Salt - 1 1/2 tsps
Rice flour - 1 tsp
1. Heat sesame oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds.
2. When the mustard splutters add fenugreek seeds and Bengalgram dal.
3. When the dal turns golden brown in colour add the broken red chillies and fry till crisp.
4. Add asafoetida, followed by curry leaves, slit green chilly, ginger and onion.
5. When the onion turns pink in colour add the sambar powder,turmeric powder, and rice flour.
6. Stir the spice powders once and immediately add the tamarind extract and salt.
7. Cook until the kuzhambu thickens emanating a very pleasant aroma and switch off flame.
8. Deep fry the Kuzhambu Vadams till they turn golden brown in colour and dunk them in the Puli Kuzhambu.

Enjoy the Vadam Puli Kuzhambu with steaming hot rice. 
Chopped snake gourd - 2 cups
Fresh grated coconut - 2 tbsps
Green chillies - 2
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Rice flour - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Curry leaves - a few
Sesame oil - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Bengal gram dal - 1/2 tsp
Broken red chilly - 1
1. Cook chopped snake gourd, adding asafoetida and curry leaves till the vegetable is done.
2. Grind together coconut gratings, green chillies, cumin seeds and rice flour into a smooth paste.
3. Blend the ground paste and salt into the cooked vegetable.
4. Cook till the koottu thickens.
5. Heat sesame oil and splutter mustard seeds.
6. Add Bengal gram dal and fry till it turns golden brown in colour.
7. Add the broken red chillies and pour the seasoning into the koottu when the chillies become crisp. 
8. Deep  fry the Kuzhambu Vadams in hot oil till golden brown in colour , drain and dunk them in the koottu.

Relish the Podalangai Vadam Koottu with hot rice. It is a good side dish for Chapaties and Poories as well.

2 Post your Comments:

sonaramji said...

thanks. this is what we are expecting.

GreenComotion said...

The Karu-Vadaam VathalKuzhambu is one of my favorites.
While I won't make it, I will get hungry looking at your post :)
Thanks for the recipe.
Have a Happy Week!
Peace :)