Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Masala Vadai

Masala vadai is by far my most favorite vadai of all times.  It is really difficult to mess up and the textures and flavors in each bite are so amazing. 

My mom would make a close cousin of masala vadai for festivals, called aama vadai.  Aama vadai is made without onions or garlic, and is made for several festivals.  I don’t remember her making masala vadai at home.

Masala vadai is most often sold as a street food – on the beach, and my most favorite source – the vadai man near Adyar Bakery.  We used to live in the Adyar area, a really long time ago.  This was early to mid 1980s.  Those days, it was unheard of to eat out regularly or get any food from outside (at least in my house).   We probably ate out once or twice a year!

The vadai man had just started his business around this time and had set up shop in a small alley next to a famous bakery.  You could not pass by his stall without drooling at all the wonderful aromas of keerai vadai and masala vadai!  So, occasionally, when we went out for shopping, we would get off at the big bus terminus in Adyar and stop by this stall to get an assortment of goodies – masala vadai, keerai vadai and milagai bajjis.  What a treat this was!  I think this person is still in business and is still doing extremely well.  

Anyway, my mom was here for three months and left just before Deepavali.  While she was here, we hosted several dinner parties and attended numerous others.   The food at each party was so amazing and different, that I am still recovering from the culinary feast we have been experiencing!

She noticed, however, that no one made masala vadai.  I never thought about it till she mentioned this to me, because there was a point in time, when I would make it often.  I also went back and looked at my blog posts and realized that I had not posted the recipe for this.

We had a Deepavali party last weekend, and so I decided to make this for the potluck.  

Here is what you need:

(makes about 60 vadais)

  • ¾ cup channa dal
  • ¾ cup split green peas
  • ½ cup toor dal
  • ½ cup moong dal
  • ¼ cup urad dal
  • 4 – 6 red chilies
  • 4 – 6 green chilies
  • 1” piece ginger
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • ½ tsp. asafetida (hing)
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. saunf (fennel seeds)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup chopped spinach leaves (optional)
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, chopped (optional)
  • few curry leaves, chopped

Here is how I made it:

  • Soak all the lentils together for a couple of hours.

  • Drain the water out and grind these along with green chilies, red chilies, ginger, garlic, hing, and salt, to a coarse paste, adding little or no water.  I use my food processor to make this batter and don't add any water.

  • Add the saunf, chopped onions, spinach, cilantro, mint, and curry leaves.  Mix well.  I added spinach, but no mint, because I did not have any at home. 
  • Heat oil for deep-frying in a deep pan or kadai.


  • Make lime size balls of the batter, flatten it slightly and gently drop it into the oil.  You can fry 5 - 6 vadas simultaneously.
  • Fry the vadas on medium-low heat, turning them over occasionally, till they are golden brown on both sides.
  • Repeat till all the batter is done.

     Serve hot with chai and chutney of your choice.


  1. First time I get to hear about moong dal as an ingredient of vadai. A very balanced mix of lentils and the vadai looks crispy.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe

    1. Thanks Vibha! I really like this mixture of lentils. Try it out and tell me if you like it.


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