These are savoury fried snacks, originating from the south of India. They can be described variously as fritters, cutlets, doughnuts, or dumplings. Vadas, as they are known, can be made with different base ingredients and can often contain other vegetables.
This recipe for medu vada is our family recipe for a simple lentil-based vada.
Vadas are served as a breakfast dish or a snack. You would always serve them with a moist side dish and coconut chutney. In our house we usually serve them with sambar. In many places a simple vegetable curry is served.
Vada taste their best straight out of the pan, once the oil has drained. A hot vada, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, dipped into sambar or coconut chutney is both a delight and unforgettable.
Vadas can be used as ingredients in other dishes. I will post a recipe in due course with vadas in a yoghurt sauce, called dahi vada. I will also post a recipe with the Gujerati version made from potato, called batata vada, or potato chop as it was know to the Raj
The recipe below is quite straight-forward, but you must make sure that you grind or blend the paste thoroughly. Whilst leaving some small pieces in the batter won’t spoil the recipe, you should try to get a smooth, fluffy interior.
You need to start this recipe at least the night before to allow the lentils to soak.
Wash the urad dal and soak overnight in five cups of water. When soaked, drain and rinse
Add the salt, green chillies, ginger, black peppercorns and curry leaves to the lentils. Grind into a thick and smooth paste in a food processor adding a little water if needed. Transfer to a bowl.
Whisk mixture to aerate. Test batter by dropping a small piece into water. If it floats it is light enough to continue.
Heat oil for deep frying on a medium flame.
Grease your hand with oil and put two tablespoons of the lentil paste into your hand. Roll into a small ball, then poke a hole in the centre to make into a torus or doughnut shape.
Slide into the hot oil and fry till light golden. Do not crowd the vadas while they cook as they will stick together.
When the vadas turn a golden colour, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. They will take around five minutes to cook.
Serve once oil has drained.