The falafel, if you choose to look at it from a distance, is the cheery sort, jazzing up the platter of appetizers in your party, perking up the vegetarian pita pocket for your ravenous little guests, pepping up many a gloomy mood in the thick of incessant downpours as you huddle the gang up indoors. Down home, our very own “dal vada,” (deep fried lentil balls, for the unapprised) sashays along the falafel line, merrily piggybacks on our hot and spicy chutney varieties, and sets off on a rollicking journey, arriving with nothing short of a drumroll reverberating in the background.
When you’re hosting your next party – consider this – the deliciously dilled Fatafat Tadka Roll. It’s exotic not in the way that the Amsterdam Maoz fare might sound, but in the sui generis way that something cooked with care, love and precision turns out. It’s normal, but not in the way that piling on a dagwood of pickles and salad vegetables seems, but in the way that your guests are made to feel at home with a table filled with simple, unostentatious delicacies, with the Fatafat Tadka Roll reigning supreme. When the downpour ceases, and your “gang” disbands, you’ll be left with empty bowls and plates, but the sounds of laughter and applause will surround you as you slog your way through the “after” clean-up.
Dilled Fatafat Vadas
(Makes about 15 small vadas)
1 Cup chana dal, soaked in warm water for 2 hours (Can be substituted with split peas)
1 Inch-long piece of ginger root
3-5 Green chillies
1 Small red onion
1 Cup chopped dill, or substitute cilantro/coriander leaves
2 Sprigs of curry leaves
Salt as per your preference
A pinch of asafoetida
Oil for deep frying
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a heavy pan or kadhai. Meanwhile, drain the chana dal, and grind it, along with the ginger and green chillies in a blender/mixie to a very thick, but coarse consistency, adding barely any water. This could require you to stop the machine, scrape the sides of the jar and run it again in bursts. Lots of chunky bits and a few pieces of dal left whole will give your vadas a superbly crunchy crust.
Once the dal is ground, thinly slice the onion and chop the herbs that you are using – dill or cilantro, and curry leaves. Blend everything into the dal mixture. Season with salt and a pinch of asafoetida. Use wet or oiled hands to make small, flat-ish patties of the batter and carefully slide each one into the hot oil. Fry a few at a time, turning occasionally, until they are a deep brown. Drain the excess oil on newspaper topped with a paper towel. Keep warm in a 200°F oven.
The Fatafat Tadka Roll
Cut a pocket pita bread in half, and warm it briefly in a microwave or on a hot griddle. Butter the insides if desired. Spread a condiment on both the sides that will help keep the roll together – we recommend Tadka’s Green chutney, Minty Green Pea Dip or Green Chutney Pesto. Tuck in 3-4 Fatafat Vadas and your choice of veggies – cucumber sticks, lettuce shreds, baby spinach, tomato chunks, grated carrots and slivers of raw mango all go well with the flavors of the roll.
Set up a self-serve buffet with all the fixings lined up to add an easy flair to your party table, or if you’re lucky to have made this on a no-rain day, pack up the rolls in a Tupperware container, add some chips, a cooler of drinks and take your picnic outdoors!
Our sandwich is being shared fatafat over at