Neikadalai 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 neikadalai and soft gelatinous wheat halwa. I still cherish all those happy moments with my father when he brought me neikadalai and Tirunelveli halwa.
Cooking time: 20 min
Yields: 1½ cup (approx 300 g)
- Split chickpeas (split Bengal gram or kadalai paruppu) – 1 cup (200 g)
- Garlic – 10 pods (or 1 bulb)
- Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
- Red chilli powder – 1/8 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Groundnut oil, I used about 400 ml for deep frying
- Wash & soak chickpeas for 2 hours; soaked lentils get doubled in quantity (ie. 2 cups).
- Drain water completely and spread on a towel till water is completely absorbed (about 30-45 min).
- Wash curry leaves and keep aside on a towel to absorb water.
- Heat a deep frying pan with oil in high flame.
- When oil reaches the temperature of 200 deg C (just before its boiling point), reduce the flame to medium.
- Ideally you can deep fry these lentils between 160 & 190 deg C.
- Place 1/3 cup of lentils onto a wire skimmer and immerse into hot oil.
- Leave them until sizzling sound begins to settle.
- Remove skimmer from oil when lentils are in yellow color (even before turning golden).
- Place fried chickpeas on a tissue towel to absorb excess oil.
- Repeat the same for next batch of chickpeas (totally 6 batches- 6 times 1/3 cup gives 2 cups).
- It took 2 to 3 minutes for frying, depending upon the temperature.
- Add red chilli powder and salt to the hot lentils.
- Finally you can fry curry leaves & crushed garlic (as shown in the picture) for garnishing.
- Store fried chickpeas in an air-tight container when they reach room temperature.
- Serve delicious nei kadalai along with hot tea or coffee in the evening.
Tips & Tweaks:
- It is important to remove chickpeas from oil before they turn golden as they get cooked even after removing from oil; otherwise they become hard to bite.
- I used cold-pressed groundnut oil; alternatively you can use coconut oil or any neutral oil.
- Frying chickpeas inside wired skimmer helps to fry them uniformly and also helps to gather them easily.
- I have added garlic generously, if you want you can reduce or leave garlic.
- I have crushed garlic pods along with their skin to enhance its flavor.
- You can also fry minced ginger along with crushed garlic.
- You may add pepper powder instead of red chilli powder.
- You can add 1/4 tsp of hot ghee (clarified butter) and mix well before serving to enhance the flavor & taste.