This cookbook lists 10 simple vatrals ( sun dried vegetables). The logic is simple :
Vatrals : Sun dried goodies: Sun dry raw / marinated/ blanched vegetables, deep fry and use.
Sundrying is one of the oldest ways to preserve foodstuff. Enzymes/ other natural chemicals within food / Microorganisms from outside are the main causes of food spoilage. Sun dries out water (and enzymes). This absence of water prevents the growth of microorganisms. So food is prevented from both internal and external spoilage. Sun drying works only when the weather is really hot. Almost any fruit / vegetable without too much water content can be sun dried. Large pieces do not sun dry well as the water deep inside does not evaporate fast. In coastal areas, a large variety of fish/ prawns is sun dried into karuvadu . It is interesting to note that only vegetables indigenous to
1. Avarakkai Vatral
2. Kothavarangai Vatral
3. Vepampoo vatral
4. Kathirikai Vatral
5. Chenai vatral
6. Sundakkai Vatral
7. Kovakkai Vatral
8. Manathakkali Vatral
9. Vendakkai Vatral
10. Thamarai thandu vatral
11. Pavakkai vatral
Using Vatrals :
1. Vatrals can act as vegetable substitutes in kulambu & sambar. Just add them straight to the gravy and let simmer till cooked.
2. Brush vatral with oil and microwave on high for 30 seconds to a minute or deep fry them in hot oil. Use to accompany curry and rice.
3.Deep fried / microwaved vatrals can be crumbled into a coarse powder and eaten mixed in with hot rice and ghee.
1. Hot, dry, breezy days are best for vatrals. A temperature of 85ºF or above, with humidity below 60 % is ideal for vatral making..
2. Keep vartals on a raised, perforated surface so that air can circulate all around them. Keep them covered with a cheese cloth to deter pests.
3. An oven or a dehydrator can be used instead of sun drying.
4. After sun drying, keep vatrals for 4-5 days in the freezer to make them last longer (Freezing kills off most insects / insect eggs).
5. Though not commonly practiced in south
6. Sun dried vatrals still have around 5-10% moisture left. So they do deteriorate eventually. Use them within a year.
7. While sun drying, keep vatrals indoors at night or they might soak up moisture from the cool night air.