Sunday, August 3, 2014

Maddur Vade - Memories of a train journey and a delicious snack from a tiny town along the tracks

I really didn't plan on taking a month long break with my blog baby or plan to stay away from chit chatting with you for so long. Things just happened, a week of preparation to go to India, 3 weeks of exhausting but "totally will not miss it for the world" stay in India and a week to fight all the throat and other infections we picked up. That sums up the very rejuvenating vacation in a crisp and concise sentence. But I am sure you know that I will not let you all go that easily and would rather regale you with the details of my trip and make you all a part of the journey :-), so be prepared, and resign yourselves to my many accounts of the India visit over the next few posts.

Where do I begin? I really can't fit my 3 weeks of happiness into this flimsy post, so why don't I jump to what is relevant to today's post?
A quick note on the recipe today, I had made this maddur vade last month when it was the beginning of Summer and we had a week of sudden thunderstorms and showers making the weather perfect for something spicy, crispy, and ofcourse deep fried :-). I had even finished up the draft, selected the pictures and saved them onto my laptop in a neat little folder with a very noble intention of completing it and posting while in India. And then other things took priority and I completely ignored my little virtual space. And I have grown to respect all the bloggers who actually plan and schedule their posts while on vacations and work through bravely with bandwidth issues and power cuts, I lack that level of dedication. But I think I have a better story to tell now after the trip and hope to do justice to this ever popular, very unique (to Mysore region) evening snack that is bound to fill your heart with contentment and leave the taste buds satiated.
Maddur is a small town about an hour from Bengaluru and lies on the Bengaluru-Mysore highway. It is known for its tender coconuts and ofcourse Maddur vade. Long back (seems like it) after my graduation, I spent a little less than a year in Bengaluru as a working woman. That was my first time out of home stint in the 2 decades old life and I was trying to not show my apprehension of staying away or how much I missed home. I would wait for the weekends to come and I would be on the train on late Friday evenings or early Saturday mornings depending on when I could get away from work, looking forward to the familiar house, polishing off amma's food, sitting by anna's bed side and talk non stop about the week, playing with the little nephew and obviously going around my home town in my reliable old Luna.
Train journeys are a world of charm, to this day I love the Indian railways and cherish all my trips. They may not be as timely as some of the western countries railway systems are, it might still be a pain to book tickets online in India but there is an unexplained joy in the train rides especially the open windowed 2nd class rides. Yep, I personally prefer these rides to the all enclosed, air conditioned compartments. There is a bonding that happens in these rides - strangers becoming friends, home cooked food shared without hesitation and private pains and pleasures made public in a matter of few hours.
While the Friday evening trains used to be full of office goers returning home, Saturday morning rides would be a mixture of weekend travelers and some regular commuters that worked 6 days a week instead of 5. Being a young person, fresh out of college without a care in the world, I used to sit in those trains surrounded by many older and wiser aunties and uncles who spent the 1-3 hours (depending on where they got off) planning their days and trying to work out any family issues that needed attention. Many aunties would buy fresh greens and vegetables on the way and prepare them for the next dinner or lunch :-). These trains didn't stop for very long at any station and so all purchases would be done in a matter of few minutes when the train stopped. As it slowed down, you would already have vendors of all sizes and shape jumping into the train or reaching out from the windows with their goodies. Credit cards were unheard of, business was strictly by cash and exact change was always appreciated (thank you very much :-)) but if you were a regular customer, you could also say that you will give the money next day/week or whatever and credit would be applied to your account. I am always impressed with the mental calculations and account keeping acumen of Indian street vendors which seem to allude many big businessmen.
Anyway, since I didn't have to worry about keeping a house or planning a dinner when I got home, my eyes & ears would be tuned to the sounds of the hawkers selling Maddur Vade, that was the only thing I craved for and bought on the way. About a half dozen warm vades, packed deftly in old newspapers and dry leaves that stayed warm until I reached home a couple hours later to be shared with the family as we sat down together to catch up on the week gone by. The best of any food is when you share them with loved ones and the maddur vades just increased my joy of reaching the safe haven of home and that is how I always remember them.

Years have gone by, I don't make that train journey any more since there is no home any longer at the end of that ride nor or the people that made my home. I have consciously avoided going back to Mysore in the recent years, I know there is a flood of emotion bottled up inside rearing to get out when I make that trip but I am just not ready for it yet. So, I can't tell you if anything has changed if you were to take that train from Bengaluru now, I am sure things have changed just like every where else but I really hope the core of that journey still is present and gives the same 'home bound' happiness to every wandering soul. Stop and eat a Maddur vade on the way, it only adds positively to the experience.
I started making this dish at home many years back and one of my aunts taught me the trick of steaming the maida/all purpose flour before making the dough. This makes the vade crispy and flaky (just like the ones you get in the train stations) and stays like that without becoming rubbery or chewy if you were to use the raw AP flour. If you haven't noticed, it is called 'vade (eh)' and not 'vada (ah)' in the town of its origin and that is how it is familiar in the region.

On a side note, we had a small get together while in Bengaluru and had invited a few friends, the food was catered and while deciding on the menu, I jumped at the mention of Maddur vade on the menu card and added it to the list. However, it was a very oily and totally disappointing maddur vade while the rest of the food was really good. Just goes to show that this snack should not be taken for granted though it is easy to make. Follow the correct procedure if you want great results.

What do you need to make maddur vade?
Makes about 15
1 cup maida
1/2 cup chiroti rave/fine sooji + 1 Tbsp
2 Tbsp rice flour
1 Tbsp oil + oil to deep fry
1 cup finely chopped onion
10-12 curry leaves - finely chopped
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
4-6 green chilies - finely chopped or crushed into a course paste
How do you make Maddur Vade?
  • Put maida/AP flour in a vessel, cover it with a plate and steam it for 10 minutes. This makes the maddur vade crispy without being chewy. Make sure water doesn't get into the vessel. 
  • Once the maida cools a little bit, add it to a wide bowl along with 1/2 cup of sooji and rice flour. 
  • Break any lumps formed in the maida using fingers and fluff up the dry flours. 
  • Add finely chopped onion, curry leaves, salt and green chilies and mix well with a firm hand to make onions let out some juice. 
  • Heat 1 Tbsp of oil until hot and pour it on top of the flour mixture. 
  • Mix everything together with a spoon and let it sit for 10 minutes. 
  • Now, using your hand mix all the ingredients together and bring them together into a tight dough using water. 
  • Use water very cautiously (I needed only about 2 Tbsp), the amount depends on the onion and the juice it lets out. 
  • Knead for just a minute and break the dough into small lemon sized balls
  • Prepare an aluminium foil or plastic sheet by spreading a few drops of oil and pat the dough ball into a thick (about 2mm) disc. 
  • Sprinkle little bit of chiroti rave on top and press it down with the palm for that authentic finish. 
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan to deep fry. 
  • Keep the heat on medium and gently lower as many discs as possible (without piling them on each other) into the pan.
  • Fry them on low to medium heat (takes about 8-10 minutes for a batch to cook), flipping them over to get them to a golden yellow color on both sides. 
  • Take them out to a plate lined with tissue and let them drain completely. 
  • Serve warm with a cuppa. 
  • Maddur vade is thick and has a flaky texture, it is never crunchy/crackly. 
  • Cooking them on medium heat ensures a uniform and thorough cooking and keeps them crispy without becoming chewy. 
  • This is usually on the spicier side with a liberal dose of green chilies but use them to taste. 
  • A slightly watery coconut chutney is a great combination for maddur vade but you can use other dips (or no dips) of personal preference. 


kitchen queen said...

delicious tempting crispy madhur vadas.

Priya Suresh said...

Maddur vade,these crispies makes me nostalgic, omg wish i live near you.

SNEHA T.S said...

Wow love this recipe! Reminds me so much of our traditional yummies. I also have a blog dedicated to Vegetarian snacks - do you mind if I share this recipe on my blog?