Do you recall M Aunty? The neighbours you might want to steal? Yes, the extremely good cooks who are also very generous people. They both hail from Rajasthan, and their tradition is vastly different from ours. Aunty M tells me that traditionally only ‘kanji ke bade’ is made in Rajasthan during Holi and Diwali.
‘Kanji’ is a fermented beverage and it forms a very important part of Punjabi and Rajasthani cuisines. It can be taken as a drink by itself, or can be used as a pickling base, or as a marinade as in ‘kanji ke bade’. Badas are fritters made with split mung lentils. The fritters are soaked in the kanji and served the next afternoon. By then the badas soak in all the tasty, tangy flavours and the water and ooze juice with every bite. Mouthwatering! If you allow them to soak till the afternoon the badas taste even better.
I cannot label this healthy by any measure, but when I say these are so, so delicious it is a true claim. The recipe is based on Aunty M and K’s method.
Tip: Before making the badas, make the kanji.
Recipe: Kanji ke bade (Split mung bean fritters in mustard flavoured water)
Yield: About 15-20 fritters
I: Recipe for kanji, the soaking liquid
A litre of water, boiled and cooled to room temperature.
Salt to taste (The liquid should be a little salty as it will be soaked in by the fritters) I use about 2 tsps. Of powdered rock salt
Red chilli powder – To taste, about 2 tsps. are enough for me
Fresh ground mustard seeds (small brown variety is traditionally used) – About 5-6 tsps.
Mix the powders and spices into cooled water well. Taste and adjust salt and chilli powder as per your requirement. Set aside till badas are made.
II: Preparing moong badas (mung bean fritters), and assembling the recipe
Split mung beans | Moong dal – 1 cup
Whole wheat flour (optional) – 1 tsp.
Fennel seeds | Saunf – 1 tsp.
Dry coriander seeds | Saboot dhania – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – To taste
Salt to taste
About half a litre of hot water
Wash and rinse the dal in several changes of water till the water runs clear. Let the lentils soak in enough water for about 6 hours. I soak around mid-morning and prepare the batter in the evening.
Drain the water placing the lentils in a sieve for about an hour. Grind to a smooth paste adding as little water as possible.
Coarsely crush coriander seeds and fennel seeds. Do not roast them.
Add the seeds and the rest of the ingredients including the wheat flour, if using, and beat the batter well till it feels light and fluffy. This is important in order that the badas swell upon frying.
Heat oil in a wok to fry the fritters. Take a small walnut sized lump of batter and pat it into a 2mm thick circle on a wet plastic sheet or wet banana leaf. Carefully slip the circle on the tips of your right hand and slip it into hot oil. The method is similar to making urad dal vadas except that you do not make a hole in the center in this case. The circle needs to be thick enough to allow the bada to swell in hot oil. If it is thin it will not swell. Fry on both sides till swollen, golden and crisp. If you find shaping difficult, simply drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and fry. When crisp remove with a slotted spoon, draining as much of the oil as possible and drop the fritters into the vessel containing hot water.
Remove each bada and press between palms gently to release the oil. Now place the bada in the kanji. Repeat with the rest of the fritters.
Fry the next batch of badas, and repeat the above step till all the batter is done. You can also press out the badas in the hot water while the second batch of badas are fried.
Gently press all the badas into the kanji. Cover and leave at room temperature. The mustard seeds will take over the rest of the action.
Taste after 10-12 hours. The kanji should turn sour and carry the flavor of mustard. If not, leave the badas in kanji for another 2-3 hours till it tastes right.
The dish is generally served chilled, but tastes good at room temperature.
I omit the wheat flour as Jr.H is gluten-intolerant. I am told the wheat flour makes crispier fritters, but it does not seem to affect the taste in any way.
Are you seriously going to make this only during Diwali?
Please note that this dish is not for all. The flavour and tang of kanji is not appreciated by everybody. But once you have developed a taste you might not want to leave any badas in the kanji.