Masala vada recipe or chana dal vada – Masala vada is a popular South Indian tea time snack made with chana dal, spices, onions & herbs. It is also a street food & most commonly served in tiffin centers as a evening snack with a chutney. Masala means a mixture of spices & vada is a fried lentil snack. So masala vada translates to a lentil snack made with spices.
Masala vada is made by coarsely grinding soaked chana dal or bengal gram. Then spices, onions & herbs are added to the dough. This dough is then shaped to small disc or patties & deep fried.
Massala vada is also known as chana dal vada in some parts of India. These are crispy, very flavorful & addictive in taste. The street style masala vada is much loved by most south Indians & are enjoyed with a cup of masala tea.
If you are looking for a street style masala vada, then this recipe is absolutely for you. This recipe will yield you flavorful, super delicious & crispy chana dal vada!
Masala vada from the street stalls are very flavorful due to the addition of mint and coarsely crushed spices, especially cinnamon adds a unique aroma to these. This recipe yields chana dal vada that comes very close to the ones served in south Indian street stalls and restaurants.
Tips to make the best masala vada
1.Soak the chana dal just for 2 hours. Chana dal vada made with over soaked dal will not turn out crispy. I usually do it for 1½ hours, drain the dal and then prepare the rest.
2. Do not skip the spices & mint leaves as they are the key to make the vadai flavorful. If you do not have mint you can still make them by adding some coriander leaves but the unique aroma will be missing.
3.If you are making for a festive meal or do not consume onion & garlic. Simply skip them, but do not skip ginger.
4. Blending the chana dal to a coarse and thick consistency is very important. If the dough has lot of moisture then the masala vada will not turn crunchy.
5. Traditionally no flour is added to the masala vadai dough. But by mistake if your dough becomes too soggy with lot of moisture then add little rice flour or powdered poha. Adding rice flour does alter the taste of the chana dal vada and should be used just to fix the consistency.
6. The shape of the masala vada must be flat and slightly on the thinner side. Do not shape them very thick as they will turn fluffy in the center and not taste good.
Masala vada are also prepared during festivals in most South Indian homes. These are usually served alone with tea as a snack or with coconut chutney for breakfast. They can also be served as a part of festive meal. Here is one such meal – lemon rice or puliyogare, curd rice & rava kesari.
Masala vada recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
Ingredients for masala vada
- 1 cup chana dal or bengal gram (or senaga pappu)
- salt as needed
- 1 inch cinnamon or dalchini
- 1 to 2 red chili
- ¾ teaspoon jeera or cumin
- ¾ teaspoon saunf or fennel seeds
- 1 onion chopped (medium sized)
- handful pudina or mint
- 1 sprig curry leaves chopped
- 1 ¼ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (equal proportion)
- 1 to 2 green chilies chopped (skip for kids)
- 1 pinch Turmeric or haldi
- oil for deep frying
How to make the recipe
Preparation for masala vada
- Add chana dal to a bowl and wash it with lot of water a few times.
- Soak it in good amount of water for 2 hours.
- Drain completely.
- Powder cinnamon, red chili, jeera and saunf coarsely in a blender jar.
- Set this aside along with 2 tbsp soaked chana dal.
- Add the drained chana dal & salt to the same blender jar.
- Pulse it a few times until it turns to a coarse mixture.
- The dough must have some uncrushed chana dal. Transfer to a bowl.
- Next add finely chopped mint, curry leaves, onion, masala powder we just made above.
- Also add green chilies and ginger garlic paste. Mix everything well.
- Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Take a handful of the dough & check if it binds well.
- To check make a ball & then flatten it to a masala vada.
- The mixture must have a good binding to shape them to vadas.
- Remove this to your fingers & check if the masala vada is binding well.
- If the mixture doesn't bind well, then take a handful of this mixture and blend to a smooth paste.
- Mix that with the rest of the dough.
How to make masala vada
- Heat oil in a deep pan on a medium flame.
- Divide the dough to 10 parts.
- Make small balls and flatten them on your palm.
- You can also make these on a greased plastic sheet or dry cloth.
- Check if the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small portion to the oil.
- The dough must rise without browning quickly.
- Slide masala vada one by one gently to the hot oil.
- You can add about 3 to 4 vadas in each batch.
- Do not disturb them immediately otherwise they will break.
- On a medium flame deep fry the masala vadas until golden & crisp on both the sides.
- Transfer the masala vadai to a kitchen tissue.
- Fry the rest of them in batches following the same procedure.
- Serve masala vada hot with chutney or ketchup.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
Preparation for masala vada recipe
1. Wash chana dal several times until water runs clear. Soak it in water for 2 hours. Drain off and set aside. Make sure there is no water in the dal. Do not over soak.
2. Add jeera/cumin, saunf (fennel seeds), red chili and cinnamon stick to a blender jar. An inch long cinnamon is good enough i used ceylon cinnamon so used more.
3. Make a slightly coarse powder. Set it aside.
4. Set aside 2 tbsp dal along with spice powder. To the same jar add drained dal, salt and pulse it several times to get a coarse mixture. We also need to have few lentils intact to get the right texture. So pulsing it does the job.
5. To a bowl, add ground dal mixture, chopped onion, chopped pudina/mint and curry leaves, chopped green chilli, chopped onion, ground masala, dal that was set aside and ginger garlic paste.
6. Mix together all the ingredients to get a well binding mixture. To check, take a small portion of the dough and shape to a vada. The mixture should hold shape well and not fall apart.
If it does not bind well, then take only a small portion of this mixture and blend again and then put back to the bowl and mix to check.
7. The easiest way to shape these chana dal vada is to take a small portion of the mixture, make it to a ball. Place it on the left palm, flatten it, then reverse it on the fingers of right hand and drop in hot oil.
Beginners can make these on a foil or cling wrap or on a moist cloth too.
How to make masala vada
8. Heat oil in a pan till hot enough and drop the vadas one after the other. To test if the oil is hot, drop a small portion of the dough. It raises if the oil is hot enough.
9. Fry until golden on both the sides. Drain them on a kitchen tissue.
Serve masala vada with sauce or chutney.