For Masala Vadai
1 cup husked chana dal
2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
4 green chillies, finely chopped
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1/2 tsp salt to taste
2 cups oil
1 small lime sized ball of tamarind
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 medium sized tomato, finely chopped
1 tsp salt to taste
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vadagam
1/2 tsp mustard seeds + 1/2 tsp husked urad dal + 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds + 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
Ground to a smooth paste
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
2 tsp poppy seeds, powdered
2-3 tbsp water
To make Masala Vadai:
1. Wash dal, soak in water for 2 hours and drain. Grind dal coarsely, gradually adding 3-4 tbsp water. Add onions, green chillies, ginger and salt, mix well.
2. Heat oil in a deep frying pan to smoking point.
3. Wet your hands, take a ladle of batter and flatten it into a 1 inch round patty. Slip it gently into hot oil. Fry vadai in batches over moderate heat, turning frequently, till golden brown and crisp. Drain and place on kitchen paper to absord excell oil.
To make Kuzhambu
4. Soak tamarind in 2 cups water for 10 minutes. Extract juice and discard pulp.
5. Add 2 1/2 cups water to tamarind juice, with tumeric powder, coriander powder and chilli powder. Mix well and set aside.
6. Heat oil for tempering in a pan over moderate heat. Add vadagam or other ingredients for tempering and fry for about 30 seconds. When vadagam or mustard seeds splutter, add onion, garlic and curry leaves.
7. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously.
8. Blend into tomato and fry for about 1-2 minutes.
9. Add spiced tamarind juice and salt. Mix well and simmer over low heat for atleast 15-18 minutes, stirring occasionally, till the raw aroma of tamarind disappears.
10. Gently mix in coconut paste and simmer over low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, till well blended.
11. Add vadai, one at atime, and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Serve hot with rice.
Note: Vadagam is a tempering ingredient ground and compressed into sun-dried lime sized balls. It is available in most grocery stories selling south indian food items. It is commonly used by the mudaliar community of Tamil Nadu.