Souhetrn Flavours

“A good meal soothes the soul as it regenerates the body. From the abundance of it flows a benign benevolence.”
Frederick W. Hackwood

Southern Flavours, Curd rice It was the cover of the book the minute I unpacked the couriered parcel that took my breath away! Southern Flavours – The Best of South Indian Cuisine sent to me for review from Blogadda, the largest community of bloggers in India. Rich, vibrant, full of culture & authentic recipes, a book that would definitely catch my eye in the book shop! Medhu VadaiI have a special connect with South India where I spent 5 years of my childhood. While in school in Bangalore, most kids would carry neat round steel boxes with curd, lime or tamarind rice with that sinfully delicious looking bright red pickle floating in oil on top, the contrast between white rice and red pickle completely fascinating. Others would carry steel ‘tiffin‘ boxes {no tupperware etc} filled with pillowy soft freshly made idlis {steamed rice cakes} with the magical ‘gun powder’ crowning it!Curd Rice and Medhu VadaiThose years gave me a strong connect with South Indian cuisine, which for North Indians seemed out of reach 25 years ago. When we got back to New Delhi, I remember piling into the car every fortnight {with the dals and rice soaked and drained}, with my mother driving  several miles to get the mixture ground. Specialised grinders were hard to find. Then the overnight wait for fermentation to take place; then the next morning the precious coconut was dehusked and ground into chutney. The reward – light as air idlis and crisp buttery dosas!Southern Flavours My taste buds still tingle at the very thought of that vibrant food, so this wonderful book was really welcome. I was tearing through it  and hit the kitchen pretty soon. Mine being a well stocked North Indian kitchen, I was pretty short on fresh ingredients like coconut and tamarind {my last batch from a sweet reader of PAB has been used up}. To make up, I had a leafy curry leaves tree in my backyard, and loads of ginger, green coriander and fresh chilies on hand!Southern Flavours, Curd rice My first stop had to be curd rice as I do make some once in a while. I was really embarrassed on reading the recipe in Southern Flavours  as my earlier curd rice attempts fell short on every level. Was soon stirring a big bowl of this delicious authentic tempered ‘tiffin’ favourite from Down South. The bowl was scraped clean … mmmm! It was full of flavour, healthy and comforting!Medhu Vadai The next stop was going to be snacky, something for the kids who love lentil patties or medhu vadas {recipe follows}. These are like an Indian version of savoury doughnuts, but made with a lentil batter as opposed to plain flour. Healthier {though deep fried}, crisp and fabulous in winter! I didn’t get to the chutneys {dipping sauce} and the family enjoyed them crisp out of the oil!Medhu Vadai I had trouble getting them into dough-nut shapes the first time around {tough is the word}, and on my second batch 2 days later, I had marginal success. I think it’s an art I yet have to master, but they are taste great in any shape! I now have tamarind soaking for a chutney, ingredients on hand for tamarind rice, lime rice, rasam {like a clear hot spicy soup} … and so much more!Southern Flavours, Curd Rice and Medhu VadaiThis is a sneak into a book packed with authentic and old recipes from Chandra Padmanathan, who adds a little trivia to most recipes, which is what makes the book all the more interesting. You get transported to another era, sometimes a wedding, sometimes childhood, sometimes sweet potato season … a culinary connect on every page!

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[print_this]Recipe: Medhu Vadai / Lentil Patties
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Summary: A popular snack, normally served with idli for breakfast, and at all auspicious occasions. It can also be served as a teatime or cocktail snack

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 1 cup husked, split gram dal {urad dal dhuli}
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 4 green chilles {I used 2}
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder {hing}
  • 1/2″ piece ginger, peeld and grated
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1tsp salt or to taste
  • Oil for deep frying


  1. Wash dal. Drain and soak in 2 cups water for 2 hours.
  2. Drain completely. Add rice, green chillies, asafoetida powder and ginger. Grind to make a smooth batter, gradually adding 1-2 tbsp water.
  3. Add coriander leaves, curry leaves and salt. Mix well.
  4. Heat oil in a deep frying pa to smoking point. Lower heat to moderate. Wet your hands and flatted a ladle of batter into a 2″ round patty. Make a hole in the centre and gently slip into hot oil . {Beware of trying this if you are not used to deep frying. Please exercise great caution when working with hot oil. I make small balls of vadas by dropping the batter gently into the oil with a teaspoon.}
  5. Fry vadai in batches, turning frequently, till golden brown and crisp.
  6. Drain and place on kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.
  7. Serve hot with any chutney.


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