Medu vada (ulundu vadai) is a traditional dish from South Indian cuisine served with coconut chutney and Sambhar as a popular breakfast in most of the Indian restaurants. This crispy deep fried snack is made from urad dal (black gram lentils) and a few basic spices like cumin seeds, black peppercorns, curry leaves and green chillies. The process of making hotel style vadas at home is not difficult once you know the trick to get the perfect consistency of batter.Jump to Recipe
Before making vadas, don’t forget to read the recipe with detailed tips section to make them perfect.
In the Indian cuisine, we have myriad types of vada. They all have different recipes and methods of preparation. The lentils are soaked and then ground to make a batter. In some variations like batata vada the batter is made from dry gram flour rather than whole lentils.
Medu vada is one of my favorite snacks of all time. I loved them as a kid, and they clearly withstand the test of time because they are still one of my most beloved dishes. I love most South Indian snacks because they remind me of my growing up days.
The hero ingredient here is urad dal (skinned black gram), but the herbs and spices also add a savory and spicy quality to these fritters that is absolutely addictive. The hotel-style medu vada also includes onions, which lend a lovely sweetness.
NOTE: If you are making these for kids, you can consider adding extra veggies like grated carrots, shredded cabbage, or grated beetroot to sneak in a little extra nutrition. Hidden vegetables are still vegetables!
I especially like serving the crispy, fluffy medu vada the traditional way: dunked in hot sambar with coconut chutney by the side. This popular, satisfying meal that is also called sambar vada with coconut chutney is very famous all over India. It tastes awesome, so is loved by many.
Whenever I make medu vada, I go the extra length to make sambar. While you’re free to serve them with only coconut chutney, vada sambar is one of those joyful foods that bring up many wonderful memories.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Urad dal – also known as husked black gram, this is the star ingredient of this recipe
- Water – to blend the dal and form the batter
- Spices and Aromatics – curry leaves, chopped green chillies, chopped coriander, black pepper, hing (asafoetida), jeera (cumin seeds) make these vadas really flavourful.
- Rice Flour: Adding 2 tbsp of rice flour can help making vada crispy.
- Moong Dal: Moong dal is totally optional. I like to add 1/4 cup with 1 cup of urad dal. it makes vada soft.
How To Make Medu Vada?
1. Wash and soak urad dal and moong dal for 4 to 5 hours or overnight.
2. Once soaked, place the urad dal in a sieve to drain all the water
3. Add it to a mixer grinder, add a tablespoon of water at a time, and grind it to a smooth paste. I needed approx 4-6 tablespoons of water.
4. You may need a little less or a little more water, but try to use as little water as possible. This entire process can take up to 6-8 minutes. It’s important to keep mixing it with a spatula and grinding.
5. Ensure the mixture is smooth and not grainy. Rub a little bit of the batter between your fingers to judge the consistency. Add 2 tbsp of rice flour into it and mix it well.
6. Mix salt and hing in the ground urad dal and set it aside for ten minutes. The hing acts as baking soda and helps make the batter lighter. Then start whisking the batter with a hand whisk. Place the oil in a kadhai for heating while you whisk the batter. Whisk the ground urad dal until it’s light and fluffy – approximately 5 minutes. You’ll feel the batter becoming airy and fluffier and also getting lighter in colour from a yellow to pale white.
7. Once the batter is whisked, mix in rice flour, jeers, crushed peppercorns and coriander. Add another teaspoon of water if required. Whisk again for a minute or two.
8. To make vadas, dip both your hands in water.
9. Take a large lime-sized amount of batter in your dominant hand (in my case, my right hand) and place it on the palm of the subservient hand (in my case, my left hand).
10. Using the fingers of the dominant hand, form it into a circle and then make a hole in the centre. Dip the dominant hand in the water again, and place the formed vada on the fingertips of the dominant hand.
11. Gently drop the vada in hot oil by turning the hand over the kadhai (close to the oil so the vada doesn’t splash into it) and moving the fingers slightly so the vada slides into the oil.
12. You should see it start to puff up slightly. Cook it on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes till golden brown on both sides. Repeat till all the vadas are fried. Serve hot!
frequently asked questions
- How do I know when my batter is ready? To check the consistency of your batter, you can take a small amount of your batter and drop it in a bowl of water. A light, fluffy batter will float in the water, whereas a thick batter will not. We want our batter to float.
- What if my batter is too runny? If your batter has become too thin, add 1-2 tablespoon of rice flour and beat the batter again to aerate it.
- Why are my vadas greasy? There are two reasons why your vadas are too greasy – the batter is too thin, or your oil is not hot enough. If your oil is not hot enough, the vadas can absorb a lot of oil. Make sure to test your oil temperature before frying. Do this by adding a small drop of the vada in the oil – it should rise to the top, without browning.
- Can the batter be made ahead of time? Yes, up to one day ahead of time – but make sure you keep the batter refrigerated. When you are ready to fry, let the batter come to room temperature first and whip it well to aerate it. You can also keep leftover vadas refrigerated for up to a day and reheat them by crisping them in an oven or airfryer.
- Which oil should I use for frying the vadas? Any neutral oil with a high smoke point will work well for frying vadas. You could use sunflower, groundnut, vegetable, or peanut oil here.