It is challenging for every mother to meet the dietary requirements of highly active & energetic teens today. She needs to serve them 4 meals a day that satiates their hunger, nourish them adequately, and most importantly please their palate. Since it is almost near to impossible to prepare healthy hearty delicious meals four times a day, it is a good idea to prepare a dish that can be reused for the next meal. Now I have prepared yellow peas ragda (curry), served delicious cornflakes chaat as an evening snack, and serve the same ragda with chappathi or poori for dinner.
It is quite hard to find someone who finds samosa unappetizing. Samosa is a scrumptious tea-time snack with chewy flavorful filling enclosed by crispy thin layers of pastry. Typically samosa is prepared by deep frying pastry sheets stuffed with spicy vegetables or minced meat. Lately, I switch to baked vegetable samosa as deep fried ones have always been my guilt pleasures.
“Can you crunch murukku?” is one of the commonly asked questions when oldies meet each other during the festival of Deepavali. It is regarded as a blessing (or as a sign of good health) if one could relish crunchy murukku even at an old age. There is an old saying in Tamil “norunga thindral nooru vayathu vazhalam” (meaning crunching ensures longevity). It is considered healthy to take crunchy snacks for 3 reasons: It takes longer time to chew them, thus it makes us feel full (even with fewer calories), and hence greater satiety.
Dumplings are not only traditional but also universal, they are ubiquitous in almost every cultural cuisine in various forms be it boiled, baked, steamed or fried. Chinese dim sum, Italian ravioli, Nepalese yomari, Jamaican fried dumplings, Polish potato plum dumplings, British herb dumplings, American apple dumplings, etc. are some of the old-fashioned adorable dumplings that still delight the gourmets across the globe. Susiyam, Munthiri kothu & Bonda are the traditional dumplings prepared in my family for Deepavali festival.
It is a bizarre phenomenon that some of the vegetarians here, particularly elders, avoid taking the foods spiced with fennel seeds. They do not like to use them in their recipes as they feel these spices are meant to go with meat based recipes only. Nevertheless we all like its sweet flavor and I like to add it into spicy vegetable kurma & paruppu vadai (lentil patties) for the strong flavor. I like to relish hot masala vadai & creamy coconut chutney along with a cup of cardamom tea on a rainy day.
Vegetable bajji are nothing but the fritters available in every cuisine across the globe. Crispy fritters are commonly prepared using the batter made of corn starch & all purpose flour. But we, South Indians, prepare fluffy fritters by deep frying the slices of locally grown vegetables dipped into the Bengal gram (chickpea) batter. Nevertheless, people with sensitive stomach prefer to avoid taking these fritters as gram flour causes flatulence & indigestion. So I have added powdered ajwain (omam seeds) that are commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat stomach ache, indigestion, gastritis & flatulence. Besides, I have replaced baking soda with dosa batter that aids in digestion of gram flour and is useful to make the bajji fluffy. I have also added little ghee into the batter for the delicious aroma.
Thattai (meaning flat disc) are inexorably delicious crackers prepared in our family for Deepavali. It is so astonishing to find numerous varieties of thattai made all over India using various lentils, grains & spices, and hence it has varied flavour, texture or colour in every state, every district and also in every family. These crispy savory discs have been given different names in different regions viz., thattu vadai in Salem, thattai murukku in Tamilnadu, nippattu in Karnataka, chekkalu in Andhra Pradesh, papdi in North India.
Nei kadalai is one of my favorite childhood snacks that I relished along with wheat halwa. It brings me back fond memories associated with this delicious savory as our family get-togethers were incomplete without spicy crunchy flavorful nei kadalai and soft gelatinous wheat halwa. I still cherish all those happy moments with my father when he brought me nei kadalai and Tirunelveli halwa.
Panang kizhangu (Palmyra sprout) is popular among south Indians & Sri Lankans. We usually steam the palmyra sprouts, pound them when dried, and relish the pounded palmyra sprout as a savory snack. Sri Lankans boil these sprouts, dry them, make into a flour and use the flour to make sweet puttu, koozh or add into some non-veg curries as a thickening agent.
Medhu vadai or ulundha vadai is a gluten-free savoury doughnut prepared using black lentils (urad dal). Any feast or festival in South India is incomplete without serving soft vadai with crispy golden skin. Nevertheless medhu vadai is a commonly prepared evening snack in our family particularly during monsoon.
Vazhaipoo vadai or banana flower patties are gluten-free snacks prepared with banana flowers & yellow peas. These are delectable flavorsome patties with crispy skin and soft flesh. We can include banana flowers into our diet in the form of patties (vadai), stir-fry (poriyal), coconut curry (kootu), lentil crumble (paruppu usili), soup, or salad.
Vadai are the most popular lentil patties prepared during Deepavali in South India. We prepare aama vadai using Bengal gram and ulundha vadai using black gram. We soak the left-over vadai in thayir (yogurt) and relish them as thayir vadai the next day.