Dahi Vada

Worldwide culturally, reverence is paid to the ancestors in form of different rituals- wherein food is offered to them, believing that any given time they cross over to the land and the food reaches them. As per the Hindu calendar, during the bhadrapada month, in the 15-day lunar period, offerings are made to the pitru (deceased ancestors) to pay our homage to them. Belonging to the Baniya clan (business community), our ancestors migrated to different lands for trade purpose. Hailing from Rajasthan, the signature dish of the area, Dahi Vada was part of their festive cuisine and favorite among all. It’s made of soft, spongy fried balls of Moong daal that are garnished with curd and sweet chutney. Thus during the ritual of offering food to the Brahmins, this dish was part of the meal.

Ever since childhood, I have seen my Mother make these during the Sharaadh period. She would soak the Daal overnight; in the morning make a fine paste with a smooth consistency, so that the barter easily slip off the spoon without lumps into a Kadhai with heated oil (with the right temperature known to her hands, as she checked with her palm above the oil). Once they turned golden, she would then remove them from the oil and put into a container filled with water, to make them supple and tender. She let them in until the time of serving. The precision was not limited to the shape and taste of the Vada, the curd was then beaten into a semi-thick pour, followed by a previously prepared and cooled sweet Khajur (Dates) chutney for topping along with homemade Chaat Masala of freshly roasted cumin, red chili powder and black salt. The dish would have the same taste and appeal ever since. Every year, during this period she would make them not just for the Brahmins who were invited to eat the Prasad (food) cooked for the ancestors but also for the whole extended family that reached to almost a 50. The members would look forward to this time of the year to indulge into the delicacy, which travelled from mouth to stomach and reached the soul. It would graciously take 3 hours for preparation, but she had no qualms about it, for as nurturer the satiated smile of the family filled her heart with love and peace, as though signaling that our ancestors too felt the same.

Having seen her do it since a decade, I too try my hands at it but every bite says,” A little change here and a little there is yet needed.”

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