Vaali Panna Podi / Malbar Spinach Leaves Fries …. Yumz.
These fries are similar to marala panna podi. We do not get marala pana (leaf) in Mumbai and I always miss this dish which I so do love. The credit for this one goes to 2 friends. Rekha R Nayak for suggesting some time back that the same could be prepared using large vaali leaves and my dear and close frd. Late Meera Bhat (prop. Rashmi Caterers, Thane) for always giving me valuable tips, here she suggested steaming them before frying to make it more oil free and evenly shaped. It was simply lovely with Dalitoy and Sheeta.
Marala paan is a leaf similar to patrade / colocasia / arvi leaves. But they are a bit smaller in size and have some redish spots on them and are a bit thicker in texture. These are available in plenty in Mangalore and other places nearby. We grew up eatin deliciously prepared fries by my Mother using these leaves. However, after marriage to my dismay these leaves were not available anywhere in Mumbai.
I used to prepare them using patrade / colocasia leaves. But the taste was never the same. Lately my friend had posted the same using Vaali / malbar spinach / basale / maayalu leaves. After reading her post I was eager to catch hold of large vaali leaves as it could not be done with smaller ones. It took me a while as I could not get hold of large leaves. Finally I did manage to catch hold of them recently and rest is history. The same can be prepared with patrade / arbi / arvi / colocasia and marala leaves too.
You need large vaali leaves for preparing this fries. I used about 25 leaves in all. Trim off the stem portion of the leaves. You need only leaf part. You can thinly slice off the thick vein portions of the leaves. Spread the leaves on the floor for about an hour. This helps the leaves in becoming limp which will be a great help while rolling as stiff leaves tend to break. Remove wash in water and let drain completely. All traces of water should be removed as much as possible.
For the preparation of paste : Roast 1/2 cup of urad dal to light red colour. Remove let cool a bit and powder it in mixer grinder to a rava texture. Remove in a bowl. To this add 1 cup rice floor, 1 tblsp chilly powder, 1 tsp tamarind pulp, 1 tsp hing, salt to taste and mix with water to make a thick paste.
Applying the paste on leaves : On a flat surface keep a leaf with veinal side on top and apply the paste on it. Top it with another leaf and apply paste again. Repeat till you have about 4-5 leaves topped on eacth other. Fold slightly the side and then tightly roll the leaves from rounded side towards tapering side. I have added photo for clear understanding. Please do go through them. The application of paste is similar to that of Patrado / vadi preparation.
Now comes a step which is included here after the valuable suggestion of my friend. You can either slice the rolls as it is or steam and then slice them. Steaming of the rolls before deep frying was suggested to me by my friend Meera who unfortunately is no more. But this step of steaming helps in evenly slicing of the rolls without leaving sides etc. also while deep frying it absorbs less oil.
Just put the rolls in a round flat vessel and steam in a Idly steamer for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. Put this in refrigerator for 2 hours. Remove and slice to ½ inch thickness evenly. Now roll these slices in rice powder and keep ready for deep frying.
For deep frying : Heat plenty of oil in a deep frying pan. When smoking hot, lower the heat to medium and gently slide in each rice flour dusted sliced rolls into the oil and fry till crispy. Remove on an absorbent paper for the excess oil to drain off. Repeat the remaining slices. Serve hot with Rice, Dalitoy and any other dish of you choice.