Today, we bring you another native dish from the famed streets of Andhra. This time, it is Gummadikaya Vadiyalu. Also known as Ash Gourd Wadis, Neer Poosanikai Vadi or Boodida Gummadikaya Vadiyalu, these are super airy and crispy fritters made with Ash Gourd. Similar to pickles, these vadiyalu/vadams/vadis have a lengthy process of preparation.
Summertime and grandmother’s house is all about preparing vadiyalu, pickles and more. Children, mother, aunts and everyone else in the house can be seen contributing to the humungous task of preparing these fritters. It is a story of good memories, nostalgia and gleeful summertime. If you’re a desi like us, you would have most probably spent many such summers at your grandma’s.
Usually, these Budida Gummadikaya Vadiyalu are made in huge batches that is enough for all the relatives to return home laden with these goodies. Although in a lengthy process, they are ridiculously easy to make. Summer time is the most ideal time to make these vadiyalu since they include a lengthy drying process. The warm summer days are perfect for drying the moisture out of the ash gourd. Sometimes, we like to think that summertime is chosen for making these vadiyalu so that grandmothers can order their grandchildren to do all the chores for them. Anyway, the recipe, for the most part remains simple and anyone can master it when things are done right.
Since these vadiyalu are made for consumption throughout the year, the first process in the recipe involves removing all the moisture from the ‘gummadikaya’. About 1” inch pieces of the ash gourd are cut into thin pieces and mixed with a good amount of salt. Then they are left in the salt for a couple of hours. Then, water is squeezed out of these pieces using hands. To further remove the moisture, these pieces are squeezed in a cheesecloth and hung for several hours. Once these pieces are deemed dry enough for the preparation, they are dipped into a special urad dal batter. This batter is usually flavored with ingredients like green chillies, turmeric, etc. Then comes the most important part of the process – sun drying these vadiyalu. Usually, a soft cotton cloth or a huge plastic sheet is spread in a bright area on the terrace. Then, the batter mixture with the ash gourd is gently spread in small circles around the sheet. Ideally, it is about 1 tbsp of batter per fritter. The sheet is then left to dry for about 3-4 days in the bright sunlight. In our childhood, we remember standing guard against these vadiyalu preventing any birds from stealing away our hard work. At last, three to four days is what it would take for us to finally taste these amazing fritters which would be deep fried just before our meal. Yum!
Budida Gummadikaya Vadiyalu are a classic dish in the Andhra cuisine. They have the potential to transform any dish from simple to wow. Pair them with dal rice, curd rice, rasam, sambhar or even lime rice or pulihora.
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