Sunday, December 18, 2011

Recipe of the month - Vada Sambar

Vada also known as wada, vade or vadai is a very popular savoury doughnut-like snack from South India. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just as an evening snack along with a steaming cup of coffee. Medu vadas (in pic above) are extremely versatile in that they can be eaten just like that or with a variety of accompaniments. They can also be transformed into the equally popular rasam vada or dahi vada. 

This was one of my first few attempts at making Medu Vada. The shape and contour is not as perfect as I would like it to be but since these bite-sized snacks are so yummy, I have plenty of opportunities to get more practice! The strange thing is that I hadn't bothered trying to make vadas for several years because I was plagued by the notion that it was a very cumbersome affair and required overnight fermentation of the batter and all that. How wrong I was! A chance conversation with my mum on the subject erased my misconception. The urad dal used to make the vada just needs some soaking (ideally 3-4 hours) and after that, you can start to prepare them immediately. Usually, I soak the dal the previous night and then make the vadas the next morning but if I wake up and suddenly decide on impulse to make them for breakfast, I soak the dal for 2 hours in warm water. By the time I finish making the sambar and chutney (while the dal is soaking), the vada preparation can be started. So you see, it isn't really elaborate. 

All those wasted years.....sigh!

One more detail - I used to grind the urad dal for the vada in the mixie but I had to do it in 2-3 installments because my mixie jar is pretty small. It used to take too long so I started using my wet stone grinder for the same purpose - so much easier and you don't have to add much water either. I agree it is a pain to wash but it gets the job done much quicker and with far better results. 

Without further ado....here is the recipe. Hope you like it 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On my reading shelf: The Hobbit

 
The Hobbit is a fantasy novel written by J.R.R Tolkien, a prelude to the hugely successful Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit happens to be one of the best-selling books of all time with 100 million copies sold worldwide (something I discovered only recently). It proudly sits at the fourth spot on the all time bestseller list, just one spot lower than it's famous successor. I have been wanting to read The Lord of the Rings for over a decade now. I even stopped myself from watching the movies on account of not having read the books. An unexpected trip to the Kinokuniya bookstore in Singapore last weekend finally brought an end to this long drawn wait. There I was, pleased as punch to walk out with the entire series tucked firmly under my arm. I was however surprised to see another book in my prized collection. This was a book I had never heard of (I'm embarrassed to admit). After such a long wait, I was not really looking forward to reading a book that did not have the words 'Lord' or 'Rings' in it's title since that was not my original intention.  However, a background check on the Hobbit, made me realize that this was not something to be missed and it would provide a good insight into what I could expect from the Lord of the Rings.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Invigorating Indonesia!

Image source: www.wikipedia.org

Indonesia is the sleeping giant of Southeast Asia. With 18,110 islands (6,000 uninhabited), it is the largest archipelago in the world. Most of what I had read or heard about Indonesia before setting foot in the country largely had to do with the Komodo dragons, tropical forests, numerous islands, frequent volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. I was very keen on visiting Indonesia as I knew it would appeal to the nature lover in me. This is one country richly endowed with natural resources and this desirable feature coupled with the ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity within the country probably makes it an interesting destination from a tourist point of view.

So, in this post, I'm going to share with you my travel experiences in Bintan and Bali, two beautiful islands in Indonesia.