Bellam Garelu – Sweet Vadais

I am sure my fellow Malaysian Indian friends would go “really?!” reading the above title. Believe me when I first heard of this, I too went “hmmm….” rather doubtfully. I mean vadais are so popular among Malaysians – the Malays, Chinese and Indians alike - and we like it hot, crispy and with extra green chilies at the side, please!

There are basically two types of vadais – the ones made with chana dhal (paruppu vadai) and the ones made with urad dhal (methu vadai: crunchy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside). Methu vadas are also ‘lovingly’ called the vadais with the hole by some ;) But bellam garelu (Telugu) takes your love for methu vada to a different, sweet level.

Three years plus into my marriage and learning about the varieties of Indian sweets, I can say we Malaysian Indians no nothing much about the real Indian sweets! If laddoo, jelebi, halva, kesari, athirasam, paal kova, Mysore pak were (among few others) the most regular sweets we indulge in during Hindu festivals in Malaysia, in India the above are the most basic selection of sweets!

Well, first stop during my marriage in Andhra, there was a host of unfamiliar looking and tasting Indian sweets that were served but, I was the bride then: I wasn’t too interested in trying out the different types of sweets, if you know what I mean :) The second time I was in India was for my bro-in-law’s wedding in Bangalore early this year. I got acquainted to even more varieties of Indian sweets and this time they were all different from the ones I already knew during my marriage in Andhra! Phew…I couldn’t help but think how India is the perfect place for a person who loves Indian sweets (like my sweet-toothed cousin) :)

This dessert happens to be a traditional, festival favorite in Andhra where my hubby is from. For this dessert, unlike the regular vadai-making, no onions or green chillis go into the batter - just whole urad dhal soaked (overnight) in water, drained, ground to a fine paste with salt, beaten till fluffy and white, shaped into vadais (no holes necessary- like mine), deep-fried till crisp and golden brown and dropped immediately in warm syrup till they absorb the syrup. I used simple syprup for my sweet vadais: 1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup water. The traditional recipe actually requires the use of jaggery (palm sugar). I add a pinch of cardamom powder to enhance the aroma of the simple syrup.

Biting into a crunchy vadai, bursting with the sweet syrup is…hmmm….crunchy, salty, sweet all in one big, juicy bite!

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