Masala Vadai| Spiced Paruppu Vadai

Today’s post is a little nostalgic, a little glum, a little fearful, a little hopeful. It is definitely about a big reality check that all of us need to pay attention to. I’m also sharing our family recipe for Masala Vadai, a monsoon-special delicacy from South India.

I absolutely adore the rains. Rain uplifts my spirits almost immediately. Bangalore becomes all the more beautiful in the rains (yes, waterlogged roads and traffic jams come into the picture too, but I still love it). The heady scent of wet earth, greenery sprouting everywhere, the diffused sunlight peeking through the clouds, the pitter-patter of raindrops – all of it leaves me with a fresh, clean feeling. Life starts anew in the monsoons, and I cannot not be charmed by that. And then, there are the hundreds of delectable monsoon-special foods to think of!

This year, though, there are no signs of a robust monsoon here in Bangalore. It started turning skin-blistering hot in February this year, and a scorching few months followed. The weather definitely started getting cooler in June, but there was no sign of the overcast skies, pleasant drizzles and heavy thunderstorms that usually set foot in Bangalore in April or May. The peacock in my soul has been waiting. Only in the last week or so (in July!) we had the beginnings of rain – cloudy skies in the evenings and a couple of showers. I am eagerly looking forward to the full works that I have come to love Bangalore for. Meanwhile, we had to celebrate the start of monsoon with some Masala Vadai, crispy deep-fried lentil fritters that are a specialty in the South of India.

While we are on the subject of delayed monsoons, I cannot not talk about the acute water crisis that Chennai has been facing for the last few months. It has been disheartening and scary reading media reports about the same. This report about Bangalore’s water situation going the Chennai way scares the living daylights out of me. Ground water in Bangalore (among other Indian cities) has been dipping lower and lower by the year, and there is a huge chance of it running out all too soon. It is time we do something about the situation – or we are going to be left high and dry. As a family, we have been doing our part and I urge all of you to do so, too.

Coming back to the Masala Vadai, they are delicious, delicious things that I just cannot have enough of. Made using coarsely crushed chana dal, jazzed up with onions, fennel, mint, coriander, chillies and curry leaves – these vadais are nothing short of a treat. A simpler version of these vadais is made in South Indian homes on festival days and other auspicious occasions, called Aame Vadai or Paruppu Vadai. I’m presenting an amped-up version here that is just perfect for regular days. Make these as a tea-time snack or when you have guests over, and it’s sure to be a huge hit. It is a great choice for those days when it’s pouring outside and your tastebuds crave for something deep-fried and lovely. ๐Ÿ™‚

Amma makes some mean Aame Vadai and Masala Vadai, a skill that she has passed on to me. I have extremely fond memories of Amma waiting with a plate of these fritters for me to get back home from work on rainy days. She knows I love them to bits, and her care and affection washed away all the woes of commuting home, soaked to the skin, in the midst of a downpour.

These fritters are actually super-easy to make. You need to soak chana dal for a few hours, and once that is taken care of, the rest falls into place fairly quickly. Below is the recipe, with some tips and tricks to get the Masala Vadai perfect. This is an entirely plant-based, vegan recipe. It can easily be made gluten-free too, by skipping the asafoetida used here.

Ingredients (makes about 20 vadais):

  1. 1 cup chana dal
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2-3 generous pinches of asafoetida
  5. 2 green chillies
  6. 2 dry red chillies
  7. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  8. 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  9. 1 big onion
  10. A handful of fresh mint leaves
  11. 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander
  12. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  13. Oil, as needed for deep frying

Method:

1. Wash the chana dal well under running water, a couple of times, draining out the water from it each time. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the chana dal and let it soak, covered, for 3-4 hours.

2. When the chana dal is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Transfer the drained chana dal to a mixer jar.

3. Peel the ginger, chop it roughly and add to the mixer jar. Chop the green chillies and dry red chillies roughly and add them in too. Also add salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida to the mixer jar. Coarsely grind the ingredients together, without adding any water.

4. Take the oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place it on high flame and allow it to heat up.

5. In the meantime, transfer the ground chana dal to a large bowl. Chop the onion, curry leaves and mint finely and add them in. Also add the finely chopped coriander and fennel seeds to the mixing bowl. Mix up the ingredients well.

6. When the oil has heated up fully, reduce the flame to medium. Form 2-3 small patties out of the chana dal mixture we prepared earlier and slide them into the hot oil. Deep fry them on medium flame till brown and crisp on the outside, taking care not to burn them. Shape patties from the entire mixture similarly, and deep fry them in the same way. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. Do not over-soak the chana dal. Soaking for 3-4 hours is good enough.

2. Prepare the masala vadais immediately after you grind the ingredients. Plan out the soaking according to when you want to make the vadais. Frying the vadais long after the batter has been ground often results into them getting very oily.

3. A handful of dill leaves and/or garlic can be added to the Masala Vadais too. I usually don’t.

4. Increase or decrease the quantity of green chillies and dry red chillies you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. Make sure you fry the vadais on a medium flame. This will ensure even frying and delicious vadais.

6. The oil should get nice and hot before you turn down the flame to medium and start frying the vadais.

7. Grind the chana dal coarsely. Don’t make a fine paste, for best results.

8. Do not overcrowd the pan while frying the vadais. Fry them a couple at a time.

9. If you find it difficult to shape the batter into patties, mix in a couple of tablespoons of rice flour. I typically don’t.

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This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am part of. Every Monday, the members of the group share recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

The theme this week is #RimJhimBarse, wherein we are showcasing monsoon-special recipes. The theme was suggested by Preethi, author of Preethi’s Cuisine, a lovely blog with many wonderful recipes from across the globe.

I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #284. The co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

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Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

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23 thoughts on “Masala Vadai| Spiced Paruppu Vadai

  1. Yikes, that water crisis is very scary to read about. But those fritters look delicious โ€“ are they ever served with some kind of sauce, or just on their own?

    1. @Randalle

      Isn’t it? The future is grim, as far as the availability of water is concerned. Yet, people continue to waste it. Sigh!

      Thank you! These fritters are mostly served on their own. Some like them with a simple coconut chutney, while some prefer them with tomato ketchup. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. wishing that yourโ€™s and other cities is blessed with more rains and we get to indulge in treats like this ! Masala vadai on wet, rain-soaked days, is a bliss ! these have been made so well, Priya ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. News of water shortage is really scary. We have to carefull about not to waste water. I love these masala vadai but never tried with mint leaves. Next time I will try with mint. Your masala vadai looks so flavourful crisp and delicious.

      2. @Batter Up With Sujata

        We really need to put our best foot forward, as far as conserving the environment and water is concerned. Hope more people wake up to this before it is too late.

        Thank you so much for the kind words. In the south, mint and/or dill leaves are a common addition to masala vadai. Do try them out this way next time.

  3. I’m sorry about the water situation there, and am hoping this isn’t part of a changing climate cycle – may the monsoons come and do their proper thing. Thanks for this lovely lentil recipe, and for sharing it with the folk at Fiesta Friday.

    1. @goatsandgreens

      Part of the water crisis in India is, indeed, due to the climate changes in the last few years. Global warming has taken its toll on the situation. Hoping things change soon.

      Thank you!

  4. Water crises is indeed scary and many parts of India are facing this problem. I just hope we get enough rains this year. Your Vasai look so good Priya. I make them with coriander leaves though. Will try using mint leaves next time.

  5. Am so sorry to hear about the delayed rain, I hope it will come and be generous but not too much too soon!
    Your fritters, Masala Vadai, sounds delicious! I love the sound of the combination of spices and recipe saved!
    Thank you for sharing it with us at Fiesta Friday! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I just hope people understand the problem of water scarcity and are more conscious about the future generations.These crisp masala vadai is making me nostalgic as it brings so many childhood memories.Love these crisp masala vadai with some hot filter Kapi. And ya Ammaโ€™s recipes are the best.Lovely share Priya.

  7. Loved the addition of mint leaves in Chana Dal Vadas as we call these.. looks so crispy and tempting with a cup of tea.. and yes water shortage is a major concern in many parts of India.. hopefully everyone starts taking some action on individual level too instead of waiting for the government or officials

    1. @FoodTrails

      Individual actions can go a long way towards easing water shortage. I just wish more people realise this, and start doing little things to conserve water on an everyday basis.

      Thank you so much!

  8. We are in water crisis. Thankfully it is raining now and it should continue for sometime. Hot hot vada with cup of coffee is perfect for this rainy season. Vadai looks so delicious

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