Vadai with Sambal

I have been enjoying writing on my other blog, Perspectives Quilt, this month reminiscing about past travels. I have also just opened up a Pinterest and Instagram account, both of which I had been avoiding not only because I was busy but also because I am not a good photographer. However, since opening both accounts last week, I have found that I pay a little more attention to whatever photos I do take. I know I haven’t been doing justice, with my photos, to the delicious food that my mother has made though I have been diligently recording and sharing her recipes through this blog. I have resolved to try and work on my food photography skills a little, where possible.

So, when my mother made some vadai for tea this evening, I decided that it would be a good time to start experimenting with natural light and angles. Nothing major. Just a series of photos turning my little bowl, with my teatime snack, around. This is the photo I ended up satisfied with, after dozens of photos, which I then applied an instagram filter on.

Vadai 01.JPG

Vadai with Sambal

What do you think? Does this photo make you want to have some vadai now?

Well, whether it makes you want to try some right now or not, please do try out my mother’s famous (among family and friends) recipe for homemade vadai with sambal. They are delicious and lovely to share at Iftar parties as well!

I am bringing this over to Fiesta Friday #124, initiated by Angie and co-hosted this week by Lindy@Love in the Kitchen and Liz@Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Vadai with Sambal

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: advanced
  • Print


  • Urad dal/ black gram – 1 cup, skin removed
  • Green chillies – 2, chopped
  • Onion – 1, medium sized and chopped
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp, chopped
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Low fat oil (sunflower or canola) – ½ litre (for deep frying) + 1 tsp (for sauté)
  • Salt, to taste


  • Freshly scraped coconut – ½ cup
  • Red or Green chillies – 2, chopped
  • Onion – ¼, chopped
  • Ginger – ½ “ (optional)
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig, chopped
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Soak the black gram, without the skin, for 3 – 4 hours.
  2. Grind the soaked black gram, adding a little water, to prepare the thick vadai batter.
  3. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and lightly sauté the chopped onion, chillies and curry leaves.
  4. Transfer the contents of the pan and the coriander leaves to the batter mix and add salt to taste. If you prefer, you can also add 1 tsp baking powder.
  5. Mix well and keep aside for 5 mins.
  6.  Heat the oil in the pan for deep-frying.
  7. Take a piece of banana leaf or something equivalent, dab some water on the surface and put a spoonful of batter onto the leaf. Shape it into a round or elliptical shape with a hole in the middle, like a mini doughnut.
  8. Transfer to the oil pan, 3 to 4 at a time, and fry until golden brown on both sides.
  9. Mix and grind all ingredients for the sambal and add salt, to taste.
  10. Serve the vadai with sambal and some Sri Lankan tea.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Winged Bean and Dhal Curry

For this month, I am sharing a simple and delicious curry together with some 70s – 90s music from Sweden. DSC01073The following music clips takes me back to the early 90s when I listened quite a lot to these three Swedish music groups. How could I not start the music feature on music from Sweden without a song from ABBA? Actually, I was never a fan of their music but I listened to a lot of their music back then because some of my friends were huge fans and kept playing them a lot that some of the songs kind of seeped into my song lists. This very popular song is one such. There was a time in the early 90s when MTV played a huge part in introducing me to a lot of popular music. The next two song clips are from that time. The second song is ‘Don’t turn around’ by Ace of Base. The final song for this month is Roxette’s ‘It must have been love’.
Hope you enjoy trying out the curry and that you enjoyed going on a nostalgic trip back to the 90s!

Winged Bean and Dhal Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • Winged beans – ¼ cup
  • Mysore dhal – ½ cup
  • Green chillies – 2
  • Onion – ½
  • Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – a sprig
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Pepper – ½ or 1 tsp
  • Crushed chillies – ¼ tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
  • Coconut or non-fat milk – 2 or 3 tbsp (optional)


  1. Wash and chop the winged beans, green chillies and onion.
  2. Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and fry the fennel seeds. Add the chopped onion, chillies and curry leaves and continue frying for 2 – 3 mins.
  3. Add the chopped winged beans to the pan and stir.
  4. Wash the dhal and add the dhal to the pan together with a cup of water and ½ tsp turmeric powder. Cook for 15 mins
  5. Add the pepper, salt and crushed chillies towards the end of the cooking. Stir well
  6. While the curry is good as it is, if you like to add milk, you can add 2-3 tbsp coconut or non-fat milk and cook for a few mins more.
  7. Remove from heat and serve warm with rice.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Mothaha Muffin Crumble

I have been trying out different muffins over the last few months and I was in the mood of trying out some experimental muffins. I wanted to create some muffins which had a strong leaning towards a Sri Lankan dish. While thinking about using different local non-wheat flours, inspiration struck. I do very much like the delicacy – mothaham or kolukkattai, that my mother makes during special festivals like the ongoing Navarathri festival. I decided to try out the muffin version of this steamed dish and it turned out a cross between a muffin and a crumble. I am sharing it at both my brother’s birthday today as well as bringing some over to Fiesta Friday tomorrow.
The music selection for today focuses on some lovely Persian music. The first group featured here is the Chemirani Zarb Trio, a classical percussion group. I first heard their music when they visited Sri Lanka to perform at the WOMAD concert 2005. The clip I share here is one of their performances at another WOMAD concert.

While searching for Chemirani Trio clips on youTube, I came across a few other Persian groups that I liked. The second clip is a music video by the folk group Zâr Ensemble, formerly known as the Ensemble Shanbehzadeh.

The last clip is a beautiful one by classical singer Homayoun Shajarian and instrumentalist and composer, Tahmoures Pournazeri.

Hope you enjoyed the lovely music as much as I did! As usual, please do share which clip you liked more.

Mothaha Muffin Crumble

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Roasted red rice flour – 1/2 cup
  • All-purpose flour – 1/2 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt, pinch
  • Green gram, de-skinned – 1/2 cup, boiled
  • Jaggery – 1/4 cup, chopped
  • Coconut – 1/4 cup, freshly scraped
  • Cardamom – 1/4 tsp
  • Margarine – 120g, melted
  • Oil, as required


  1. Melt the margarine and let it cool slightly.
  2. Mix the freshly scraped coconut, green gram, jaggery and cardamom in a bowl.
  3. Add the coconut and gram mix to the melted margarine. Stir to mix the contents a little.
  4. Sift the rice flour and all purpose flour together. Add the baking powder and salt and mix.
  5. Add the flour mix to the wet ingredient mix. If the resulting mix is too dry, just add a little oil until it is sufficiently moist.
  6. Bake the muffins for about 25 – 30 mins at 180C.
  7. Serve warm with a hot beverage.

Sambhar Rice

The rice dish for today is Sambhar Rice.

Sambhar RiceAs sambhar refers to a mixed vegetable stew like dish, I thought of mimicking the dish in my featured music groups today.

Starting with Thriloka, a fusion band formed in 2005 blending traditional Sri Lankan folk music and progressive rock.

The second clip features Paranoid Earthling, whose music is a blend of experimental and psychedelic rock. The song shared here was first performed by them on the international peace day in 2008.

The last clip features Chitral Somapala and Civilization One, a power metal band, which is not a Sri Lankan band but I decided to feature them by extending the definition to include the Sri Lankan who launched the band.

Enjoy the Sri Lankan rock music scene as you try out the recipe!

Sambhar Rice

Time taken: 45 mins

Serves 4

Sambhar rice2


  • Par-boiled red rice – 1 cup
  • Carrots – ½ cup, chopped
  • Beans – ½ cup, chopped
  • Brinjal – ½ cup, chopped
  • Mysore dhal – ¼ cup
  • Onion – ½, chopped
  • Chilli – 1, chopped
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Tamarind juice – ½ cup
  • Curry powder – 1 tsp
  • Pepper – ½ tsp
  • Garlic cloves – 4 or 5, crushed
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Boil the rice and keep aside.
  2. Separately, cook the vegetables (carrots, beans and brinjal) and dhal together with the chopped onion, chilli and curry leaves in a cup of water.
  3. When the water dries up, add the tamarind juice add the curry powder, pepper powder, crushed garlic cloves and salt to the vegetables.
  4. Once the sambhar starts to thicken, add the rice, mix well and let it simmer for 5 to 10 mins.
  5. Serve the sambhar rice with pappadum.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Mung Kavum

Mung Kavum is another New Year delicacy. I find it similar to payatham paniyaram, a north Sri Lankan festival snack that is usually prepared at my home. The difference is that in the north, it is made a little more spicy by the addition of cumin and pepper.

Mung KavumAs I am writing this, I am listening to a new song of Bathiya & Santhush, a popular Sri Lankan band. Sharing it with you as well.

Mung Kavum

Time taken: 1 hour

Makes 25 – 30

Mung KavumIngredients:

  • Rice flour – 500g + 250g
  • Green gram flour – 1 Kg
  • Pol pani/ Coconut treacle – 3 cups (~700ml)
  • Margarine – 3 tsp
  • Cardamom powder – 1 or 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, for deep-frying


  1. Warm up the pol pani. Remove from heat.
  2. Add 500g rice flour, green gram flour, cardamom powder and margarine to the warmed up pol pani.
  3. Mix together to form a dough and roll it out. Cut into diamond shapes and keep aside.
  4. Prepare the batter by gradually adding water to 250g rice flour mixed with ½ tsp of turmeric powder and a pinch of salt.
  5. Heat the oil in a pan.
  6. Dip the diamond shapes in the batter to coat it on all sides and then deep-fry.

Recipe source: Lalitha Senadheera.

Chickpea Fritters

Xīnnián Kuàilè!

Angie (The Novice Gardener) has started her blog event ‘Fiesta Friday‘ auspiciously on the Chinese New Year. So, Wishing you all a happy Lunar New Year and a wonderful party at Angie’s fiesta!

A Taste of Sri Lankan Cuisine’s contribution to the event is this snack recipe of my mother’s – chickpea fritters, which is a very popular snack both in Sri Lanka and India.

Chickpea fritters

Time taken: 30 mins + 3 hours (soaking time)

Serves 8


  • Split chickpea/ kadalai paruppu – ½ cup
  • Chickpea flour – ½ cup
  • Wheat flour – ¼ cup (optional)
  • Onion – 1, chopped
  • Turmeric – ¼ tsp
  • Crushed chillies – 1 to 2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Carom/ Omam seeds – ½ tsp
  • Salt
  • Low fat oil, for deep-frying


  1. Soak the chickpea for about 3 hours.
  2. Then, coarsely grind it, i.e. do not grind it to a puree or flour but rather half-grind it so that there are smaller bits of chickpea. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and make the fritter dough.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan until it sizzles.
  5. Pinch off a little dough at a time and drop it in the pan. Fry till the fritters are golden brown.
  6. Serve with tea.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.


Today’s guest blogger is Krishanthy Kamalraj. An agriculture graduate and a former staff member of UNDP Sri Lanka’s Transition Recovery Programme, Krishanthy sent me a couple of recipes this week. As one of the recipes is for Pongal, I am happy to share her murukku recipe today. 

Kadalaima Murukku- Channa Dhal flour murukku

This snack has a prominent place in all Tamil celebrations. There are several types of murukku available and they differ based on ingredients. Today I have chosen Channa Dhal flour and Atta flour murukku.

Time taken: 1 hour

Serves 10 to 15 persons


  • 1 cup roasted channa dhal flour
  • ½ cup steamed wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2-4 dried red chili
  • 1 teaspoon of Omam (Carom seeds/ Ajwain) powder
  • 2 teaspoon margarine or olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt as needed
  • Oil to fry
  • Murukku ural/ mould


  1. Soak the Omam powder in 1/8 cup of water for 30 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, take 1 cup of roasted Channa Dhal flour and ½ of steamed Atta flour and add together.
  3. Take cumin and dry chili and grind it well until it becomes a fine powder. Add this to the flour mixture in the bowl and mix well.
  4. Filter the Omam water and gradually add to flour mixture.
  5. Then add salt and margarine to the flour mixture.
  6. Gradually add water to the mixture and make very soft, non sticky dough (same as the consistency level for string hopper dough)

murukku dough2

murukku in the mould

7. Insert clove shape disc into bottom of murukku ural and add small portion of dough into the murukku ural and press softly to make coil shaped murukku. Note: If the dough is not soft enough (due to not enough water), it will feel hard to press the ural. Add little bit of water and make the dough soft. This will result in very soft murukku.

squeezing the murukku

murukku dough

8. In a pan take required amount of oil and heat it over medium heat.
9. Once the oil is hot enough, transfer the pressed murukku into the oil.

frying murukku10. Once the murukku is cooked well on both side and has turned light golden brown in colour, take it out from the pan and drain the grease using paper towel.


11. Keep them in an air tight container and serve whenever you feel like eating crispy, spicy snack.

Recipe source: Krishanthy Kamalraj.

Steamed rice cakes

Wishing everyone a happy New Year! To start the Year on a sweet note, today’s recipe is that of steamed rice cakes.

Steamed rice cake

Time taken: 30 mins + 2 hours (for soaking)

Makes 6 cakes

Steamed rice cakeIngredients:

  • Rice – ½ cup
  • Urad dhal/ black gram flour – 2 tbsp, roasted
  • Coconut – 2 tbsp, freshly scraped
  • Sugar – 1 ½ tbsp
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt – pinch
  • Food colouring/ essence – optional


  1. Soak the rice in water for about 2 hours and then grind it to make a batter.
  2. Add the roasted urad dhal flour, scraped coconut, sugar, baking powder and salt to the batter. Mix well.
  3. If you would like your steamed cakes in different colours, divide the batter into separate bowls. Add the different food colours to each of the bowl. Here, my mother used green and red.
  4. Steam the batter for about 10 – 15 mins.
  5. Serve warm with tea. You could serve some honey or jam on the side, should you like it more sweeter.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Dhal with Snake gourd

Today’s recipe is another snake gourd curry that my mother occasionally makes.

Dhal with Snake gourd

Time taken: 30 mins

Serves 4

Dhal with Snake gourdIngredients:

  • Mysore dhal – ½ cup
  • Pudalangai/ Snake gourd – ½ cup, chopped
  • Green chillies – 2
  • Onion – ½
  • Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Rampe leaf/ pandan – 1 or 2 inch
  • Coconut milk – ¼ cup (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Crushed chillies – 1 tsp
  • Pepper – ½ tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Low fat oil – 2 tbsp


  1. Clean the snake gourd and finely chop it.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the chopped onion, green chillies, fennel seeds for a minute before adding the finely chopped snake gourd, curry leaves and rampe leaf. Cook for about 5 mins over low heat.
  3. Rinse the dhal and add the dhal to the pan. Stir and add a cup of water and let the dhal and snake gourd cook.
  4. Once the water has almost dried up and the vegetables have been cooked, add coconut milk. If you do not wish to use coconut milk due to cholesterol issues, simply add a ¼ cup of water or any alternative non-dairy milk of preference instead.
  5. Add the turmeric powder, crushed chillies, pepper and salt to taste to the pan. Mix well and cook for about 5 mins.
  6. Serve warm with rice.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Butternut squash and Dhal curry

Today’s recipe is that of one of my mother’s curries.

Butternut squash and Dhal Curry

Time taken: 40 mins

Serves 4 to 5

Butternut squash and dhal curryIngredients:

  • Butternut squash – ½ cup
  • Mysore dhal – ¼ cup
  • Tomato – 1
  • Onion – ½
  • Capsicum – 1
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Pepper powder – ½ tsp
  • Chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Low fat oil – 2 tbsp


  1. Boil the mysore dhal and chopped butternut squash, adding one cup of water to a saucepan, over medium heat. Cook till the water dries up.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and fry the chopped onion and capsicum, adding the cumin powder, pepper, chilli powder and curry leaves.
  3. After a couple of mins, add the chopped tomato to the pan and ¼ cup of water.
  4. Transfer the cooked dhal and butternut squash to the pan and season with salt and turmeric powder. Cook for about 5 to 10 mins.
  5. Serve the butternut squash and dhal curry with rice or roti.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.