This post was saved as a draft and was meant to be published earlier this year. Changed phones so didn’t work hence uploading now.
So I am a member of this Konkani food group on Facebook, and their feed is always flooding my timeline. I am not complaining infact it pains me sometimes as it takes me down to memory lane. Food makes me nostalgic. Especially the traditional Konkani GSB variety as I have memories of amma, bappama, etc.
Today, many of the talented members have put up posts of ‘vadis’ also known as ‘Odis’. The Mumbai GSBs usually refer to it as the previous name, whilst the “gaanv” influenced once, the latter.
Summer vacations marked the beginning of making scrumptious vadis, haapols ( papads), shevai (kurdaiye in marathi). And I would be my mum’s tail, literally as I loved making these delicacies. Honestly I enjoyed the making process rather than eating it all fried, once it was ready. With almost fifteen members in the family with the maximum populace of kids, one can imagine the quantity that was required to make any food. And dried items as the above can be consumed in vast quantities, especially on a nice rainy day, as an accompaniment with the basic, “sheeth ani daalitoy” ( rice and dal).
Vadi making is really an art, and I believe it must be a passion. The process involves a tedious painstaking ritual of pre soaking the rice, for a few hours, then grinding it to a paste and then cooking the rice and some water with salt till the rice mixture becomes a glutinous mass. The quantities, the proportions must be just right, as it affects the end product.
Vadis can be he simple variety with just salt and green chillies, or with garlic or with onions or simply with some “rai”.
Mum would ensure that she would start the process in time to “lay” the vadis in the morning before the sun was high up in the sky to avoid any sun strokes.
My job was to carry an extra steel bowl and some serviettes. Once we were on the terrace, she would neatly lay a wooden straw carpet, then a clean plastic sheet. She would anchor some rocks/ weights skillfully on all sides, especially the four corners to avoid any mishaps with gusts of wind. Although she would have cleaned the plastic in pre preps, she would still wipe it clean again ( I know where I have got my OCD from)!
She would then give the rice mixture a good mix before ladling some in a bowl for me so I could start at one end. Between us both, we would finish it within an hour or so. Mum was so awesome at it. Her vadis would be symmetrical beauties whereas mine would be like blotches, of course, I have improved a lot with time. The art was to grasp some of the rice mixture in your five fingers and drop them shapely on the sheet equi distant. They tend to shrink as they dry out, so one doesn’t need to worry about the space etc.
Now the best part about this was that I would have my mother completely to myself. She would talk, tell me little anecdotes, give me little lessons of life etc. and I cherished this time with her. She was a busy woman, though a housewife. Cooking for everyone, cleaning, taking care of us, dad,grandma , indulging in her creative hobbies of making art. Stitching, crochet, purses and what not.
Later in the afternoon, I would sneak up to eat some of have half dried vadis. I can literally taste them in my mouth as I am typing this. Oh my god!! Heavenly little beauties.
The next day, the vadis would be transferred to another side of the terrace for drying out, whilst we made another fresh batch. A continuous week of vadi making ensured we had a good supply for that rainy season.
It had to completely dry out, otherwise it could go bad, either because of rot or fungus.
After mum died, it was as if the vadi art died too. But after a few years, me and my sis decided to take the first step and made it on our own. I am proud of us, as both of us were still young and there were some discouraging factors at home who doubted us from the word go. But mum must have been with us, as the vadis turned out fantastic, year after year.
This year,when I go to india, I plan to make it in October, as the heat is quite good then.
If you ever get a chance to eat this delicacy do try it out. It’s humble in its origin but quite royal treat to eat!!
Amma, thinking of you today, a lot!!l