My first encounter with the uddina vade, “Meduvada ” as the non-Udupi fellows call it, is in my early childhood, it was made on the memorial day of ancestor. There were vadai’s and vadai’s like garivade the crisp vadai’s that sometimes may have flavouring herbs, and at times some veggies then avalakki vade, the sajjige vade so on so forth. Then from the family of deep-fried sinful pleasures there are bhajje’s and ambode with subtle differences but differences nonetheless.
The tantalizing taste of the deep-fried snack of course is the bait that entices early cooks. I mean who wants to cook mundane rice and rasam. I conquered the garidvade, the sajjige vade, and the avalakki vade then one day I ventured into the world of uddina vade.
Like all good Udupi girls of my generation, my library had the Kadambila Sarswati and I think the book was titled saviruchi. Flip to page 161, and there it was Uddina vade.
- Soak 1 cup of urad dal, for 2 hrs.
- Drain excess water,
- Add salt, and spice(pepper/green chillies/ginger)
- Finely chopped onions—optional
Heat oil in a wok, wet your finger tips with cold water, scoop manageable dough, pierce the centre with your thumb and gently let it into the hot oil deep fry serve with chutney.
Sounds quite easy does it not? So off I tried it.
These were the days when we were not allowed to handle the mixer, so meant hint the grinding stone. When it was done, I served to the best person in the world my dad, who ate it, and told me it was wonderful, and that next time I should try how it would turn out if the outer casing was golden brown and inner less liquid. That’s when my grandfather added; maybe you should fry on a low flame. Finally came my buddy my brother, “Yuck, akka, it’s all goovy inside.” Well as you can guess, the Vada was burnt on the outer side and uncooked inside
My mother’s aunt Nagaveni however was more supportive, “ಅದುಮಗಅರಿಬೇಕು, ಅಲ್ಲಿಂದಅಲ್ಲಿಗೆಮಾಡಬೇಕು.” That is the batter should not be left after grinding but deep-fried immediately. Next few years, I did manage to the batter consistency etc. but the flat Vada with central void still eluded.
A decade later when I was newly married we were invited to my friend Deepa’s house; she had made vadai’s generally most southies mean uddina vada when they say vada. So nonchalantly she dipped a spoon in water, scooped a spoonful of batter, punched a thumbprint eased the whole stuff into the oil out came beautiful oval shaped vada’s with the central void!! It looked so easy I returned to the holey—affair but believe me it was just a holy mess.
It’s the consistency I thought, so I bought MTR Vada mix, GITS Vada mix and Godknowswhat other to find the right consistency. No go.
I poured out my plight on sulekha there were great cooks who gave me useful tips I created hard vadas. Oily ones, fat ones, worm like ones, but each time the hole was wholly eccentric. I somehow could not get to the middle of it.
Looking at my state, my mother gifted me an “Anjali vadamaker” guess what, I followed all instructions, made my batter from scratch, sometimes used ready to make mixes and each time unfailing the vadai’s emerged as sun-tanned nematodes.
Last week as we met at the Landmark’s weekly alumni sharing Sunil Srivatsava of Carasid told me “You are not able… what do you mean you are not able… that is your excuse.” Well, then the Nemesis called uddina vada raised its ugly head and told me to challenge me, so for the next twenty-four hours, I affirmed, I can create the perfect void… in the Vada, while my intellect cried out avoid… I sang “There‘s a hole in the Vada, dear shammi…” to keep my spirits going.
Soaked the urad.
Ground it to paste in the mixer adding ½ tsp. Of water
Salt,pepper, asafoetida, karipatta,
The batter seemed a little stiff but still workable. Now I dipped my fingers, into the water just to get it moist, scooped out batter, and guess what the dough was malleable, I flattened it with my thumb, as I did so I could feel my pulse raising and heart pounding as created the holey centre… holding my breath.. And saying my prayers I gently let go… I mean the perforated batter.
And lo behold, there floated on the oil, the perfect Vada, just porous enough to declare that it was like the mother earth, crisp outside and soft within, with a little of salt, and spice yet everything nice.
My neighbour Mrinmayi, dropped in and gave the best ever compliment a cook could have, “aunty mast zale, me azun kaanaar” on she went to help herself.