Here comes the weekend and to me that is the best time to indulge in my favorite hobby – cooking and blogging J This weekend I plan to try out a vegetarian South Indian delicacy - Medu Vadas (Lentil Doughnuts). I like mine dunked in oodles of Sambar (a spicy vegetarian curry) and coconut chutney. Yum!! Simple pleasures of life – right??
As a child, I remember my mom making these for me and the one thing that I admired about her was that whenever there was a unique technique or tip involved with a particular recipe, she would always draw my attention to it and tell me how it was supposed to be done right (little does she know how useful they are to me now).
MeduVada are made up of Urad Dal and the recipe is quite simple but the technique and batter consistency is what makes it slightly tricky to make. Back in those days I was just a spectator and food critic but my mom's lessons seem to have been latently residing in some dormant part of my brain until now, thankfully coming back to me when I needed it most. This reminds me of the movie Limitless (one of my favorites, maybe because I love Bradley Cooper ) where he takes a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product that allows him to tap his full potential and everything that he had seen or heard before comes back to him, helping him to take Wall Street by storm, parlaying a small stake into millions. If you haven’t watched that movie – do add it to your to-do list!
It has been a really long time since I have made these and to create some hype about it, I told my daughter that I was going to make Indian donuts that are not sweet but salty. She seemed to be impressed did eat a couple, though not with Sambar and chutney but rather with one of her favorite condiments – Ketchup :)
2 Cups - Urad Dal /Uzhunnu
1/2 Cup - Shallots/ Kunjulli/ Pearl Onions, chopped
5 - Green chilly
2 sprigs - Curry leaves
1 Tbsp - Black Pepper Corns
2 Tsp - Ginger, grated
Salt to taste
1 pinch - Baking Soda (optional)
Oil to fry
2 Tbsp - Rice flour (if needed)*Refer notes
- Soak Urad dal in water for about 3-4 hours
- Drain the urad dal and transfer it to a food processor/wet grinder or powerful blender and grind it until you get a smooth and fluffy batter. If the batter is too thick for the machine to grind then sprinkle some water. The key to a good vada is to make the batter as thick as possible otherwise you won’t be able to shape them.
- Transfer the batter to a bowl and add grated ginger, green chillies, shallots, curry leaves, whole black pepper corns, a pinch of baking soda, salt and mix well.
- Keep the batter in the fridge for 30 mintues as it helps to make the batter more pliable.
- Heat oil in a kadai/ wok. Drop a small portion of batter into the oil to test if the oil is ready for frying. If the batter sizzles and floats to the top then it is ready.
- Keep a bowl of cold water next to the bowl with batter. Immerse your hands into water. Take a small portion of the batter on your palm. Shape it to form a circle and then make a small hole in the center with your finger. Slide the batter into the hot oil and fry until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Serve hot with Chutney and Sambar
- If the batter is loose it will be difficult to shape the Medu Vadas like donuts/rings. Add 2 tablespoons of rice flour and mix the batter and try to shape them again. *You can add more rice flour to make the consistency right but please note that adding too much rice flour will make Medu Vadas dense and less fluffy.
- Use caution while sliding the batter from your palm into the hot oil.
- To make it kid-friendly (less spicy) – Don’t add the green chilly and peppercorns to the batter initially. Make a few Medu Vadas without them.
- The leftovers can be used for Dahi Vada or Sambar Vada.