Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pumpkin Vada or Saandge

Ganesh Chaturthi comes once again. Walking the aisles of the grocery store I spy red pumpkin. My first thought is to make raita. I then drift towards fried slices. A distinct memory slides into view, my mum frying grated pumpkin vadas or saandge, as she called them. I see her adding sesame seeds, chiles, spices, cilantro and rice flour to the grated mess. Hands are her best tool, as she squishes the pumpkin. I see her fingers form small flat vadas which she lays on a thali. Once all of them have been formed, she fries them till they are dark brown and crisp. As she grates and mixes, she tells me how she finds this recipe.  Nothing secret.... just her literal translation from a Marathi magazine. What stands out most is her eagerness to give me the new found recipe. I love that she wants us to share the same flavors even though we live oceans apart. The present day holds this cherished memory dear to my heart.

And thats enough to pique my curiosity, so I grate some pumpkin. And add herbs, spices and seeds. Then, squish with my hands. But I balk at making the small flat vadas, choosing to form, flatten and fry the vadas in one fluid motion. Saves me a whole lot of time since I grate a whole lot of pumpkin!!!

Serves 4-6

1/2 pound Red Pumpkin 
3 green Chiles
1/4 cup Cilantro
1 heaped tablespoon Sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder 
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
3-4 tablespoons Rice Flour
Canola Oil for deep frying

Peel pumpkin. 

Grate pumpkin, either using a hand grater or a food processor with a shredding disc. The latter is much faster, with same results as a hand grater. 

You should have two or three cups of grated pumpkin. Put pumpkin in bowl.

Mince green chiles and cilantro and add to pumpkin.

Mix sesame seeds, spices, salt and rice flour into pumpkin. Use your hands to distribute everything equally. Or use a spatula. 

Heat canola oil in a kadhai or wok.

Test the oil by dropping a strand of pumpkin in. It should sizzle and float to the surface immediately.

Form one small 1 inch flat vada and add to hot oil as a test. The vada should hold together as it fries. If it breaks apart, add a tablespoon more of rice flour to bind the pumpkin.

Form 1 inch flat patties and drop them carefully into hot oil. Depending on the width of the pan you could  fry 6-8 vadas at a time. The vadas should be flat to insure that the insides cook evenly. Fry till the edges are brown, then flip and cook the other sides. 

Drain on paper towels.

Eat them piping hot!

Shauna uses a video to make a Playdoh Ganesh. It's is adorable and authentic. The thali comes together easily. I try a few different vegetables. Snake gourd and moong dal subji sits next to corn and cucumber. There is a mound of pooris and shrikhand. Cauliflower coconut curry is poured into katoris.  Umbar or fried plantain sit along side pumpkin vadas. Varan bhaat or toor dal and rice, resplendent with ghee, anchors the thali. Colleen, Keith, Mary Lou, Roy and Ryan join us to celebrate. It goes well. And by that I mean there are very few leftovers!