Vada recipe – Learn to make crisp, fluffy & delicious medu vada at home. Garelu, uddina vade, ulundhu vadai & medu vada are the other South Indian names to these round disc shaped fritters. These are one of the very popular South Indian foods served for Breakfast & Snack. Medu vada are most commonly made in traditional South Indian homes. These are also served in hotels & tiffin centers.
What is vada?
Vada is a crispy deep fried savory food made of lentils. Usually they are made by soaking and grinding urad dal (skinned black gram) or chana dal (bengal gram) to batter. Then small portions of this batter is deep fried.
What is medu vada?
Medu vada is a South Indian breakfast fritter made with urad dal, spices and curry leaves. Medu means soft & vada refers to round fritters.
Medu vada is also made during festivals and are offered to the deities. These are mostly made without onions, ginger, pepper & chilies based on the family customs.
We offer these to Goddess Lakshmi and Durga during festivals like Varalakshmi vratam / puja, Gouri puja, Diwali and Durga navratri.
To make the hotel style medu vada, crushed black pepper, green chilies, ginger, cumin seeds, curry leaves and onions are used. Even a pinch of baking soda is used to make them very fluffy. These are also served as sambar vada, where tiffin sambar is poured over them.
Preparation for vada recipe
1. Add 1 cup urad dal to a large bowl and wash it well rubbing with your hand. Rinse it well at least 3 to 4 times & drain the water. This removes the white powdery substance on the urad dal.
2. Add fresh water and soak it for at least 4 to 5 hrs. Soaking them for at least 5 hours makes the batter fluffy and increases in volume. But if you do not have so much time, you can soak for 3 hours but the texture is not the same. If using organic dal you can soak for 8 hours with good results. While the dal soaks, keep about 1 cup of water in the refrigerator to chill.
3. Later discard the water completely from the dal & give a good rinse. Drain the water completely.
4. Add the dal to a grinder or blender jar along with 1/3 teaspoon salt.
5. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice cold water to start off. Blend for a short time about 25 to 30 seconds.
6. Next scrape the sides and the bottom to release the dal that’s stuck.
7. As and when needed sprinkle evenly about only 1 ½ teaspoon water each time. Whether you make in the wet grinder or blender, the process is same. Scrape off the sides and grind again. The batter will be coarse but must be thick. Sprinkle water as needed again.
8. Grind till the batter looks fluffy, thick, lightly aerated and white in color. (like you see in the picture). Ensure your blender does not become warm or hot while you grind as this will give a bitter taste.
Consistency of batter
9. Check if the batter is done correctly. Take a small bowl filled with water. Take little batter and form a ball, drop it in the water. If the consistency & texture of the batter is light, the batter floats well.
The batter will not float if the consistency is very thin. Read the notes below what to do if the batter becomes runny/thin.
10. Transfer the batter to a bowl, beat the batter with your hand in clock wise direction for 30 to 40 seconds. This makes the batter more fluffy and aerated. This is very important. You can skip this step if making the batter in wet grinder.
11. To make the hotel style medu vada, you can add a tiny pinch of baking soda, half teaspoon crushed pepper, 1 to 2 chopped green chilies, 1 tablespoon fine chopped ginger, 1 sprig curry leaves and 2 to 3 tbsps chopped onion or fresh coconut. Since I made these for the puja, I did not add any to half of the batter. To the other half I added everything else but not soda. Mix the batter well.
How to make medu vada
12. On a medium flame, heat oil in a deep pan. Ensure there is enough oil in the kadai so your medu vada floats and fries well.
13. Method 1: Dip your fingers in water (water should not be dripping from your fingers).
14. Take small portions of this batter to your fingers. Make a ball.
15. Slightly flatten the ball with your thumb. Next make a hole in the center. If the batter sticks, dip your thumb in water. If you are new to making medu vada, follow the second method below or practice this a few times before frying. I always make these following the second method.
16. Before sliding the medu vada to the oil, ensure it is hot enough. To check, drop a small portion of batter to it. The batter must rise without browning a lot. This is the right temperature.
17. Method 2: Place the ball on a greased sheet or greased parchment paper. Flatten it slightly and make a hole in the center.
18. Once the oil is hot enough, ensure the flame is to medium. Dip your fingers in water. Please ensure there is no excess water dripping from your hand. Lift the side or corner part of the sheet with your left hand and transfer the medu vada on to your fingers (right hand).
19. Face your palm towards the oil, drop in the hot oil by shaking your fingers gently. Take care. Drop these just by shaking your fingers. Gently slide a few.
20. Fry medu vada on a medium flame till they turn golden & crisp. Towards the end if you like them deep golden, fry them on a slightly higher flame for 2 mins.
21. When done, remove them to a colander. Shape and fry medu vadas in batches till all the batter is used up.
We offer only the plain ones during pooja.
Can I make vada batter without wet grinder?
In hotels & restaurants, medu vada batter is made in wet grinder. This gives the best fluffy texture from inside and crispy texture outside. Most traditional South Indian households too use a wet grinder to make the batter.
But every time I make garelu I use my mixer grinder. I have a very large wet grinder so I rarely use that for grinding. We can make fluffy medu vada even without a wet grinder.
If you intend to try these read all the notes mentioned in this post to get them right.
Notes & tips
- Firstly Do not let the mixer-grinder or the batter to heat up otherwise medu vada can become hard. Sometimes they may even taste bitter.
- If the batter becomes slightly runny, you can mix 1 to 2 tbsps rice flour (at room temperature).Then beat it well to get aerated. If the batter turns to be runny still, I suggest you to make make punugulu
- Other alternates are to use powdered poha or attukulu. Poha works great.
- If you are a beginner make them on a damp cloth, plastic sheet or cling flim and then transfer to the hot oil. Do not make it in your hand or fingers.
- Lastly adding salt later to the batter can thin it down, so make sure you add while grinding.
- Use only very little ice cold water to grind the batter. Using not more than 1 1/2 tsp. at one time, which literally means you have to sprinkle the water evenly.
- If using organic urad dal, you can soak it for 8 hours.
Reasons for hard vadas
- Not soaking dal for at least 4 hours.
- Not grinding the batter well.
- Did not use enough water while grinding or did not aerate the batter well.
If your vadas turn out hard even after you follow all these tips, it means dal is very old stock. Yes vadas made from old stock dal don’t turn out good. Old stocks look very pale yellow in color so avoid using such urad dal.
Vada remains uncooked or over browned
Adding vadas to extremely hot smoky oil will not cook them well from inside. So put on the flame to medium when it is smoky hot.
Vada recipe | Medu vada
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup urad dal (or skinned black gram)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- Ice cold water
- Oil for deep frying
Optional (skip if making for Naivedyam)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper corn (crushed coarsely)
- 2 to 3 green chilies (chopped)
- 4 tablespoon onions (chopped) (1 small)
- 1 sprig curry leaves (chopped)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 teaspoon ginger fine grated
- Wash dal several times and soak in lot of water for at least 4 to 5 hrs.
- Drain the water completely and transfer the dal to a mixer grinder jar. If you have a wet grinder, you can use it.
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons water. Next add salt and start grinding.
- Next scrape off the sides and then grind again. Whenever needed sprinkle only as much as 1 ½ tsps. Ice cold water evenly.
- Again continue to grind to a coarse thick batter. Ensure your grinder does not become hot.
- Sprinkle water. Grind again till the batter looks fluffy and white.
- Transfer this to a bowl. Aerate the batter by beating it with your hand in a clockwise direction for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Test the batter if it is aerated well. Drop a small batter ball in bowl full of water. The ball has to float meaning it is light. This is needed to get fluffy medu vada.
- If the batter doesn’t float well, means either the batter is runny or is not aerated well. Read the notes below to know what to do with runny batter.
- If the batter is in right consistency still it is not floating well. Then beat the batter once more.
- Add crushed pepper, cumin, ginger,scurry leaves, green chilies and onions. Mix everything well.
How to make medu vada
- Heat oil in a deep heavy bottom kadai or pan on a medium heat till hot enough.
- Drop a small amount of batter to check if the oil is hot. The batter raises if the oil is hot enough.
- Dip your fingers in water or oil to moisten your fingers. Water should not be dripping.
- Take small portions of batter. Shape to a ball, slightly flatten with thumb.
- Dip the thumb in water, again no dripping water. Make a hole in the center.
- Gently slide the vada in the hot oil by gently shaking off the fingers.
- Or place the ball on a greased sheet. Flatten it slightly and make a hole in the centre.
- If the oil becomes too hot, regulate the flame to medium.
- Moisten your fingers again. Lift the corner part of the sheet and transfer the vada on to your fingers. Then drop it just by shaking your fingers.
- Fry medu vada till they turn golden on both sides.
- Make them and fry them in batches till you use up all the batter. In between every batch, wait till the oil heats up, if not hot.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- Vada recipe is not for beginners. To try this recipe you must know atleast the basics of deep frying – how to manage deep frying.
- Take care not to use too much water to moisten your fingers. Any water droplets in the oil can cause hot splashes of oil.
- You can also use oil instead of water to grease your fingers before you shape the vadas.
- Sliding vada to oil that is not hot enough can cause splatters.
- The amount of water to use for batter changes with the soaking time and the kind of dal. 6 to 7 tbps water is what I use for organic dal that’s soaked for 5 hours.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
© Swasthi’s Recipes