Vadai is a comfort food for many including me. Every Indian food blogger will have a standard recipe for Ulundu Vadai/ Madhu Vadai making in their repertoire - which works best for them. Most of the recipes call for a soaking time of 1 hour or more and grinding the batter until fluffy. But, my version is slightly different with a focus on how to achieve a crisp and a porous texture. These munchies are perfect for any occasion, be it festival or a tea party.
Dwelling in the past - I am recalling my Hotel Internship Program during my graduation days. An experienced South Indian Chef at the hotel swiftly shaped Vadais and elegantly fried it in style . He saw me watching him and asked me if I would like to try making them. I instantly agreed but could not shape even a single Vadai properly. That is when I understood that it takes time, patience and practice to shape it perfect. As years rolled, I developed interest in learning the nuances in cooking and also learnt to apply Food Science while I cooked.
The recipe source for this post is from my Mother. She is an expert in Vadai making. (both Medhu Vadai/Ulundhu Vadai) and 'Thayir' Vadai (Curd Vadai). I have shared her version here added with some salient points from my side on the do's and dont's of Vadai making.
Points to note to make crisp Vadais:
- Soaking time - Soak Urad Dhal for only 30 mins
- Grinding consistency and time- 7-8 mins of coarse grinding
- Quantity of water - close to 1/4 cup
- Addition of salt - To be added while grinding
- Aerate the batter by beating it few times using your hand. Drop a little in a bowl of water. It should float.
- Once done collect the batter in a bowl .Add chopped curry leaves, coriander, green chillies, pepper corns, onions etc and combine.
- Refrigerate for 10 mins and proceed with frying.
- Always use wet grinder for grinding. It yields a better volume and also aerates the batter to a certain extent.
- Longer soaking time - More water absorbed, Runny batter, Soggy Vadai.
- Don't make the batter too fluffy. It will turn runny midway.
- Adding too much water - Results in a runny batter and soggy Vadai.
- Adding too little water - Results in a stiff batter and a hard, rubbery vadai though you can shape it well.
- Adding salt after grinding - Salt being 'hygroscopic' in nature,pulls out more water from the batter and makes it difficult to shape.
Lets move on to take a quick look at the ingredients:
Preparation Time : 30 mins
Cooking Time : 15 mins
Cooking Level : Medium
Recipe Category: Snack
Cuisine : South Indian
Yields: 15 to 20 Nos
Source : Amma
1 1/4 cup black gram ( use the rice cooker measuring cup)
1 tbsp rice
Compounded Asafoetida ( gooseberry sized)
1 inch piece chopped ginger
5 to 6 Green chilies
Crystal salt to taste
Water ( 1/4 cup)
Oil for frying
Add to the batter
Chopped curry leaves
Chopped coriander leaves
1 tbsp pepper corns
Chopped coconut bits ( optional)
Chopped Onions ( optional)
- Wash and soak whole Blackgram /Urad dhal and rice for 30 mins.
- Drain. Add chopped ginger and green chillies to the dhal.
- Fry the compounded asafoetida in 1 tsp oil until crisp.
- Chop curry leaves, coriander leaves, coconut, onions or whatever you would like to add on.
- Start the wet grinder and first add the Asafoetida. Sprinkle some water and add a fistful of Urad dhal, chillies and ginger pieces.
- Follow by adding more and sprinkle water in between. Add the salt too. Continue to grind by sprinkling water in between until the mixture forms a coarse batter. Should take roughly 8 mins.
- Switch off and collect the batter. Aerate and add all the chopped ingredients. If adding Onions, please add in small batches as it oozes out water.
- Refrigerate batter for 10 mins. Meanwhile, heat oil in a Kadai. Keep the flame medium.
- Once the oil is hot, wet your palm in cold water and take a small portion of the batter in your palm and toss to roll. Punch a hole in the center using your thumb to form a donut.
- Gently drop two to three portions into the oil and fry. This depends on the size of your Kadai.
- Flip them using a skewer and fry the other side until light golden. Do not brown too much as we need a lighter tint for making Dahi Vada.
- Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with Coconut chutney or any fiery dip of your choice. Else, proceed to make Thayir Vadais/ Dahi Vadas.Click here for 'Thayir Vadai'/Dahi Vada recipe.
- I have ground the ginger and chilies along with the Dhal. While doing so, if you prolong the grinding time, the batter may turn bitter. Take care of that. If not,chop and add them to the batter before frying.
- As I always say, adjust the quantity of chilies depending on pungency.
- I always use crystal salt while cooking. It takes time to get a hang of crystal salt measurement. If you are not confident,use table salt .
- Skip adding Onions if you proceed to prepare Thayir Vadais. If you plan to make both , then soak 21/2 cups of Urad Dhal and divide the batter into half and then proceed to add what you want in each lot.