plant fuel

Food I’m Loving This Week: Urad Dal Vadai

Yep, that’s a mouthful if you aren’t familiar with Indian cooking. If you’re into the plant based diet, though, these are a quick and easy anytime meal.

Let’s break it down. If you live in a city of any size, chances are you have at least one Indian grocery store. In your friendly neighborhood Indian store, they sell all kinds of different beans and split lentils (“dal”) in 1-2 pound bags. There are so many different kinds that they take up half of an aisle, and it’s like nothing you’ve seen in an American supermarket. It’s a great source of cheap, good- for- you food – if you know what to shop for. But that’s a topic for another day.

Friends, if you are hankering for an easy and healthy substitute for chicken filets, brave the beans aisle of your local Indian store, bring home a bag of urad dal and make these tonight!

To make these resemble chicken, I soak a cup of the urad dal in water for two hours, drain and place in the food processor with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast and dried cilantro (but you can use any dried herbs you like). Add just enough fresh water (about half of a cup) so that the dal can grind. Blend until smooth, and you’ve got vadai batter!

To make this go a little quicker, have a frying pan warming up on the stove over medium heat with enough cooking oil to cover the bottom. Once heated, start plopping heaping tablespoons of the batter into the pan, maybe 3 or 4 at a time, and quickly spread them out like you would with pancake batter. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip, and cook another 2-3 minutes. (I consider mine done when they are lightly browned on both sides.) Transfer to a plate with paper towels on it so that they can drain and cool a bit and then serve however you like or eat a couple with your hands like I usually do!

As these were cooling off, I made the Brokeass Gourmet’s Thai peanut sauce as a topping for the vadai and had a red cabbage salad on the side (I’m weird like that) tossed in soy sauce, sesame oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and cloves (I was going for something like Chinese five spice) and crushed red pepper.

It totally didn’t occur to me until later that I could have stir-fried it with all those ingredients and that would have been pretty awesome too. Next time!

Got your own dinner hacks that use ingredients that are a little ways off the culinary beaten path? If so, let me know in the comments!

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