Recipe for shallow-fried Indian spiced Chana Dal and Peanut Patties served with a tangy, creamy and zesty tamarind, chili and coconut milk sauce
1 cup dried split chana dal or yellow split peas
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup unsweetened dried grated coconut, soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
4 green chilies, seeded and chopped
2.5cm piece ginger, finely sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon asafetida
2 tablespoons coconut oil or other cooking oil for frying
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
2/3 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 dried whole red chilies, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Thoroughly rinse the chana dal or yellow split peas. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the peanuts, and soak for 2 hours in several inches of water.
Meanwhile, soak the grated coconut in 1/2 cup boiling water for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Drain the dal or split peas and transfer to a food processor. Add the coconut, chilies and ginger. Process until the mixture is well blended and turns into a fairly thick paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the cilantro, sea salt, turmeric, cumin, paprika and asafetida. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Whisk together the tamarind paste, coconut milk and about 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Stir in the garam masala, salt, chilies and cilantro. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to medium, and stir occasionally until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes or so. Set aside until ready to serve the patties.
Shape about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the vada mixture into small patties about 1/2 inch thick and 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide, and place on a plate.
Line a few plates with paper towel and heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, fry the patties in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from the pan with a slotted lifter and let drain on the towel-lined plates. Repeat until all the patties are cooked.
To serve, place a few of the prepared patties on a plate and drizzle with sauce.