Saturday, August 16, 2014

Recipe of the month: Masala Vada

Wishing all my readers a very happy Krishna Janmashtami 2014!

So, my parents were in town last month for a fleeting visit and I was preoccupied with them the whole time. As might be expected, I haven't had much time to devote to my blog. I didn't take time off work during their visit so every minute after I got back home in the evenings were extremely precious. I did take a day off and there was a public holiday for Eid and of course the weekends but you know how it is with just flies when you are having a good time

As with most mothers, my mom too fusses over what to cook for her kids when they are around. I have a list of favourite dishes that I always ask her to cook for me whether I'm back home in India or she is here in Singapore. This time was no different and I was rattling off different items that I wanted her to prepare each day of the week. Among those dishes, this Masala Vada was one of them. This recipe is actually from one of my best friends mom. Once, a long long time ago, when I had been to her house (which is only two streets away from my home in Mysore), her mom had made these vadas which I really took a liking to. I immediately asked my friend for the recipe and my mom has been making them for me ever since. 

There is something about deep-fried snacks that leaves you yearning for more. These vadas have great flavour which come from the onions, ginger, garlic, chillies and medley of fresh herbs. I just love the herb dill (sabsige soppu in kannada) so these vadas hold extra appeal for me. These vadas are pretty easy to make too. While the chana dal is soaking, you can get all the other prep work done. Grinding the dal without water can be a little cumbersome but if you have a good blender/grinder, it can be a cinch. 

Try this recipe and it may just become your new favourite snack! 

Masala Vada

Preparation time: ~2 hours
Cooking time: 10 min
Serves: 4-5
Recipe category: Snack/South Indian
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe source: Amma (adapted from BFF's mom)


250gm split bengal gram/ chana dal, soaked in water for 2 hours
4-5 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
4-6 pods garlic, peeled and grated/minced
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated/minced
1-inch cinnamon stick, finely pounded
2 cloves, finely pounded
2 medium sized red onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp rice flour
1 bunch fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for frying


1. Drain the water well from the chana dal and blitz coarsely in a blender/grinder without adding water. You don't need the mixture to be too fine. *Refer notes for additional information. 

2. To give you an idea, this is what a bunch each of the herbs looks like. I didn't have the patience to chop the herbs finely so I just threw everything into a chopper.

3. Collect the chana dal mixture in a large bowl. Add in the finely pounded cinnamon and cloves, finely chopped green chillies, grated/minced ginger and garlic, salt to taste, rice flour, finely chopped onions, freshly grated coconut and the finely chopped coriander, mint and dill. Mix all the ingredients together well.

4. Heat oil in a large deep bottomed vessel on medium heat.

5. Shape the chana dal mixture into vadas (like in the pic). Drop them 3-4 at a time into the hot oil and deep fry on both sides till golden brown.

6. Remove the vadas on absorbent paper towels.

7. Serve hot with chutney or sauce. A cup of filter coffee or masala tea on the side won't hurt either! 

  • *You can add the whole garlic pods, ginger, green chillies and spices along with the chana dal in the blender/grinder if you don't want to chop them separately. The reason I don't do that is because sometimes I get coarse chunks of them in the mixture which can be a pain in the butt
  • Remember that you need the vada mixture to be as dry as possible (without any extra moisture) otherwise the vadas will end up soaking up excess oil
  • Make sure that the oil is not hot to the point of smoking. The vadas need to be uniformly browned and cooked through on the inside so medium heat will suffice
  • Some people do not quite like the flavour of dill so you can omit it if that is the case



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