Heavy clouds gather, darken the horizon and as light fades in the airy rooms, the lamps are switched on. A cool breeze comes in slowly, gathers strength and the curtains dance in billowing waves. Housewives rush out to gather their clothes from the clothesline outside. Rolls of thunder come nearer us. Stabs of lightning flash across the darkening sky. Mothers call, children run inside, sad that their playtime is cut short. Small drops of rain fall ever so lightly, silently making spots on the earth, then in an ever-increasing size turn into sheets of water ultimately coming down in torrent like pillars. Nature is driving in full force now. The distant roar of the oceans in all its fury can be heard, strong winds sashay the tall coconut palms back and forth and up in the skies, birds rush to their shelter. Welcome to the monsoon season every Malayali waits for in anticipation. It is truly a wonderful, humbling experience.
Deep inside my heart lives a girl from 70’s Quilon, who adores the patter of raindrops and the heady scent of wet earth. The clouds disappear, the clear sky shines forth and the place is transformed into a dewy green, glistening, gleaming Eden presenting a clean slate to renew life afresh.
And there is nothing cozier than to sit on the verandah, while nature is rejoicing all around you, watching the thunder of water crashing and enjoying the pleasantness of the dipped temperature with hot, crisp, spicy parippu vadas and a cup of steaming strong coffee.
Parippu Vada/ Masala vada
- Tur Dal / Tuvar Dal – 1 cup
- Big Onion / Savala – 1,finely chopped
- Ginger – 1″ piece, peeled and finely chopped
- Green Chilly – 1, finely chopped
- Fresh Curry Leaves – 2 stalks, leaves finely chopped
- Oil – about 1.5 cup
- Salt – to taste
- Wash tur dal well. Soak in water for 45 minutes. Drain water and coarsely grind the dal with salt in a mixer grinder for about 2 – 3 pulses.
- Add chopped ingredients to the ground dal. Mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat oil in a deep-frying pan. Make lime sized balls of the ground mixture, flatten it. Slowly and very carefully slide it into the hot oil.
- When both sides are golden brown and crisp, they are done. Drain excess oil on a tissue paper. Serve hot with coconut or mint chutney.
- Notes – For a spicier vada, add more green chillies.
- Water should be drained off completely to avoid oil soaked vadas.
Quick Snack – Aval Mixture – A mixture, healthy and filling. You need aval / beaten rice, thin variety – 3 cups, pottu kadala / puffed bengal gram – 2 tbsp, groundnuts /peanuts – 2 tbsp, til seeds – 1 tbsp, raisins – 2 tsp, red chili – 1, chili powder – 1/4 tsp, turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp, oil – 3 tbsp, curry leaves – 2 stalks.To prepare, heat oil, add mustard, curry leaves and stir for 1/2 to 1 minute. Now add groundnuts – about 2 minutes, then saute puffed gram for 1 to1.5 minutes. Now add til seeds and raisins, with the powders, chilly and turmeric. Stir. Add aval and stir till crisp. Take off heat. Cool and store in air – tight containers.
Notes – When crackling sounds arise from the groundnuts and til seeds in the pan, you know they are done.
Quick Salad – The papaya fruit is an excellent addition to our diet, healthy and tasty, though not for pregnant women. Wash papaya well, cut in half , scoop out seeds and sprinkle lime juice or honey on it. Papaya can increase resistance to coughs and cold since it is rich in antioxidants, the vitamins, B, C and A.
Quick Tip – One or two cloves in the sugar jar will keep the ants away.