There is nothing more comforting than Vadai - a South Indian savory fritters made with lentils and look alike of doughnuts. They always play a part during all festivals, although they are enjoyed in different other ways. The number of dishes that are made from this basic Vadai is mind boggling - from Sambar Vadai to Rasa Vadai to Thayir Vadai not to talk about some more like Vadakari etc. Variations are bountiful and every one of them is as enjoyed as the next one. But it all starts from this - the most basic of all Vadai's. Although they can be made with holes in the middle most of the time it is not necessary to do so. In my in-laws place, they avoid putting holes when it comes to making these for the festivals (reason unknown) and in my mother's place - they dint even think of putting one (again-reason unknown!) cos they just dint!:) :) But every time we have had guests or friends, they always preferred them with holes and I have been asked how I manage to do one with holes easily when it is supposedly very difficult.Believe me - they are not and after this pictorial - you would think likewise too.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Yields: Makes around 6-10 vadais depending on the size and thickness
  • 1 cup - whole black gram dal (de-husked) ( urad dal)
  • 3-4 green chillies, sliced thinly (or as per taste)
  • 2" ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 Whole Peppercorns
  • Few sprigs Curry Leaves, torn (optional)
  • salt to taste

Wash and soak the lentils for 2-3 hours.

2. Grind it with ginger and salt into a coarse paste. Avoid using any water and only add 1 tsp or so if having trouble grinding it. The trick is to avoid using water as much as possible. You can grind the chillies as well. Or you can add thinly sliced chillies, ginger and peppercorns together to the ground batter along with curry leaves if using.
3. Take a plastic sheet/plate, oil it well with vegetable oil, apply oil/ghee/water to your fingers and make rounds of the batter - small lemon sized and place it on the sheet. If you are trying to make it for the first time, it is advisable to oil your fingers instead of water since while placing the fritters in the oil, the water may cause oil to splutter out.
4. Press the round into flat disc - not thin, using your finger tip, make a small hole in the middle. You can skip making a hole too.
5. Since the plastic is oiled, it will easy to slide it slowly into the hot oil for deep frying. You can either mildly slide it into the oil, or first place it first in your hands and then to oil. Whatever works.
6. The oil must be hot. Once one side is done, the Vadai's will automatically float to the top, turn them over and fry them until golden brown in color. Take care to see that the oil is not too hot nor cold. Too hot, the Vadai's will be done on the outside and not inside. If oil is not hot, Vadai's will be soggy. Make sure that oil is hot first and after dropping the Vadai's, lower down the oil a little.

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By Olive Nelson on Feb 28, 2014

Hi Thanks for the recipe. Perfect shape and sounds delish! Can the medhu vada be frozen?

By Swarna on Jul 31, 2013

Followed your baking steps as in masala vada for medu vada...turned out pretty good for baked version. Thanks for the tips.

By Suppu on Aug 2, 2012

Will soaking the lentils overnight change the final product in terms of quality or taste?

By Thamarai on Sep 21, 2011

Hello! have you tried baking this vadai? I have some vadai maavu leftover and am wondering if its possible to bake it. I dont want to fry it..

By Venkat on Aug 18, 2011

Hi Purvi, You may also leave the batter for a few hours, post grinding to ensure fermentation. This will help in reducing the batter getting locked into each of the balls thus, making it either too chewy/rock-hard . Hope this helps! :) Regards

By Linda on Oct 21, 2010

Hi thank you so much for your recipes can u pls tell me one cup urid dall means how many grms approx ???

By Purvi on Mar 20, 2010

Hi, I tried this recipe yesterday but my vadas turned out chewy in texture instead of crisy - any idea why this could have happened?

It cud be cos of the heat of the oil...was it med hot? If its not of the correct heat, though it might cook well inside it might have the crispy texture....Hope it helps!--DK

By FSM on Feb 24, 2010

Thanks for your post. I am trying to eat healthy and feed my family healthy meals and would like to know if you have ever tried baking these instead of frying. If yes, how long did you bake them for and at what temperature?

No I havent personally tried baking it. I have tried baking Masala Vadai though with good results - May be the same technique might help! Not sure though! --DK

By Sanc on Jan 12, 2010

If I were to use split Urad dhal what would be the quantity? Also what is the yield for the quantity mentioned above? Sanc

Hi Sanc - I think you would use the same amount. This recipe will yeild approx 8-10 Vadas, of course, depending on the size you make --DK

By Sanc on Jan 11, 2010

Hi Divya, Wonderful recipe. I just have a question. i dont have the Indian Mixie or grinder. I got a food processor and a Oster Bender. How can I grind the batter to this thick consistency? Thanks Sanc

Thanks Sanc :) .I may be wrong but I dont think the type of mixie really matters...anything that grinds will grind the batter too well..just plave the ingredients and let it run. Add drop by drop of water only if the processor refuses to run or grind. That should help...--DK

By manisha sheth on Dec 10, 2009

again lovely post. love it. please check out my spicy wada recipe and look forward to hear your comments. thanks, manisha

By propecia on Jun 2, 2009

I want to say - thank you for this!

By Gita's Kitchen on Jan 12, 2009

crispy and perfect looking vadas, it took me quite sometime to make vadai with holes inside them :)

By Gita's Kitchen on Jan 12, 2009

crispy and perfect looking vadas, it took me quite sometime to make vadai with holes inside them :)

By Vanamala on Jan 12, 2009

wow fantastic...looks nice, lovely pics

By rekhas kitchen on Jan 11, 2009

oooh you are most welcome any time DK for puri s Happy pongal to you

By karuna on Jan 11, 2009

these look perfect. i make them for dhai vada so often. but I can never get the hole. I guess the trick is to have a thick batter like urs. mine is a little thin. nice pic by pic demo.

By Curry Leaf on Jan 11, 2009

I love your comment DK.Well, GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE. :D LOL & Take Care

By Anonymous on Jan 11, 2009

yummy vadas...looks perfect... i make these but without holes.... which mixie do u use.. in mine i am not able to grind withot using water...

By Happy cook on Jan 11, 2009

Looks so yumm.
Love the tip of using a plastic foil.
I don't make them often, maybe onece a year as i always say it is so diffficult to make.

By bindiya on Jan 11, 2009

the pictorial is very good, will remember u everytime i make these , now with ur recipe next!

By Sunshinemom on Jan 11, 2009

If anyone needs pongal guidance I will direct them to you, DK!! Simply yum!

By DEESHA on Jan 11, 2009

How much I love these Vadas, We are never actually supposed to make vadas at home, we are kannadigas & in our custom, vadas (the one with holoes )are made only during death ceremonies, that maybe the reason why yr MIL doesnt make that version, even otherwise we are never supposed make vadas at home, while growing up, my neighbours happened to be iyers & how much I devoured the Vadas she made. yumm .. your vadas have come out superd, I loved that tiny hole, I hope I can make this sometime

By Maya on Jan 10, 2009

Looks scrumptious and perfect..

By Curry Leaf on Jan 10, 2009

Mouthwatering and perfect.I skip holes,for the simple reason,I can't do it,it does not work for me at all.Thanks for the plastic technique.Never tried it.

By rekhas kitchen on Jan 10, 2009

superb DK I think you are in a full festive mood every recipe looks so delicious and these vadas ummm looks so tempting

By Pavani on Jan 10, 2009

Those vadai look delicious DK.. Pics are mouth watering..

By Soma on Jan 10, 2009

Those are some neatly made holes. Its freeaing out here, & I am really craving these.. where do u live? :-) Just kidding...