Kapi Falhaar#2 ~ Chattambade | Masala Vade (Mangalorean Style Spicy Bengal Gram Fritters)

Most of the tea time snacks in Mangalore are deep fried ones, available twice a day - in the mornings, mostly as a mid morning snack and in the evening at tea time. Most of these are deep fried ones and I've had many fond memories of enjoying some freshly made, piping hot snacks at small hotels outside my college or around town. In those days when people shopped around on the busy streets of Hampankatta, Mangalore's popular shopping area, it was customary for them to take a break and have a cuppa accompanied by some traditional snacks. Today's snack is one of those wonderful snacks that I had as a child along with others - I won't name all of them as I hope to try each and everyone of them in this series. 

In the local languages of Mangalore, 'ambade' means fritters - anything that is deep fried. We prepare various ones with different kinds of fillings and they are usually round, made with ground batter or simply a filling with a coating of gram flour. Today's snack is a word that is two terms joined together. Chatte (flattened) + ambade (round fritter)  = chattambade. These are discs made out of coarsely ground bengal gram and other spices and deep fried till golden brown. A few whole lentils reserved before grinding the gram and later added to the mixture add to the charm of these discs. 

Chattambade tastes best with some spicy coconut chutney - all washed down by a cup of piping hot filter coffee!

Most hotels (small eateries) in Mangalore serve these snacks while my most favourite hangouts used to be the Taj Mahal cafe on Temple Road/Car Street and the Mohini Vilas, Hampankatta. Since my mum used to deep fry snacks very rarely I enjoyed them occasionally in these small joints after college, especially on the days when we had special classes.

Since the time I started this new series called the 'Kapi-Falhaar' (meaning mid morning/tea time snacks - sweets and savouries) I have been dying to make different kinds of Mangalorean snacks and sweets. Do watch this space for more recipes. The Kapi-Falhaar series will be posted every alternate Wednesday. Do let me have your feedback on it! Write to me at ruchikrandhap@gmail.com 

Chattambade | Masala Vade (Mangalorean Style Spicy Chana Dal Fritters)
Soaking time: 3-4 hours | Prep time: 5 mins | Frying time: 10 mins | Yield 8-10 chattambade

1. Wash and soak the chana dal in plenty of water for 3 - 4 hours, for best results soak it overnight. After the soaking period, drain the water and reserve 2 tablespoons of dal aside. 
2. In the dry grinding jar of your mixie coarsely grind the dry red chillies (they should be flaky, not completely powdered). Add the soaked chana and salt to taste and coarsely grind it (pulse it a few times till you get a very grainy mixture - do not grind it to paste). Remove into a bowl
3. To the bowl add chopped onions, chopped ginger, sliced green chillies, chopped coriander, chopped curry leaves, cumin and hing. Now add the reserved whole chana dal. Mix well and divide the mixture into 8-10 equal portions.
4. Wet your palms with water and roll each portion into a ball and flatten it into discs
5. Heat oil for deep frying on a medium high heat. To check readiness of the oil drop a tiny ball of the prepared mixture into the pan. If the ball sinks down, the oil is not hot enough yet. If it floats up within 2-3 seconds with several tiny bubbles around it, the oil is ready for frying.
6. Gently slip 2-3 discs into the hot oil ( do not overcrowd the pan - fry in batches if your pan is small) and fry until golden brown on both sides. Use a perforated spatula to spoon them out and drain excess oil against the pan before placing them on an absorbent kitchen tissue.
7. Serve hot with chutney and/or ketchup

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