Sepu vadi, ie split Urad dal Vadi in Spinach Gravy, is a traditional recipe from the hilly Northern Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. A very tasty curry, I found it interesting to make.
As a member of the foodie group Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge I have been participating in our current project of cooking from the cuisine of each of the States of India, in turn. The theme for May 2018 was Himachal cuisine, so I sat down to search cook books and online references for a traditional Himachali dish to make. (More about how this group works, later on in this post.) Though I have visited Himachal and enjoyed the food there, it is only when I read up for this post that I understood the sheer variety of dishes that make up its wonderful cuisine. One set of dishes are made for the traditional feasts called Dhams. You may like to read more about these in this article that I came across online: Himachali dham.
The split Urad dal Vadi in Spinach Gravy is similar to the popular palak paneer in appearance, but the taste is very different as several spices, including fennel with its distinctive flavour, are used in the spinach gravy as well as while making the vadi.
This is the second time I have prepared a curry using fried lentil nuggets in a vegetable gravy. The first was when I made this awesome tasting Bihari Baingan Badi Sabzi.
Let me tell you a little from what I learnt about the vadi for the split Urad dal Vadi in Spinach Gravy. The badi (wadi/vadi) I made for the Baingan Badi Sabzi required the whole (sabut) urad dal (black gram dal) to be soaked overnight, ground to a batter and the little badis made from the batter to be sun dried and finally, fried and added to the curry.
For this curry though, ie split Urad dal Vadi in Spinach Gravy, I used split black gram (split urad dal) lentils, soaked overnight, and then ground to a paste along with spices, steamed and then fried and added to the curry. A totally different method of preparation and of course, taste, though I must say both the badi and this vadi turned out delicious in their respective curries.
When you make the vadi or urad dal fritters according to this recipe, you may have some left over – store the fried vadis in an airtight container and use them in kadhi or or in a curry.
I had fried the vadi in mustard oil, but if you are not used to the taste, you may substitute with a vegetable oil such as sunflower oil instead. Sesame oil, coconut oil and olive oil however, would not give you the authentic taste.
The vadi may be made with white whole (sabut) urad dal, but I preferred this version with the split dal with skin on.
The curry needs some time for preparation and cooking, including steaming the urad dal batter and deep frying the vadi in batches. You may make the vadi a day or two earlier as that needs the maximum time.
In earlier posts, I have talked about how the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, works. Each of us is allotted another member as the partner for the month, and we give our partner the names of 2 ingredients, viz the secret ingredients, which will be suitable for the cuisine/theme for the month. We plan the recipe for the month around the secret ingredients and of course fitting into the theme, and then make the item. We post an image of the prepared dish on the group, and all the other members try to guess what could be the 2 secret ingredients. Its not just fun and camaraderie, though there is plenty of that! For each theme, we get to explore cuisines which we may not be familiar with and read about cooking methods used in different regions of India as well as ingredients specific to that region.
My partner for May is Shobana Vijay. We exchanged ingredient names and I requested her to give me as the secret ingredients, cumin seeds and cardamom, which are used in a number of recipes of Himachali cuisine. This fit right into my split Urad dal Vadi in Spinach Gravy.
Shobana blogs at ShobasDelight. I found it a lovely site to browse, with a line up of several recipes including traditional Indian recipes using a variety of vegetables and with step by step instructions. Please do visit her blog, as well as check out the delicious looking Channa Madra that she made using the two secret ingredients I gave her: mustard oil and chickpeas.
Sending this recipe to the following event: