Pottu Minapappu Garelu / Whole Black Gram Fritters

 

Garelu, the black gram fritters have an important place in Andhra cuisine and they are a part of menu on festival days and death anniversaries. Pottu minapappu garelu ( whole black gram fritters / sabut urad dal vadas) used to be mandatory on festive days in my grandmothers' homes or for that matter in many Andhra homes until a generation ago. My mother still tries to cram in these fritters as much as possible when there is a special occasion though she uses skinned black gram now. I on the other hand try to stay away as much as possible from fried snacks even though I enjoy them and when I do fry, opt for quicker versions like bajji or pakoda. Kudos to those grandmothers who used to sit and grind the batter manually in stone grinders but I don't have that much patience even though  grinder and mixer are at my disposal.

I like the version made with whole black gram compared to the skinned variety because of the texture and the nostalgia attached to the dish, it reminds me of my grandmothers. However the whole black gram needs more soaking compared to the skinned variety and so these fritters need advance planning. They need a soaking of at least 8 hours. A wet grinder would be more suitable to grind the vada batter compared to a mixer / blender since only a little amount of water should be added while grinding. Vadas can not be shaped if the batter turns out runny.

We keep the batter recipe very basic, by grinding just black gram and salt. Ginger and black pepper can be added as well if desired. I prefer to serve it the way my grandmothers did, either with paramannam / payasam or a spicy chutney like ginger or sesame seeds chutney. I made them recently after ages on my husband's request and served them with vermicelli kheer. Warm and crispy vadas served with sweet, delicious kheer, a delicious combo. 

Ingredients:
1 cup whole black gram / sabut urad dal / pottu minapappu
Salt to taste 
2 cups oil to fry 
(Optional ingredients - ginger and black pepper)
Directions:
* Rinse black gram twice and soak it in sufficient water over night or at least for about 8 hours.
* Drain the water after soaking period and rinse the black gram a few times with water to get rid of the black gram skins as much as possible. (There is no need to rinse away all the skin of the beans. In fact, I prefer to retain most of it.)
* Grind the black gram adding salt into a thick, smooth batter adding a few tbsp. of water if needed, to facilitate grinding. Transfer the batter to a bowl and beat the batter with hand for few seconds.
* Heat oil in a kadai / frying pan. Drop a pinch of ground batter into the oil to check whether the oil is hot enough to fry. The oil is ready for frying if the batter immediately skims to the surface. If it stays at the bottom, heat the oil some more but there is no need to bring the oil to a smoking point.
* Wet your hands and pinch a small portion of batter. Place it on the wet palm of the non dominant hand and pat it into a thick disc. Poke a hole at the center using index finger, if preferred. 
* Gently drop it into the pan, from the sides. Add as many vadas as the pan can hold without crowding the pan.
* Fry them on low flame, flipping in between until they turn golden brown on both sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon, draining as much oil as possible and place them in a paper towel covered plate.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining batter and serve the garelu / vadas warm.

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