South India, I guess all of India, has a culture of drying vegetables, mixtures of lentils and spices, and pastes made from rice, sago and similar. This is sensible of course – it preserves summer produce for use throughout the year, and thus in leaner seasons it extends freshly available ingredients.
Although terms are used interchangeably, strictly speaking:
- Vathal are dried vegetables and fruits
- Vadagam are dried balls of lentils and spices
- Vadam is a paste or dough made from rice, sago etc that is dried and then fried before using. Also called Fryums.
Vathal can be used in the traditional South Indian Vathal Sambar and Vathal Kuzhambu. They can be made from Turkey Berry,Cluster bean, Green Mango, Okra, Eggplant and other vegetables. I also dry Green Mango as it begins to ripen, giving a slightly sweet taste to the Vathal and resulting dishes.
Mango Vathal | Dried Mango for Indian Dishes
raw or ripening Green Mangoes
Slice the flesh from the mango seeds, and cut into large wedges. Place in a glass bowl and add salt (1 scant tspn per mango) and turmeric (1 large pinch per mango). Mix well and allow to sit for several hours and up to 36 hours, stirring periodically.
Drain. Spread out on trays without overlapping.
Dry in the sun, turning periodically, until the mango flesh is completely dried. This can take several days – bring the mango pieces inside at night.
Alternatively, use a dehydrator to dry the mango – about 40C until dried and leathery.
Store in an airtight container for up to a year or more.
As well as Kuzhambu and Sambar dishes, the mango vada is wonderful cooked with rice or with a mixture of rice and mung dal. There is no need to soak the vathal before cooking, but add a little more water to the rice or rice-mung dal mixture.
Mango can also be dried without soaking in salt and turmeric. Simple spread the pieces on trays and dry as directed.