Saturday, December 11, 2010

‘More-ish’ Split Pea Fritters

Growing up in Sri Lanka, we knew of two basic 'vadai’ (which is how my Sinhalese family pronounce it). They were ‘ulundu vadai’ (a savoury donut) and ‘kadala vadai’ (split pea fitter).  The aroma of frying vadai would greet us from street stalls along Galle Road, Colombo and hawkers carrying prawn vadai in shallow baskets would crowd around our bus at every pit stop on the road from Colombo to Kataragama.  
In Australia, Sri Lankans have brought the tastes of home to a new country, and our cravings for vadai have been regularly fed by delicious home-cooking of Tamil friends (who also corrected my pronunciation of ‘vadai’ to ‘vada’). But home recipes consist of a “little bit of this”, “a little bit of that” and not a lot of “how much exactly”. 
Then I came across this recipe for ‘Split Pea Fritters’ in Charmaine Solomon’s ‘Complete Vegetarian Cookbook’ and found it a safe option for Morning Teas at work, as these are free of gluten, lactose, eggs and nuts.
And once you have the basic recipe, it’s easy to tweak the dish to your taste.:

So here they are the Split Pea Fritters that are deemed ‘more-ish’ at Morning Tea.

1) Charmaine Solomon’s list of ingredients:
* 1 cup split peas
* 2 medium onions, finely chopped
* 2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped (or ¼ teaspoon chilli powder)
* ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
* ½ teaspoon salt
* Oil for deep frying
* Garnish: sliced onion and lemon wedges

2) My sister, Amali’s list of ingredients:
* 1 cup split peas
* ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
* ½ teaspoon salt
* Oil for deep-frying
Options to add, depending on who’s going to eat this:
* 1 red onion, finely chopped
* 1 sprig of curry leaves – finely chopped.
* Chopped/crushed garlic (1-2 teaspoons)
* Fresh, dried or crushed chillies (1-2 teaspoons or tablespoons-!)

What to do:
Whichever list of ingredients you choose, the method is the same. Cover split peas with water and soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain. Grind to a paste. (I use a food processor and put the onion, curry leaves, garlic and dried chillies in with the split peas). But you can also take the paste out of the food processor and mix all other ingredients, except oil and garnish (Ms Solomon’s list).
Shape split pea paste into small balls and flatten to 12mm (1/2 inch). I use a soup-spoon or a tablespoon to get a rough estimate of the size I want.
Heat oil in wok or deep fry pan. Make sure oil is hot or fritters will break up. Ms Solomon recommends adding fritters one at a time but I put in 5 or more at a time (because watching food fry isn’t all that exciting). Fry fritters until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with garnish if you’ve chosen to do so – we don’t bother as these usually get snatched leaving the stove. Makes about 20-30 vada depending on the size of fritter you’ve chosen.

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