Ullundu or Medu Vadai and Chutney

Happy Pongal!!

This year Pongal fell a day later than the usual January 14th!

This year Pongal was an opportunity for a long deferred get-together with my society friends. I got up at 5:00a.m. with an aim to finish off the cooking by 9 O'Clock but the loadshedding - regular bouts of current cuts - would not allow me to do so [:(]. The electricity was out at 7 and since it is quite dark these days (We are having a somewhat cold winter this year at Mumbai! - At least, the mornings were chilly!) I curled up cosily on the sofa with a hot cuppa and decided to take it easy.

On festivals the tradition is to get up really early, take an oil bath, pray to Almighty God and then start preparing the sweets and savouries - which depends upon the festival. On the occasion of Pongal the preparations include sugar cane (We buy the ready pieces rather than the whole grass), Vennpongal, Chakrapongal, vadai and chutney. I am posting below the recipe for vadai and chutney (As I forgot to take pics of the rest of the items).

Today was a special Pongal because it was spent in the company of some good friends - a truly relaxing start to the year and because the Pongal special lunch was overall a major hit[:)]. We also exchanged a lot of til guls (Sesame seed laddoos) as is the Maharashtrian Custom on this day.

While offering til guls they usually say - "Tilgul ghya, god god bola" - essentially it means that may your words be sweet after taking these sweet tilguls!

Ullundu Vadai:

Ingredients: (Makes about 45 to 50 vadais of diameter 2 inches)

Whole or split, dehusked urad dal (Black gram) - 2 1/4 cups
(Soaked for 3 hours in double the amount of water)
Black pepper (Kali miri) - 10 to 15
Ginger (Adrak) - An inch (Optional) - diced into very small pieces
Green chillies (Hari Mirchi) - 2 - cut into 1/2 cm pieces


1. Wash thoroughly the dal three or four times and drain.

2. Drain and grind adding very little water (For 21/4 cups I required about 1 1/2 cups of water approximately).

3. Grind till the batter is soft, light and fluffy. It should be light to hold and a little lumpy. Add salt as per your taste, a tsp. of hot oil to make it a little crispy (I used sunflower oil), a tsp. of chopped ginger and curry leaves (Optional), a tsp. of whole black peppers (Optional), and a tsp. of small pieces of coconut(Optional) and mix the batter well in clockwise motion.

4. Heat oil in a deep heavy bottomed karahi or pan till it is hot. Check by dropping a drop of batter in the oil. It should immediately make a sizzling sound and raise up without changing colour.

5. Take a clean plastic sheet. Wet it and hold it in your left palm. Take a small lump of batter and pat it on the sheet. Make a small hole in the centre. Slip the vadai from the sheet onto your right hand and drop it immediately in the medium hot oil from the side of the pan. (The way fritters are dropped for frying)

6. Fry on slow fire turning over after some time till both sides are done and the colour changes to golden brown. Drain with a slotted ladle onto a tissue paper. Serve hot with chutney.

Coconut chutney:

Grate one coconut and grind coarsely with 2tsps. of chutney dal (Pottukadalai in Tamil, or Bhuja hua chana in Hindi) and 3 green chillies adding a little water.

Check and add water if it is too thick and grind till the paste is well mixed but not completely homogeneous. The consistency should be neither too thick nor runny. Add salt to taste and season(As shown in the serving).

Seasoning for chutney:
Heat a tsp. of coconut oil and add mustard seeds(Or 'rai'). When they splutter add a few curry leaves and then pour it over the chutney. Mix well.

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