Posted on July 8, 2014 by Viji
Who can resist a crispy, fluffy, deep fried yet not so oily snack ever? Made using the highly nutritious “Black Gram/Urad Dal”, Vadai is one of the well loved South Indian snacks. Though they can vary in size and shape, it is traditionally shaped as a doughnut, measuring about 6 cm across, the hole in the center being the defining feature. All the ingredients needed to make vadai are typically available in any South Indian kitchen at any given time and that, I guess, would be one of the reasons why it is so commonly prepared at home. Also, in spite of being deep-fried, it is not oily if we get the consistency of the batter right. Just the thrill of getting the shape right is an absolute reward for attempting to make these!
- 2 cups black gram
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 6-8 green chillies
- 3 sprigs curry leaves
- Salt to taste
- Oil for frying(We use coconut oil)
Clean, wash, and soak the black gram for 2-3 hrs. Drain and grind to a thick, smooth paste. Sprinkle a little bit of water if needed. This is the most important part in this whole process of vadai making. If there is too much water, first, we won’t be able to get the shape for the vadai and second, that will make the vadai very oily. You can always add water if the batter is too thick.
Finely chop the ginger, chillies, and curry leaves and add to the batter along with salt. Mix well. If you do not like to bite into the chillies or ginger, you can grind them with the batter. Adjust these to your liking.
A couple of observations – you can replace the ginger(for people who do not like the taste) with finely chopped onions which will give a nice and soft vadai. You can also replace the ginger with 1/2 tsp of asafoetida powder. A pinch of baking soda added to the batter gets the vadai more crunchy. Whisking with a wooden spoon for a few minutes can make the batter and the vadai more fluffy. I have also noticed that refrigerating the batter for a couple of hours helps getting the shape better. This helps the batter not stick to the fingers. On the other hand, leaving the batter at room temperature makes it ferment which in turn will make the vadai out of shape and quite oily.
Heat enough oil for deep frying. I normally use medium-high heat. Drop a small spoon of the batter into the oil. If it bounces back to the surface immediately, without sticking to the bottom, the oil is ready(about 400° F). On the other hand, if the oil is smoking, switch off the heat and wait for a few seconds. Smoking hot oil will leave the vadai burned on the outside and uncooked on the inside.
Wet the fingers with cold water and scoop a small amount of batter using four fingers. Make a hole in the center of the batter using your thumb. Very carefully, without splattering the oil, slide the batter into the hot oil by gently flipping the hand but keeping the shape. You can practice this by sliding the batter back into the bowl instead of the oil. The number of vadai fried at a time will depend on the size of the pan, the amount of oil and the size of each vadai itself. Lower to medium heat once the batter is dropped into the oil. After a couple of minutes, flip them upside down. Fry on both sides to golden color. Take them out using a strainer and drain the excess oil on an absorbent paper.
Serve hot with coconut chutney. Navya, loves to have them with just the ‘chat masala’ sprinkled all over. If you ask me, they taste the best with a hot cup of coffee!