Onion Vadams or Onion Rice Flour Crisps are considered an accompaniment to many South Indian dishes like Sambar (lentil veg curry), Rasam (Tamarind Tomato Soup) and Pulikari (Tamarind Curry) and many more. They are of the same family as Appalams (Pappadams) which are also deep fried but made with white lentils (urad dal) and more commonly with many of the above dishes.
Onion vadams are found in many Indian grocery stores but of course nothing beats the homemade version. Back in my village in Tanjore District, India, these are left to dry on a cloth on the rooftop and because it is delicious even non fried, I have seen my aunts put up scarecrows to scare the birds from swooping in to feast on these crisps!
We don't have the space and time to dry these crisps like in the villages, hence recently my sister and my mom discovered an ingenious way to dry these crisps in a dehydrator which is usually used to dehydrate fruits like orange slices apple slices, bananas etc.
Here's the recipe for a small batch of homemade Onion Vadams - it yields roughly 150 pieces (1cm) or around 750gm. Will keep for weeks if dehydrated well.
1.5cups of rice flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp gingelly (sesame oil)
1/2 large onion - chopped small
1 big green chilli - chopped small
20 medium sized curry leaves - sliced
A small pot for stirring the rice flour mix
1) Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Then add the water and gingelly oil and stir to mix well..
2) Pour the rice flour mix into the small pot and on small to medium heat, stir till you get a thick consistency.
3) After 10 mins approximately, you would notice that the flour is coming together into a big lumpy ball.
4) Here, you add the chopped onion, green chilli and curry leaves. Mix well. Remove from heat and cool down.
5) Using your hands, pinch small mounds of the onion rice flour mix and place it on the dehydrator trays. Leave adequate space between the mounds and fill as many of the trays as possible.
6) Leave it to dehydrate for 24 hours. Store it in an airtight container.
7) Fry and enjoy homemade onion vadam crisps with your South Indian dishes!
A perfect accompaniment to Rasam, this dish is simply called Beans & Carrot Poriyal in Tamil. It also goes well with South Indian Vegetable curries like Sothi, Korma, Drumstick Potato curry etc.
2packets of French Beans
2 small carrots
1 medium onion
1 tsp pounded ginger
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt for preference
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1/2 cup Moong dal with 2 cups of water boiled for 5 mins in pressure cooker with 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and salt
1) Wash and slice the beans and carrots into thin slices. Chop the onion small.
2) Heat the oil and fry the mustard seeds and urad dal.
3) Fry the ginger and chopped onions.
4) Add 1 tsp turmeric powder and salt.
5) Then add the sliced beans and carrots. Mix well.
6) Add half a cup of hot water, close the pot with a lid and let it cook. Mix regularly so the vegetables don’t stick to the base of the pot.
7) Once the vegetables are cooked, add the boiled Moong dal and mix well.
8) Switch off the fire and serve hot.
Simply said, Rasam is a South Indian tamarind soup. One of the comfort foods for many South Indians when recovering from a cold because of its strong sour tangy flavour which really hits the spot and recently I found out that its a great hangover cure too! There are many varieties of rasam out there but the pepper tomato rasam is an all time favourite in my household. My mom makes it just right with the garlic and whole peppercorns pounded together with cumin seeds. Pair this rasam with a simple dal vegetable dish and spicy potatoes and you will have a nutritious satisfying meal.
2) Pound the peppercorns, cumin seeds and garlic till you get a roughly fine paste. You can leave it not so fine as well. Gather all the ingredients - from bottom left pounded pepper corn mix, curry leaves, dried red chillies and coriander leaves. Bottom pic, curry tamarind water and curry vadagam.
3) Mix the peppercorn garlic mix, coriander leaves, tamarind water, salt in the pot with the mashed tomatoes. Then heat oil and fry the curry leaves, dried chillies and curry vadagam and pour this tempering mix into the tomato mix in the pot.
4) Let the mix boil once and switch off fire. do not stir too much when boiling.
There are certain times when after indulgent bouts of spicy masala rich dishes, that one craves for light refreshing salads. This Quinoa Chickpea salad was introduced to me by a committee member during a gathering at my house in December last year to thank them for their hardwork throughout the year. It appealed to me instantly and surprisingly it paired quite well with the Indian dishes I had laid out. Its filling, loaded with protein and the necessary vegetables for fibre, taste and colour! The whole salad can be ready in half an hour and it has become a cult favourite at home.
Ingrdients (for 2 as a main meal and for 4 as a side dish)
1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 or 2 spring onion stalks, chopped small
1 or 2 coriander leaves stalks, chopped small
Red Capsicum, chopped small roughly 2 tbsps
Yellow Capsicum, chopped small roughly 2 tbsps
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Pepper per your preference
1/3 cup Lemon juice
1) Boil the quinoa till all the water has evaporated and set aside in a salad bowl.
2) Assemble all the vegetables and chickpeas on top of the boiled quinoa. Mix gently.
3) Season with pepper and lemon juice. Check for salt and add more if required.
4) Serve warm.
What do you do when you have loads of baby spinach at home? Your options are salad, a spinach rice pilaf or why not try a Spinach Balls Curry for a change? The following recipe requires two preparations - one of the spinach balls and another of the curry where the spinach balls soak in. Serves 4-6.
I made this curry right after organising a very stressful event in Dec 2020. I needed to do something to clear my head of the stress. I would usually go for long walk but it was right in the middle of the day at 12 noon and it was 35 deg C in sunny Singapore. Hence, I attempted this recipe. Cooking can be quite therapeutic, especially if the final result is quite surprisingly delicious.
Ingredients (Spinach Balls)
340gm (2 cups) potatoes, boiled and mashed
2 slices of bread (wholemeal preferred), soaked in water and squeezed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsps coriander leaves finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup chickpea flour (besan flour)
100gm baby spinach finely chopped
Canola oil for deep frying
1) To prepare the spinach balls, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2) Roll into small 2 cm balls.
3) Heat the oil and deep fry the balls until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.
2 tbps Canola oil
2 tsps ginger garlic paste
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsps coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp salt
100gm finely chopped baby spinach leaves
1 tsp sugar
2 tomatoes, chopped
2-3 cups reduced fat coconut milk/almond milk
1) Heat the canola oil in a medium pot and fry the onion, ginger garlic paste, spices and salt for 5-10 mins. Add the chopped spinach leaves and sugar and cook till the spinach has wilted. I added tomatoes later which is not obvious in this pic.
2) Add 1 cup of water and mix well. Cook till the tomato turns pulpy.
3) Blend to a smooth paste. The curry will have a greenish hue due to the spinach.
4) Add the fried spinach balls, reduced fat coconut milk and cook for a further 5 mins.
5) Serve the Spinach Balls Curry warm with rice/chapathi and a simple Kachumbar salad
Hi guys! I'm Nilofar Iyer and I have shared my dishes here for you to cook for your own family and friends with love and most importantly with their long term good health in mind.