Have you had those days when you are distracted but you have people coming over for dinner and so obviously everything goes wrong? I have those often but once what was looking to be a disaster turned out to be delicious. Yep, I am talking about this recipe for Butternut Squash Vadai (Fritter) which was actually a kitchen mistake.
So the story starts on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I had friends coming for dinner and planned for it beautifully. Then, there was an almost accident with the garage door where it came crashing down narrowly missing my five-year-old daughter. We were in shock, fear and thankful nothing bad happened. And as with all those emotions, also comes my panicked voice which goes all high-pitched and shrieky.
When this was happening, I was actually in the process of grinding the Dal in the wet grinder. With all the shouting outside, I ran outside leaving it running. The result, when I came back after my blood pressure was sort of normal, the toor dal has been ground into a thick paste. And I was trying to grind it coarsely because that’s how we make the batter for Paruppu Vadai.
Now not only had I soaked the wrong dal (I had soaked Toor Dal instead of Channa Dal), I also ground it to a pulp. Now I did not have a choice nor the desire or the energy to make another appetizer (I had 3 kinds of chutney ready for this!). So I forged on, praying it would taste good. It was fantastic! No, really! Just amazingly tasty.
The guests went ga-ga over it and I had to stop my son from finishing them before they arrived. I mean literally had to keep it on top of the refrigerator.
Butternut Squash Vadai (Fritter)
After a swimmingly stunning success that night, I decided to experiment with it. I deliberately, this time soaked Toor Dal for three hours and ground it to a completely smooth consistency batter. Added tiny chopped shallots. Woo! It was a winner again.
So the next time I went further and added puréed Butternut Squash. The taste was perfect. Crunchy on the outside, spongy soft on the inside, with a hint of heat from the green chilies and a touch of sweetness from the squash. Heavenly!
I have made it many times since and it’s now one of my favorite recipes to WOW a crowd.
- The batter has to thick, thicker than idli batter. You should be able to scoop it on a spoon.
- The Butter Squash purée acts as the liquid instead of the water. So DO NOT add water at first. Look at the consistency and if needed sprinkle water as needed to make a thick batter.
- You don’t have to shape the fritter. Just drop a spoonful of batter into the hot oil and deep-fry it.
- I like serving it with tangy chutney like my Tomato Chutney or Cilantro Chutney.
- 200 grams Toor Dal Soak for 3 hours in 5 Cups of Water
- 100 grams Butternut Squash cut in cubes, steamed and puréed
- 3/4 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 3 Thai Green Chilies minced
- 500 ml Peanut Oil for frying
In an Indian grinder or Vitamix, grind together soaked and drained Toor Dal, Butternut Squash, Thai green chilies, and Salt. Sprinkle water as needed to grind a thick smooth batter.
Heat oil in a shallow heavy-bottomed pan (I use cast iron pans) to 350°F. (Another way to test if the oil is heated enough is to drop a pinch of batter into the oil. If the batter quickly rises to the top immediately, the oil is heated enough).
Start with dropping a tablespoon of batter into the oil and fry the vadai (fritter) till it crispy golden brown. Remove the vadai (fritter) from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Taste and adjust for salt as needed before you fry the rest of the batter.
Deep-fry the rest of the batter similarily in batches. I was able to fry up seven fritters at a time.
Serve with chutney of your choice.