As you've probably already noticed, the blog has lost a lot of its pictures... I am slowly working to get them back out on here, but its a big task. I never actually realised how many pictures and recipes I had on this blog until I had to go through them to upload on Flickr and then repost. I took the opportunity to rewrite some recipes, and revisit the posts, so I could make them better. So I guess, in a way, there was a silver lining to this blogger induced black cloud. The pictures are not all up yet, but will be by the end of this week, and we can get back to business as usual :-)
But that said, I will also be taking a short blogging break for two or three weeks. One of my best friends is visiting me from Germany, and we have decided to head out into the Rockies for a road trip! I cannot wait... in my opinion there is nowehere as gorgeous as the Rocky Mountains in the summer, and the Jasper-Banff Highway, also called the Icefields Parkway, is simply paradise on earth (well, if you exclude all thr tourists, that is :-)) So after this one, my next post is likely to be at the beginning of August, unless of course I get inspired at a campsite or two or three!
Today's recipe is for Dom's Random Recipe Challenge. Dom challenged us to pick a random recipe from our most favourite cookbook, and make it. Of course, the best cookbook I own is my dear Mangalore Ladies' Club Cookery Book, so that was no contest. I also cheat a wee bit, as the book usually has several recipes on one page, and I pick the one I like the most out of it. The recipe I opened up to was these delicious 'Biscuit Ambade'... which of course, taste nothing like biscuits, are deep fried and look nothing like biscuits either! Its just one of those random Indian names for food, that Westerners find confusing, like 'plum chutney' that's actually made with dates!
So, biscuit ambade are actually gram fritters. They are made with cleaned urad dal (black gram, that's actually white after its cleaned, to add to the confusion!) with some coconut and a few seasonings... and are utterly delicious! Crispy and golden brown on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside, with the hot bite of green chilli, black pepper and ginger and the subtle smokiness of the curry leaves and the delicate, sweet and calming bite of coconut. Another winner from the streets of the Konkan coast.
These bring back more memories of being with my grandparents. My Aba would buy these ambades, and bring them back to us, wrapped in newspaper with coconut chutney enclosed in a banana leaf. Invariably, the chutney would leak out onto these ambades, and they would turn into a soggy mess... but what a absolutely tasty mess that was! In fact, when I grew up, and ate ambade that were freshly fried, I kind of missed the taste of those coconutty soggy ones :-) Even today the smell of frying fritters takes me right back to those hot sunny evenings in the village, sitting on the stone verandas, under the swaying coconut palms and greedily gobbling up these goodies, with not a care in the world.
Life is sure a beautiful thing, and as I grow older I am realising that its the small things that I've experienced and the little memories that I have preserved that make such a big difference to it in the end!
1¼ cup cleaned urad dal (white), soaked for at least 2 - 3 hours, then drained well
2 - 3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped
2 sprigs of curry leaves, torn into small pieces (around 10 - 12 leaves)
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 - 2 tsp salt or to taste
2 tbsp grated or dessicated coconut (or very thinly sliced coconut pieces)
Enough vegetable or canola oil for deep frying
In a blender or grinder, grind the cleaned urad dal with the salt and just enough water to loosen the batter (around 1/2 cup at the most). The batter doesn't have to be super fine, but should be as thick as you can make it. Look at thepicture below to get a sense of the thickness.
Mix the chopped chillies, curry leaves, balck pepper and dessicated coconut into the batter, mixing well. Let the batter rest for a few minutes. Taste and adjust the salt.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep pan ot pot, until just smoking, hot enough so that a drop of batter rises quickly to the surface covered in bubbles (or until a cube of bread browns evenly in 30 seconds) Turn down the heat to medium.
Using a largish spoon, drop big spoonfuls of the batter very carefully into the hot oil. Don't worry if they are not the perfect rounded shapes, they will taste really good either way!
Fry for 8 minutes, or until the ambades turn a golden brown colour and are crispy on the outside.
Gently lift out of the oil, and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve hot with a steaming hot cup of chai, coconut chutney or ketchup!
This recipe makes about 10 - 15 medium sized ambade