Barra (as we knew it) or vada

barraFor some reason I associate this lentil snack with rainy afternoons during school holidays. Don’t even try to work that one out … the possible reasons are just too far in the recesses of this uncertain brain to offer any useful links. Suffice to say it’s a great snack to have with some tea, spiced or otherwise.

Traditionally barras are round, about half-an-inch thick, about 2½ inches in diameter. They sometimes have a hole in the middle (to help them cook more easily?) … deftly made in my childhood memories in one swift thumb movement by the expert cooks who had learned all their skills from previous generations.

Split peas (I use a combination of dahls): 2 cups (soak overnight)
One onion (about 60-70g)
One small potato (about 50gm), grated
One fresh chilli chopped as finely as you can get it
One clove of garlic, well crushed
One small piece of ginger, well crushed
One teaspoon jeera
Three or four curry leaves (tez patthi)
Half a teaspoon of turmeric
Salt to taste

Making the mixture
Soak 2 cups of split peas overnight… (for at least two hours anyway)
Grind using a blender or meat grinder
Keep any extra juice that comes out (to add to the mixture later if the paste looks too dry)
Add the chili, garlic, finely chopped onion
Add one tsp jeera
Add the finely chopped curry leaves
Add the grated potato
Add half tsp turmeric
Add salt to taste (if not enough you can add more after you taste the first cooked one)
Mix all the ingredients well in a large bowl. Add any more of the retained liquid to make if you need it for a better consistency.



Heat enough oil in a container so that when you put the patties in they can float after the initial cooking (in the 20cm-wide little karhai I used the oil was about 3cm deep)
Take a little handful of the mixture and pat it into a

Ready for an afternoon snack

little disc (wet hands are supposed to help)
Slide the patty into the hot oil. It’ll float as it cooks. Turn over at least once
The cooked barra should be golden brown 

Serve warm. They’re nice with tamarind chutney (some say brown sauce is a good substitute)


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