Vegetable Tawa ‘Fry’

This dish is normally served at weddings and other celebratory functions in several parts of the country, especially North India. It is the most popular food counter at such functions. It is a live food counter where vegetables and the ‘masala’ are pre-prepared and kept on the tawa (girdle) separately. There are a variety of such vegetables on display. A guest can choose the vegetable/s of choice and these are then mixed with the masala and served. A really tasty preparation, with the vegetables deep-fried. This recipe uses no oil. While this is normally served at public functions, nothing prevents us from preparing it at home. I made this recently, not as a live counter, but pre-mixed the vegetables and masala. It was indeed finger-licking good!

Vegetable Tawa Fry

Use any vegetables of your choice. I used bitter gourd (karela, pagarkkai), taro root (arbi, chembu), eggplant (baingan, kathrikkai), okra (bhendi, vendakkai) and potatoes (aloo, urulai kizhangu). Therefore, I will pen this recipe with the vegetables that I used.
3 medium sized potatoes – washed, boiled and cubed into 1″ pieces
12 pieces okra
6 pieces of the small, round eggplants
3 pieces bitter gourds
6 medium sized pieces of taro root – washed, boiled, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp dried fenugreed leaves (kasuri methi, ularntha venthiya keerai)
2 tsp chaat masala
2 tsp red chilli powder
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1 tsp cumin powder (jeera powder, jeeraga podi)
1 tsp coriander powder (dhania powder, kothamalli podi)
1 tsp fennel powder (saunf powder, perunjeeraga podi)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 green chillies, chopped
1″ piece ginger, chopped
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
Chop the head and tail of the bitter gourd
Slit vertically and apply salt
Set aside for 15 minutes
This will remove the bitternCess
Then wash thoroughly and cut into 2″ pieces
Make four slits (do not cut fully) on the eggplants and set aside
Wash the okra thoroughly and set aside to dry
Then cut the top and the tail
‘Fry’ each vegetable individually in an air-fryer till they are crisp and cooked (you need to do this separately as they take different lengths of time to cook)
Turn over the vegetables a couple of times while frying so that all sides are equally done
After frying, cut the okra into 1 1/2″ pieces
Sprinkle a little salt on the vegetables
Set aside
Heat a wok and add the tomatoes, green chillies and ginger
Cook till the tomatoes are mushy
Cool and grind to a fine paste
Transfer to a mixing bowl
Add the chat masala, red chilli powder and salt
Add turmeric powder, asafoetida, coriander powder, cumin powder and fennel powder
Cook well and add the dried fenugreek leaves
Check and adjust salt
Finally, add garam masala and the chopped coriander leaves
At this stage keep the flame low and add each vegetable separately to this masala
While adding the eggplant, ensure that the masala is ‘stuffed’ into the vegetable
Cook and transfer to a serving plate
Add the next vegetable – and so on till all the vegetables are done
Serve hot with red/brown or Indian breads

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