It's a rarity that we have an internet outage for no apparent reason and the customer service representative schedules to send the service guy only 24 hours later. However that's what happened with us yesterday and we had no internet connection yesterday for a good part of the day, and up until now today, though we are still unable to believe that it happened here in U.S.. Now for those who are following me on the baking marathon and wondered why there was no post from me yesterday, that should explain my absence. :)
When I planned baking snacks, vada was instantly on the top of my list. Masala vada / Split chickpea fritters are my absolute favorites among the vada category and knowing how much I loved them, my mother used to prepare them on every birthday of mine without being asked. However I think I have fried them twice or thrice in my kitchen in the past 19 years, trying to avoid deep-frying even though I love them to death. And so I took this marathon opportunity to try the baked version. I used a combo of legumes instead of using chana dal alone and made the parippu vada instead.
I tried them a couple of times until I got it right. The first time, I thought to brown them uniformly and they ended being a little hard though we finished them anyway. The second time I baked them until only the edges browned and they were perfect. Probably I am never going to deep fry masala vada / parippu vada again as these proved to be a perfect alternative to deep fried version and they were a super hit in my home. They actually remained crispy longer than the fried version and we finished them in a couple of days.
Ingredients (makes about 25)
1 cup mixed dals / legumes*
3 to 4 green chillies or to taste
Salt to taste
A handful of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 big onion, finely minced
Oil (I used canola oil.)
* I used chana dal (split chickpeas), urad dal (split blackgram) and toor dal (lentils) in equal quantities.
* Wash and soak all dals in water together for about 2 hours or so. Take care that they are immersed in water during the soaking period.
* Transfer the dals to a colander after soaking so that the water gets drained completely.
* Now add the drained dals, salt and green chillies to a mixer / food processor and grind coarsely without adding any water. Add cilantro and pulse few times. Transfer the ground mixture to a bowl and add minced onion to it and mix well. The ground mixture must be on the thicker side.
* Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
* Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray/brush with oil.
* Pour about 1/8 tsp oil and gently spread it using your fingers, about 2.5 inches diameter circle. Pinch about a very small lime sized ball and pat it (directly on the spot you just greased) into a thin circle of about 2.5 inches diameter.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining batter. Pat as many vadas as your baking sheet can fit, while spacing them apart.
(I greased each spot with about 1/8 tsp oil before patting the vadas to make sure that they are not going to stick to the foil. The vadas which were not greased underneath got stuck to the foil though I could recover them later.)
* Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 12 - 15 minutes. Brush the tops with oil one more time, flip and bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
(Use the time mentioned as a guideline and watch the vadas carefully during the final minutes of baking. Even if they appear yellow colored, they might have turned crisp and so you don't have to even brown the vadas as much as I did. The vadas can be even finger tapped to check whether they have turned crisp.)
* Serve them warm. If there are any leftovers, cool and store them in an airtight container and finish within two days or so.