When we are young, we feel that the whole world is at our feet. We are open to experiences and are more trusting by nature. So when I met a guy many years ago, I was not averse to the idea of getting to know him better. While the first stirrings of love were yet to be experienced, we were happy just to talk and spend time together. It went on for a few months until one fine day he suggested we go for a long drive out of town. Despite my apprehensions, I agreed to spend a day with him because he seemed trustworthy.
So on a very sunny Sunday morning I met him at a designated spot and together we went on a long drive. We listened to music and spoke about everything under the sun till we reached a quiet little place where he parked his car. We tentatively held hands giggling nervously with expectation when he asked me to close my eyes. The prospect of the first kiss can be a very exciting one, and I thought that this would be the moment when we will have our first one. I closed my eyes in edgy expectation, slightly moving towards him. But nothing happened, I squirmed in my seat and pushed a little more, and nothing happened. While I heard him fumbling in the car looking for something, it was clearly not my cheek that’s he was searching for.
I finally opened my eyes to see that he was up he was staring at me with a round box in his hands. As my hope for the first kiss went down the drain, my inquisitive nature took over, and I opened the box. Suddenly my nose was hit with the delicious smell of something fried and spicy at the same time. And that was the first time that I was introduced to “Kombdi Vade” which was something his mother made well. Kombdi means “Chicken” in Marathi and Vade means “Pooris/Flat Bread.” It is a specialty of the Konkan region of Maharashtra where they use a lot of Coconut in their cooking. The Chicken curry is deliciously thick and slightly spicy and the Vade are not the Oily concoction as one would assume they would be.
As I looked at his earnest face and deep green eyes, I knew that the guy was special and had apparently guessed that the way to my heart was through my stomach. I tentatively took the first bite with him staring at me and I knew while the kiss would take some time to come, I could surely enjoy the company of a man who wanted to feed me exotic food.
It has been 14 years since I first tasted “Kombdi Vade” and I have been married to the Green eyed boy for 11 of them. Cooking Kombdi Vade is a part of my life now and every time I make it we have a big laugh about the day when I was fed Vade instead of being kissed.
Don’t let the length of the recipe fool you into thinking that it is very difficult. You can make the Chicken curry a day in advance if you wish to and the Vade are really simple to make anyways.
For the Vade (Cooking time 15 minutes, Preparation time 30 minutes, serves 4)
1 cup Rice Flour
¼ cup Gram Flour
½ cup Urad dal (Soak overnight in water)
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Coriander powder
½ tsp Red chili powder
½ tsp Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Vegetable Oil for frying the vadas
Drain all the liquid from the Urad Dal and grind to fine paste.
Add the Rice Flour, Gram Flour, Salt, Coriander Powder Turmeric powder, Carom seeds, and Cumin seeds and mix well. Heat 2 tsp Oil and add it to this mixture ensuring your rub the mixture with your hands, so there are no lumps.
Add the Urad dal mixture little by little and start kneading the dough till it all comes together. The consistency of the dough is stiff. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes before you start rolling the vadas.
Take medium shaped balls in the palm of your hands; apply a little oil and using your fingers start forming the dough into circular shapes. The vadas are a bitch to make so you will have to use a little oil while shaping them. Alternatively you can place cling film on your rolling surface, apply a little oil and gently roll the dough with your fingers on the cling film till you have the desired shape.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and fry the vadas one by one. Drain on a kitchen towel and serve hot with the Chicken Curry.
For the Malvani Chicken Curry (Cooking time 45 minutes, serves 4)
For the dry Malvani Masala
One tsp Fennel seeds
Two tsp Coriander seeds
6 -7 Dry Red Chillies
One tsp Cumin seeds
4 Green Cardamoms
1 inch Cinnamon stick
One Black Cardamom
One tsp Vegetable oil
Heat oil in a pan and add all the ingredients for the masala and roast till they release a light aroma roasting them well.
Turn off the heat and grind to a fine powder and keep aside.
For the Marination
500 gms Chicken
Juice of 1 Lemon
One tsp Turmeric powder
All of the Malvani masala that we roasted earlier try and use fresh masala as it enhances the taste.
Wash and dry the Chicken and add the Lemon Juice, Turmeric powder, and Malvani masala and mix well.
Keep the Chicken aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I left it overnight.
For the wet masala
1 cup freshly grated Coconut (typically the dish calls for dry Coconut but since I could not find it I used fresh Coconut)
1 Onion roughly chopped
One tsp freshly chopped Ginger
Three cloves of Garlic
½ cup chopped Coriander
If you are using fresh Coconut, dry roast it first for a few minutes. Place all the ingredients in a blender with ½ cup water and grind to a smooth paste.
For the Curry
1 tbsp Vegetable Onion
One large Onion Finely Chopped
All of the wet masala
Salt to taste
Some Freshly Chopped Coriander to garnish
Heat oil in a pan and add the onion. Sauté till the Onions are translucent.
Now add the wet masala and cook till the masala turns lightly brown. Since we did not cook the Onion when we made the wet masala we need to ensure that the masala is cooked well.
Add the marinated Chicken to the Onion and Coconut mixture and cook for 10 minutes on a low flame.
Add Salt and 1 – 2 cups of warm water. Cover and cook till done. If you are serving the curry with Rice, you can have a watery consistency. But if serving with the Vade keep the consistency a little thick.
Garnish with freshly chopped Coriander. Typically the Kombdi Vade is served with the Chicken Curry, Lemon, and some roughly chopped Onions.