Vadagam is the seasoning balls in our region (Thiruttani, Tamilnadu, India). give a special aroma to the keerai and varieties. It is usually made by the expert elders of the family for their daughters and the daughter-in-laws. They make it every year in the summer when the sun is hot and the onions are cheap. The stock thus made serves the whole year’s need for seasoning/thallipu. They are made into balls just for the ease of counting. When these are sundried, there would be many other sun light projects going on by the side like rice vadams (called arisi kanji vathal in tamil), dry red chillies, dry mango for future pickles (manga vathal). The kids in the house will be in the terrace all the time tasting the manga vathal and eventually say their grandmas that they were chasing away the crows. Just like baby sitting , there will be a vadagam/vathal sitter taking care to protect them from the unexpected evening showers. It takes pains but the gains are worth the pains.
Onion- 1 and 1/2 kg
Garlic- 1/4 kg
Urad dall- 1/4 kg + 50 gm
Mustard seeds- 1/4 kg
Gram dall- 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds- 2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 kg
Turmeric powder- 2 tsp
Castor oil- as needed
50 gm of urad dall and fenugreek seeds are soaked for an hour first and ground to a coarse paste.This gives the binding to the balls.
The onion and garlic are peeled and coarsely crushed. This is typically done using a ullakai and ural. (I browsed a lot for these images but could not find it, so find here my scribble to illustrate it).
Then the mustard seeds, urad dall,gram dall, cumin seeds are added to it. Then the ground paste, turmeric powder and salt are added and mixed well. This is allowed to stand for two days. On the third day, they are made into balls with castor oil as the grease. The oil also acts as preservative.
These balls are sundried for 10 subsequent days and stored in an air tight container.
In a country like US when it is all the time snow and rain and little sunshine, we might try to make these in smaller quantity and in loose form and dry it for longer time in the oven. When I try and win in the attempt, I will update my success here.
Seasoning with vadagams and curry leaves