Alu vadi/patra is a yummy snack traditionally made with taro leaves. Every time there was a special lunch get together at my grandmas house, a platter full of these were sure to be there. Today I make this recipe with a twist, using swiss chard leaves instead of taro because taro leaves are not always freshly available , plus i enjoy incorporating western vegetables in Indian cuisine — an adventure in itself! I could not tell the difference, the taste was just like the original.
12 swiss chard leaves
1 cup chickpea flour
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbs tamarind pulp
2 tbs jaggery or brown sugar
2 cloves of grated garlic
Salt to taste
4 tbs oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
1 tablespoon frozen grated coconut ( optional for garnish)
Snip the stems and wash the swiss chard well. Pat dry the leaves with kitchen towel. Fold each leaf into half with the stem vein running in the middle of the leaf. Carefully slice the thicker vein, while trying to keep the leaf from tearing too much, Sometimes there are small rips in the leaf but that is fine, Trimming of the middle vein makes rolling the leaf easy.
Now time to make the batter. Mix chickpea flour, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, turmeric, tamarind pulp, jaggery, garlic and salt with some water. Continue to mix until you have a smooth batter.
When you buy Swiss chard the leaves are not of all same size but that is totally fine. I had 12 leaves so I divided them into piles of 6 and made 2 rolls stacked with 6 leaves.
Lay one leaf up side down on a large cutting board . Apply the gram flour batter evenly to the leaf. After the first leaf has a thin layer of paste applied all over, take another leaf of either the same size or smaller. Put it on top of the first and apply the batter in a thin layer to the back of the second leaf. Repeat this process for the next 4 leaves starting with the biggest leaf to the smaller ones.once one stack is ready start rolling the stack of leaves to form a tight roll sealing the edges Keep the roll aside. Repeat the same process for the remaining leaves and make the second roll. Arrange the rolls in a lightly greased steamer rack.
depending on how deep your pot is, add 1 -2 cups of water to the steamer pot, and bring to a simmer. Put the steamer rack with the rolls in them in the pot. Cook covered for 15 to 20 mins. Turn the heat off. Let the rolls cool down completely. Then cut each roll into thick or thin slices.
Heat a pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds and arrange the slices on the skillet. Cook for a couple mins on each side until golden, carefully flip over. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Cook for a couple mins or until the vadi’s are golden and crispy.
These Alu vadi or patra made with swiss chard leaves can be served with any chutney as an appetizer, or just an evening snack with tea .