I am on a appetizer/snack overload. I made so many these past 10 days for navrathri !!!! I had so many people coming over that I would make sweets and snacks along with chundal everyday !! It got to the point that I had my entire family just begging me for some rice or ……even, god forbid, chapatis !!!
There was a silver lining to all this snacking !!!! I got to experiment with different flavors and some of the results were awesome !!! This is one of my successes . It is Beet Vadais ( Beet and Lentil Fritters ). It is a recipe from Chettinad, a region in souther Tamil Nadu. Both my parents have spent time there. My mom grew up there and my maternal grandparents lived there until the very end. I love their cuisine. It is one the spiciest and most aromatic cuisines in all of India. The region is known for its spices !!!Their dishes are hot and pungent made with freshly made spice pastes or powders. It is known for its meat based dishes but definitely has a few vegetarian gems !!!
The recipe is extremely simple, but the flavors are divine !!!! There is no fancy steps or unusual ingredients just everyday Indian ingredients !!! The thing that makes it unusual is the different use of beets. People are used to seeing beets in a curry, ground and used in chapatis or purls, even rice and raita but never in a fritter or vada !!!! I have to say it works…..big time !!! Imagine if you will , crispy on the outside with a creamy , nutty interior….. slightly sweet from the beets and spicy as a result of red chillies along with a bite from the mildly licorice tasting fennel !!! I had to stop myself from eating all of them !!!
Though you would expect it to be purple or pink , they are more brown with a hint of pink/purple . I did find out from experience that unlike a masala vada , this one will not retain its crispness for long …..its probably b’coz the beets are wet !!! Also unlike a masala vada, you will have to add a little rice flour to bind it together. The batter will not be as thick as that of masala vada , its a little looser but flavorful.
BEET VADAS ( BEET AND LENTIL FRITTERS)
1 cup Channa/ Bengal Gram Dal
1-2 dried Red Chillies ( Arbol Chillies )
¾ tsp Cumin Seeds
½ tsp Fennel Seeds
½ tsp Salt
¾ cup shredded Beets
½ cup finely chopped Red Onions
¼ cup finely chopped Cilantro
1 tbsp minced Ginger
½ cup Rice Flour
Oil for deep frying
Soak the channa dal in warm water for at least an hour.
Grind into a coarse paste , along with the red chillies, cumin seeds and fennel seeds.
Add the beets, onions, ginger, cilantro and salt to the batter. Mix well.
Add enough rice flour to bind together.
Form 1 inch diameter patties and drop into hot oil. Fry till crisp. Drain and serve immediately .
This is off to Nupur’s Festive Collections : Navrathri recipes and What’s with my Cuppa ?? at Nandoo’s Kitchen. It is also off to My legume affair at Spicy Food. It was started by The Well Seasoned Cook.