Karavadai: Rice lentils fritters, Nostalgic Memories of Thiruvanthapuram

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Karavadai/Karavada is snack you can find only in Thiruvanthapuram/Trivandrum City, Kerala India. When we are young we will ask appa why Trivandrum became the capital of Kerala, even though Cochin is more developed and commercial city. His answer was that since Pappanabhan is lying here, it becomes capital, means because of Sri Padmanabha swami temple situated here. When my dad was young, everybody would say that you need to study well so what that you can earn Pappanabhan nte chakram. Pappanabhan nte chakram meant the currency of the Travancore state with the bills having that symbol.  

I was born and brought up in that city, and I have lot of fond memories of it. Nowadays I mostly miss my mom and tasty food which I used to get from there. So I tried to recreate the food from my memories as much as possible. Until my dad’s retirement we stayed in housing provided by his work. After that we started living in Agraharamliteral meaning a garland of houses. It originates from the fact that the agraharams have lines of houses on either side of the road and the temple to the village God at the centre, thus resembling a garland around the temple, closely related to   modern day condos. Every evening at around 3 PM, there were people who made makes snacks like parippu vadai,  Uzhunthu vadai bhaji, and carry them around and sell it house by house. Usual conversion will be going on like this,
Seller: Mami  evathauthum venama? Chooda attathil potathu (Means Aunty do you want anything? These are freshly made at home today. )
Mom: Thambi unkittae enna ellam irruku?  (Brother what do you have?)
Seller:  Enkittae parippu vadai,  Uzhunthu vadai bhaji,Kara vadai irrku? Enna venam Mami? Ellam ediukkatama, ( I have parippu vadai, uzhunnu vadai, bhaji and kara vadai, what you want aunty? Can I take a few from all of them? )
Mom would then ask us “what do you guys want?” We will always go for parippu vadai,  , amma will go for kara vadai , Uzhunthu vadai and bhaji, most favorite of my mom is karavadai and then Uzhunthu vadai
Finally the guy will sell us about 5 of each and he will be happy because of the business he got and we will be happy as we have a few goodies for our Coffee time snack. Amma used to makes very tasty filter coffee and we would all enjoy these treats.
Sometime back I saw this You Tube video of a local cookery channel’s travelogue where they showed the making of karavadai in a Tamil Brahmin household.

 I wanted to make it, but then I didn’t get time for it.  Last month when my friend Suja of Kitchen Corner Try It made it for a guest post it rekindled my Karavadai tasting memories. However, in her recipe she used pearl onions and chana dal powder, but the one which I tasted doesn’t have onions and chana dal powder, but it has soaked chana dal. I clarified the addition of onions in karavadai with my dad too. So I made karavadai according to the YouTube video recipe. Only thing I didn’t have in hand is doppi rice so used par boiled rice.
While goggling I found this interesting article about a restaurant in Trivandrum which specializes in selling and making Karavadai.  Nowadays he is selling one Karavadai for Rs 6 -7, (11to 13 cents) apiece.
Grinding par boiled rice is little tricky as it is requires water but if you add more water end product will become more watery and you can’t make karavadai . But less water means you are going to spoil the blender, I burnt my finger like that. I want to make murruku, since recipe says add water little by little. Yes I did finally and my blender told me enough is enough and I am going to stop working for you. It kept his word and stopped. 
 Grab following ingredients.

Soak the par boiled rice for about 45 minutes then grind into coarse paste with enough water and mix in old dosa batter, soaked chana dal, chopped ginger, green chili, red chili powder, salt, asafetodia and curry leaves. If you batter is not perfect, add a teaspoon of rice powder so that you will be about make medium  ball of dough out of it, fry in medium hot oil until it become golden brown and crispy.

  You can make big balls too, however I gone for medium size. It is crispy on outside and soft on inside. Try to enjoy with sambharor coconut chutney. If didn’t have time to make chutney or sambhar you can try with our Hunts ketchup. 
                                                           Print Recipe from here
Karavada/ Rice and lentil fritters
Adapted from this recipe
  Prep Time  20 minutes + 40 minutes of soaking time
Cook Time    45 minutes
Serves    25 medium sized balls.

1 1/4 Cup /250g Parboiled Rice( If you have Doppi rice in hand  use it)
1/4 Cup/47g chana dal/split chickpeas soaked for 40 minutes
1/2 cup one day old dosa batter
1 Green chili
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon  red chili powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rice powder
1 3/4 cup  water
1/8 teaspoon of Asafeotida ( Skip this if you want gluten free option)
1/8 teaspoon of Baking soda ( optional, I didn’t used it)
2 sprig Curry leaves chopped
4 Cups Canola Oil
How I made:
     Soak rice and chana dal for 40 minutes. Wash and drain the rice and chana dal in a colander and set aside.
  Grind soaked rice in a grinder using 1 ¾ cup of water add water gradually as needed. Make sure to grind into a coarse paste.  
In a medium bowl, to the ground batter mix in, ginger, green chili, salt, red chili, dosa batter and asafetida, soaked chana dal and curry leaves. Set aside. If the batter is not thick add rice powder and make it into thick batter so that you can make balls out of it.
In thick bottom pan heat oil to 350 F, add a drop of batter to check oil is ready, if it is ready, dough will comes up immediately. Then add medium sized balls and fry for about 6-7 minutes or until they become golden brown color, flipping in between.
  Using a slotted spoon, remove the fried fritters from oil and transfer to kitchen towel to remove
              excess oil.
  Enjoy warm with coconut chutney and Sambhar.
                Use doppi rice for making it traditional.

I am linking this Hearth and Soul Blog hop 135: 1/22/2013 hosted here
Favorite Recipes; Beans/lentils/Legumes event hosted here.

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  1. says

    O Swati such a lovely write up. I read it and almost forgot all abt the recipe that followed;). To bad I cannot eat some of teh delicious vada you have dished up.

  2. says

    Those vadas look so crispy and mouth watering. I loved your back story Swathi. It’s funny how some of the food or even the smell takes you back the memory lane

  3. says

    Loved this post. Can totally relate to the whole thing. I have not tried this one before, will bookmark and make them the next time I have some left over dose batter. I am curious to taste this one for sure.

  4. says

    Looks so good. A different one altogether. Except for the dosa batter it is like thavalavada ? Like the write-up before the recipe too!