How to Make Sun-Dried White Pumpkin and Lentil Fritters (Kumbalakai Shandige)
White Pumpkin and Lentil Fritters
Crispy and spicy, white pumpkin (ash gourd) and lentil fritters make an excellent side dish for any meal. These fritters go by several different names in the local language, including boodu kumbalkai shandige and uddina shandige.
Usually, these fritters are not deep-fried, which makes them healthier. They are roasted in a pan and sprinkled with a few drops of oil.
Making these fritters takes quite a bit of time and energy, but it's worth it because you can make them in large batches and then serve them on multiple occasions. Whenever you desire, take a bowl of these fritters and roast them in a small pan, and use them as a main or side dish. Eating hot rice with these roasted fritters is a meal by itself.
Make these fritters on a sunny day for best results.
Word of Caution
White pumpkin (ash gourd) fritter batter needs to be very spicy. You may feel a burning sensation if you touch the batter with your fingers, but you have to keep the batter very spicy because once it's dried, it loses some of its spiciness.
How to prevent burning sensation: Apply some oil to your fingers and palms, or wear a glove before touching the batter.
- 2 big cups dehusked split black lentils (urad dal), washed and soaked in fresh water for 3-4 hours
- 1 big cup raw mango, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 big cup ash gourd (white pumpkin), peeled and grated
- 25-30 green chilies
- Peanut-sized amount of asafetida (hing powder)
- 3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon oil, for greasing the plastic sheet
- 4 tablespoons buttermilk or curd, for wetting the plastic sheet
Step 1: Make the Batter
- Wash the urad dal. Add fresh water and soak for 3-4 hours. I did this in the morning at about 5:00 a.m.
- Gather all the other ingredients and keep them handy.
- Strain the urad dal. Grind it into a wet grinder, adding a very small amount of soaking water (only if needed). In the last rounds of grinding, sprinkle a few drops of water to make the batter fluffy and light.
- Grate the white pumpkin (ash gourd) flesh. Set aside.
- Grind the chopped mango and green chilies together in a blender or mixer to get a smooth paste. No need to add water while grinding. Set aside.
- When the lentil batter is smooth, add hing (asafetida), ground chili-mango paste, grated ash gourd, and salt. Grind it for 1 or 2 rounds only; otherwise, the lentil loses the fluffiness due to the ash gourd and mango sourness. To avoid this, either grind only until the batter is just mixed, or pour the lentil batter into a container and mix other items.
- Check for taste. The batter should be spicier than the end product; it will lose some spiciness after drying. These fritters won't shrink much after drying, though, so use the proper portion of salt.
- I finished making the fritter batter at about 10 a.m. and immediately started baking it under the sun.
Step 1: Photo GuideClick thumbnail to view full-size
Step 2: Make the Fritters
- Mix the oil and buttermilk in a glass. If you are using curd or yogurt, add water to make it thin. Sprinkle this mix on a plastic sheet. This step makes it easier to detach the fritters from the plastic once they have dried.
- Place the plastic sheet in a sunny area. Start pouring a teaspoon at a time of batter on the sheet, one near the other. You can shape them using your fingers (refer to the photo). The fritters should dry under the sun for the entire day,
- By evening, you can observe that at least a few of them will detach from the sheet. Don't force them to detach. Keep the sheet under a fan at night. The next day, once again dry them under the sun. In 2-3 days they will have dried completely and become crispy.
- After the first day of sun-drying, you can try to dry them under a fan. However, sun-dried fritters will stay fresh for a long time in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for years!
Step 2: Photo GuideClick thumbnail to view full-size
Step 3: Roast the Fritters to Serve
Whenever you desire a spicy side dish, roast some of the sun-dried fritters in a pan and sprinkle some oil or butter over them. They are yummy, healthy, and flavorful.