Can you tell I am making the best use of this unusual and unbearable summer? I am keeping myself busy.. not making gum drops, cough drops, licorice drops, but lentils drops; hard, tough, sun-dried ones.
Mung Wadis are tiny little drops of sun-dried lentil paste. And I have plenty of sun this summer. Before I move further ahead, let me mention here that these sun-dried Wadis are NOT edible without cooking. Cooked in a sauce, these dry brittle drops soak up the flavor and the sauce and becomes spongy and tender. I will post the recipe of these being cooked in a curry sometimes later.
Mung Wadis are very popular in India and are cooked in a curry by itself, with potatoes or with any other vegetables. The lentil and the spices used might differ from one region to another. The Punjabi Wadis are extremely spicy and are usually made with urad dal and are whitish in color. Mung wadis (made with yellow mung) are kind of common where ever wadis are consumed have a more yellowish tinge like these ones.
Mung Dal or the Yellow Lentils
In Bengal, where my home is, wadis/or boris (as they are called) are generally cooked in a curry, used as crispy garnish over some dried vegetable dish and are also used as a basic fried side served with Dal and rice. The wadis are thus made with either yellow mung or urad dal/lentils depending on what kind of use they are going to be put into. If the wadis are going to be consumed just fried, white poppy seeds are added for extra crunch to a urad dal paste.
As I get older, I feel that the strings of the past pulls me closer to my home. The little incidents and the times I spent in my childhood which I never thought I would remember suddenly spring and drench me with a strange longing to go back in time. That is what happened when I decided to make these wadis. As I was staring out at the parched thirsty yard, I remembered some afternoons when I sat and watched the mung wadis being made by my grandma, great grandma or may be the elderly neighbor. The large brass plates used to be covered with pure white fine cotton cloth and a surreal pattern of the wadis quickly filled up the empty space while the nimble fingers deftly worked dropping the paste in a little mound on the cloth.
The shape almost looked like a tear drop, for the tip of the mound would be pulled quickly in a little curl before another one was dropped just by its side, making them look like a series Hershey’s Kisses. Hershey’s was unknown to me then, but the shape and the pattern of the wadis fascinated me.
My fingers are not as nimble and experienced; this is the first time ever I actually ventured out making these. Since these are readily available in India and in Indian grocery stores, there are only a few old fashioned people left still making their own. Mine were irregularly shaped and a few that got close to the Hershey’s Kisses; but otherwise they were about perfect – in taste and flavor.
These tiny drops are traditionally sun-dried and are usually available from the “locally made” group of sellers. But if you do not have enough sun, Sharmila suggests baking them in the oven!
Mung Wadi or Mungaudi – Sun-dried Lentil Drops
- 2 cups yellow Moong/Mung dal/lentils
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- a generous pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3-4 red dry chili pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (Optional) – the color of the wadi will be paler yellow without the turmeric
Note: Any kind or combination of spices or herbs maybe used to make the wadis.
Wash the yellow lentils till the water runs clear. Soak them overnight.
Grind them with least amount of water (the ground consistency should be paste like, almost like Hummus; no water should run and when spooned out on a plate, the paste should be sitting at that spot without flowing), and all the other ingredients. Whip the paste to air it. I use my hand (fingers together) to whip it as I used to see my grandmas do it.
Take a big board or tray and place a foil or parchment paper or a very thin cotton cloth over it. Use the tip of a spoon or your fingers to drop tiny bits on the foil/parchment/cloth.
Updated: Or you may make a hole in the ziploc bag and use it to dispense the paste, as suggested by a reader. (see comment by Smita) .
Leave some space between each.
Dry in full sun and heat until they are hard and brittle. Dry them consecutively for 3-4 days. It must be at least 85-90 degree F outside.
Store in dry airtight containers. They will keep for many months, until ready to be cooked.