An Ode to my Subbu Patti's (Grandma's) Vadai
Written by Vidya Gogul
Vadai are deep-fried, crispy snacks available on most Bangalore street corners! We will soon be uploading our Baale Mane Vadai recipe, but for now, here is Vidya's beautifully written piece about her relationship with her Grandma and with vadai.
As an avid foodie and a child of the 90’s in India before the advent of fast food burger joints, pizzerias that began to slowly wean us away from the imaginative cocoons of our kitchens into the ease of ordering from a click of a button on an app.
A Vadai to me represents my grandmother's love and as a child my glee in getting a treat while sitting on top of the kitchen counter amidst the gentle hissing the hot oil makes while the
soft balls of lentils make its way into the intimidating cast iron kadai (pan).
My grandmother, adept and confident, would swiftly multitask between telling me stories of her childhood or my favorite bits of Ramayana, patting the lentil balls on to a well-oiled banana
leaf and dropping them into the oil. Sometimes, she would make the Urad version of it, pausing to poke a hole in the middle of the crisp vadai.
While the dough is being fried, hissing, and the ladle clanging against the iron of the pan she would quickly get to work on the coconut chutney which always had to be made fresh and
consumed immediately. She avidly hates refrigeration even now - while pushing 90’s this is still her routine.
All through my childhood, Vadai has been the harbinger of festivities, birthdays, weddings and pretty much anything auspicious and happy. This positive reinforcement stays with me
even today and I have earmarked every happy occasion with the illustrious Vadai.
While I moved into my first apartment with barely any cooking experience the first dish I ever attempted was vadai. Clutching my mothers copy of Meenakshi Ammas Samaithi Paar (Cook
and See Cookbook) during the time when there was no cooking blogs or YouTube channels. I cross-referenced the recipe with my grandmother, who promptly told me to cook with my hands - as she always tells, every hand has its own taste and signature.
The final result yielded oddly shaped hilarious balls of lentils, however the taste was deliciously homelike. While biting into the crisp shell of the Vadai into the fluffy heart with its steam wafting and warming up my ruddy cheeks chilled by the then serene Bangalore, I knew I always had a little bit of my childhood with me wherever I went.
I later went on to learning a million kinds of vadai with Saunf (Fennel Seeds), with Banana Flower, with bits of mushrooms and pretty much anything that caught my fancy but the result has always been heartwarming and soul satisfying with a crunch.