Sadam Killu Vadam| Sundried Leftover Rice Fritters

Hello, people! I’m here today to share our family recipe for Sadam Killu Vadam, a perfect summer activity apt for this period of lockdown.

When the Corona pandemic took hold and the very first lockdown was announced, I made a promise to myself not to get bogged down by the situation. I vowed to myself that I would try my best to keep spirits high,  that I would spend my time exploring food. The time then was just perfect for making vadams (Tamil for sun-dried fritters), and I went on to make a few varieties under my mom’s expert guidance, with help from the bub. I had posted some pictures of the vadam-making on my Instagram page, and several readers DMed to ask for recipes. Well, I’m here with a rather late response to those queries, but one that is still relevant as it is still peak summer in many parts of the country. Today, I’m going to share with you all the proceedure for the Sadam Killu Vadam we made, a kind of sun-dried fritter made using leftover rice.

Deep-fried Sadam Killu Vadam

Tamilnadu’s rich Vadam, Appalam and Vatthal heritage

Most states in India have the culture of sun-drying food, I’m sure, an act undertaken to preserve certain vegetables as well as to create a reserve of food for later use. Sunlight being plentiful in most parts of India, especially in the months of summer, sun-drying is a popular form of preserving food. Kashmir has the tradition of drying fish, fruits, vegetables and berries, while the sun-dried lentil-based vadis of Rajasthan and Punjab are quite famous. The state of Tamilnadu also has a rich heritage of making different types of sun-dried fritters (called ‘vadam’), papads (called ‘appalam’), vegetables (called ‘vatthal’).

Vadam can be made using sago pearls aka sabudana, rice and beaten rice aka poha, among other things. Why, there are several different types of vadam made using rice in Tamilnadu! This particular vadam variety is made using leftover rice. To make this vadam, salt and a few spices are mixed with leftover rice, which is then ‘pinched’ into small portions and placed on a plate or cotton cloth and set out in the sun to dry. The name ‘Killu Vadam‘ comes from this process of pinching the rice dough – ‘pinching’ is referred to as ‘killu‘ in Tamil. These are also called ‘Pazhaya Sadam Vadam’ i.e. ‘leftover rice fritters’.

Sun-dried vadams, vatthal and appalam stay well for quite a few months. They can be deep-fried whenever needed, and make for a beautiful accompaniment to various rice dishes.

I have fond memories of making different kinds of vadam and vatthal along with my mom and grandma, in my summer holidays, back when we were staying in Ahmedabad. For the bub, the lockdown vadam experience was a great learning that she totally loved.

How to make Sadam Killu Vadam

Sadam Killu Vadam is one of the simplest types of vadam there is. It can be put together in just a few minutes, while the sun-drying might take 2-4 days, depending upon the amount of bright sunlight you get. When deep-fried, these vadam are crunchy and absolutely delicious.

The fritters are completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. They are gluten-free as well.

Here is how we make the Sadam Killu Vadam, in our family.

Ingredients (makes roughly 1-1/2 cups of fritters):

1. 1 cup rice
2. Salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon
3. 1 large onion
4. 3-4 green chillies
5. 2 teaspoons roasted cumin, coarsely crushed
6. Oil, as needed for greasing plates + more for deep-frying later

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4

1. Wash 1 cup of rice thoroughly under running water. Let all the water drain out.

2. Take the washed and drained rice in a wide vessel. Add in about 4 cups of water. Place in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or till the rice is fully cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Meanwhile, chop 1 large onion finely.

4. Chop 3-4 green chillies roughly. Grind them coarsely in a small mixer jar.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom right: Step 7, Leftmost bottom: Step 8, Above leftmost bottom: Step 9

5. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, spread out the cooked rice in a large plate. Allow it to cool down fully.

6. To the cooled cooked rice, add salt to taste, the roasted cumin powder and the ground green chillies.

7. Add the chopped onion to the rice too.

8. Mix everything well together.

9. Grease a couple of large plates with some oil. Take small portions of the rice mixture and place them all over the greased plates, keeping a little space between them. You can do the same on a sheet of plastic or a cotton saree too.

10. Place the plate/plastic sheet/saree under the bright sun, best on a rooftop terrace. In a day or two, when the tops of the rice dough has dried up, flip the fritters over. Let them dry completely on the other side too, which may take another 1-2 days. Ensure that the fritters are completely dry before transferring them to a clean, dry, air-tight box for storage.

The sun-dried vadam, ready to be stored

11. Whenever needed, deep fry the fritters. Heat oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce flame to low-medium. Drop a few of the dried fritters into the hot oil. Deep fry on low-medium flame till they brown on the outside and are completely cooked on the inside too. Take care to ensure that the fritters do not burn. Serve the deep-fried fritters with sambar rice, rasam rice, bisi bele bath, lemon rice, puliogare and the likes. 

Tips & Tricks

1. You can use any variety of rice you prefer. I have used Sona Masoori here.

2. In the recipe above, I have pressure cooked fresh rice just to make these Sadam Killu Vadam. You can use leftover rice instead, too.

3. Adjust the quantity of salt, onion, green chillies and cumin as per personal taste preferences.

4. Make sure the rice is completely cool before you start making the Sadam Killu Vadam. This, in case you are using freshly cooked rice.

5. The rice should be well cooked and mushy, for best results, but not too watery. You can even grind the rice in a mixer before adding the rest of the ingredients to it. I haven’t.

6. To make the roasted cumin powder, I dry roast a couple of tablespoons of cumin on medium flame till fragrant, then let them cool down fully and coarsely crush them. I keep this powder in a clean, dry, air-tight box and use it as needed. You can use whole cumin seeds in the Sadam Killu Vadam too, instead of the roasted cumin powder.

7. Some finely chopped coriander can be added to the Sadam Killu Vadam too. Here, I haven’t.

8. Do not overdo the salt. Sometimes the fritters do not taste salty when raw, but the drying and deep-frying concentrates flavours and brings out the salt.

9. Make sure the Sadam Killu Vadam are completely dry, inside and out, before storing them. A good 6-8 hours of bright sunlight a day is needed for the same, for 3-4 days. This is why summers are the best time to make these fritters. If not completely dry, you might find the vadam infested with insects in a short while – they won’t keep well for long in that case.

10. You can check if the fritters are completely dry, by deep-frying a couple of them – they should not be soft in the centre, they should be completely crunchy.

11. You might want to cover the fritters with a net, when they are sun-drying, to protect them from birds, dust and rodents. Make sure you bring them back home every evening, and set them up for sun-drying on the terrace every morning.

12. Make sure you set out very small portions of the rice batter, which are not too thick, for sun-drying. If the fritters are too thick, the centre might stay undried.

13. Completely dried Sadam Killu Vadam can be stored for up to 6 months, in a clean, dry, air-tight box.

14. Make sure you fry the dried Sadam Killu Vadam at low-medium flame. These fritters, if not watched closely, have the tendency to get burnt on the outside while remaining raw in the centre.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

9 thoughts on “Sadam Killu Vadam| Sundried Leftover Rice Fritters

  1. I admire you for not allowing the pandemic to conquer your positivism. I loved these rice fritters. It has memory from my childhood days where the summer protocols of every house had this going in turns.


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