After running around the entire day collecting my documents and tickets and making it to the airport (just on time) I was finally breathing. I was traveling to Chennai almost after two decades. The last time I had visited, it was with my parents in 1991. Then I was a school going girl. Chennai was not Chennai ..... it was called Madras.As I finally settled down and was sipping the piping hot Kafi (Coffee) that the air hostess served, I remembered the good old days when I had travelled with my parents ...... the memories were still fresh in my mind. The paper masala dosa at 'Das Prakash' , the tender coconut water at Marina Beach, shopping at T Nagar and Pary's Corner. I had just finished my Kafi when the air hostess announced that we were landing in Chennai Airport. I collected my luggage and walked up the pre paid taxi counter 'Akbar Travels', as recommended by my neighbor uncle in Bangalore. "Courtyard Marriot" I said as I handed two hundred rupee notes at the counter.
A dark skinny guy with a bushy mustache asked me to follow him to the taxi stand. He pointed towards an 'Ambassador' as he hurried towards it. I had not travelled in an Ambassador for ages now ...... I thought only the politicians travel by it in this era. 'Thud' ..... he closed the door.
Posters of Rajnikanth adored the interiors of the car. The Chennai Traffic was equally bad as Bangalore's.
To strike a conversation with the taxi driver I began 'Anna, looks like you are a big fan of Rajnikanth'.In the mirror I could see the grin on his face nodding in affirmation to my question, as if it was some kind of recognition for him.
Yah I know he is the most famous of all South Indian Hero's, I said trying to show how up to date I was on the Tamil film Industry. Bang came his reply ' Naaaat Hero Madam ...... he is Suuuuper Hero'. I nodded and preferred to maintain my silence. The next word I had with him was 'Thank you' when I tipped this guy on reaching The Marriot.
"Complementary Breakfast ", the lady told me handing over my room keys. I could not wait to throw myself in the bed after this long tiring day. I woke up only the next day morning when the room service called me to remind me of their complementary Breakfast. I gathered all my documents and laptop and walked to the cafe for breakfast. Gossh, the breakfast tables had everything from Continental to South Indian. I thought sticking to the South Indian menu was a better option ...... I could not think of any place better than Chennai to try the South Indian snacks. I filled my plates with little bit of everything and walked back to the breakfast nook. But the one thing that I fell in love with was the 'Vada'. It was crunchy from out side ans soft inside. Seeing my love for south indian food, the Chef walked up to me. I chatted with him as I sipped the filtered coffee.The chef was generous to share his secret recipe.
I was able to finish my work by afternoon and had little time to catch up with some friends in the evening. For an shopaholic like me, it would be a crime not to go to T Nagar ..... I shopped till dead and rushed back to the airport for my return flight.
Till date I religiously follow the tips given by the Chef of Marriot when it comes to Vada. I had been working hard on getting the perfect shape ...... earlier they looked nothing close to a Vada ( they used to be in all kind of shapes ----- Amoeba/ Paramecium. The first time I tried doing it at my in-laws place, my mother in law almost fainted seeing the shapes of my Vada) !! But with practise I am in much better shape !
And I would recommend Vada with Filter Kaafi. I can vouch for it.
Preparation Time 30 minutes
Split Urad Daal - 1 cup
Semolina - 1 tsp
Baking Powder - 1 pinch
Finely Chopped Onion - 1/4 cup
Chopped Green Chili - 1 tsp
Chopped Curry Leaves - 1 tsp
Whole Black Pepper - few
Salt per taste
Method of Preparation
1 Soak the daal for couple of hours. Dry grind it ( only sprinkle a little water if needed).
2 Remove the Urad daal paste to another vessel and beat it using your hand to make it a little fluffy.
3 Add all the remaining Ingredients to it and mix well.
4 Heat oil in a kadhai.
5 Make flat dumplings with your hand and drop into the oil. Fry till golden brown on both sides.
6 Remove to a paper towel.
Serve warm with coffee/ tea.
Do not make the Urad Daal batter runny. To adjust the consistency, you may add more semolina.
You may also use whole Urad Daal.
Add salt only towards the end before frying it.