Sapsige Soppu Ambode | Karnataka style Dill and Lentil Fritters

Deep fried spiced Lentil and Dillweed patties

[Aahm bo day] (Kannada)

‘Masala Ambode’ or simply ‘Masala Vade’ [wa day] as it is popularly known, is a commonly seen street comfort food in most parts of Karnataka and more so in Bangalore and Mysore. Those mini stalls or push carts surrounded by eager crowds waiting for their turn to grab a bite of the hot  and savory snack is an inviting sight in itself while the inescapable aroma emanating from the hot ‘Baandli’ (wok-like deep-frying pan, Kannada) demands full attention of one’s olfactory nerves.
In our family circuit, Ambode is almost the first choice of spicy snacks when it comes to festivals or festive occasions. Of course, it is one of my all time favourites, fit to be relished all by itself or as a side on a full course festive meal.
Since Instant Gulab Jamun that I posted earlier about, covered the sweet portion, I made Ambode with a twist of fresh Dill weed and onions to count for the savory part of the Deepavali festivities. And if I am not wrong, all credits to this version of the Ambode go to Karnataka cuisine. This is not the be all and end all of it. Many permutations and combinations are possible such as plain lentils or with Onions, with Mint leaves, with Curry and Coriander leaves, fresh Dill weed (as in here) or a mix and match of any of those I just mentioned.
Whoever invented deep-frying?
Whoever thought of oil to be the medium of re-birth for something as nonchalant as soaked and ground lentils. I mean, who knew lentils could turn out to be so dramatically tasty just by taking a plunge in hot oil. Between you and me, I don’t want to lie here. I might say no to you, but when no one’s looking, I might grab a couple of them and finish off before you know it. I told you!
Come to think of it, if I ever wrote to the Ambode, this is what it would look like:

Dear Ambode,

You had me at your first aroma!

As you were being deep-fried, you beckoned me..You have a special place on rainy days, you make for a perfect companion to curl up on the couch with a hot cuppa. I love you just the way you are, crunchy on the outside and one hundred percent savoury. One bite and you transport me to a different plane. I am happy to see you each time, every time.

Ahem Ahem..Enough already! Let’s get to the making now..

Things you’ll need:
  • 6-7 strands Dill weed finely chopped (Increase/Reduce as you fancy)
  • 1/4 small Onion minced
  • Peanut oil for deep-frying
To grind:
  • 1/2 cup split Bengal gram washed and soaked in water for 2-3 hours
  • 1 tbsp grated Coconut
  • 6 Red chillies
  • pinch of Hing/ Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
How it’s done:
  • Give the soaked split bengal gram a nice wash and drain well.
  • In a mixer, grind half the quantity of soaked split bengal gram and the remaining ‘to grind’ ingredients with 2-3 spoons water to a smooth paste. Do not add more water.
  • To this paste, add the remaining soaked lentils and just ‘pulsethe mixer a few times. Make sure to not grind it to pulp. You should be able to see a few whole lentils as is. That is the texture we want for a crispy ‘Ambode’.
  • Blend in the finely chopped onions and fresh Dill weed and mix well.
  • Place oil in a kadai/saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Roll this mix into small lemon sized balls and pat them onto the palm of your left hand (yes please! wash your hands clean). Slowly tip it onto your right hand four fingers.
  • When the oil is hot enough, gently slide the patty into the oil from a safe distance (do not turn your palm down on the oil as it can splash). Repeat with about 4-5 patties at a time. Do not overcrowd the oil with too many.
  • After about 5 minutes when they float up, flip them over the other side. Using a fine mesh strainer, remove them from the kadai once golden brown and the bubbling around them dies down. Strain on a tissue and keep aside.
  • Enjoy the heavenly crunch!

{Ambode Making from ground lentil mix to the hot oil}
Tips:
  • Only way you can mess this up is by adding too much water while grinding. Don’t fret yet! Just add in a little bit of Besan flour / Bengal gram flour until the runny texture is fixed and the mix can be comfortably held as a ball. You might also want to re-adjust with additional salt and a bit of red-chilli powder if required.
  • If you are not too happy about sliding the patties into the oil with your hand, place it on a spatula and immerse the spatula in the oil. The patty will release itself in the oil.
  • To check if the oil is hot enough, just drop a speck of the lentil mix into the oil and see if it rises up immediately. If it does, oil is ready. If it takes time to rise up, just wait for the oil to heat up.
  • I prefer to use a small kadai only half-filled with oil. That way, oil wastage can be minimized.
  • Never mind if you don’t like Dill weed, Ambode is so versatile, it tastes great even without it. To make the regular Ambode, just replace Dill weed and Onion with 3-4 strands of Curry leaves and Cilantro each, minced.
  • Hing cuts the gassiness of the lentils. If you don’t have it, add in a little bit of grated ginger to aid proper digestion.

5 thoughts on “Sapsige Soppu Ambode | Karnataka style Dill and Lentil Fritters

  1. Girish says:

    I eat these for starters, main course and dessert and then as an evening snack. Quite simply, this is the finger food of gods

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