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Vadai – nutritious street food

vadai 3 featured

This is a snack in most indian homes and regularly taken as part of a breakfast item.  It is also a common street food.  It is crisp on the outside and soft inside.

It is very nutritious even though it is deep fried.  Looking deceptively simple but one of the most difficult snacks  to do as the texture varies according to the method used and how the urad dhal is prepared.

I have seen my mum prepare this for us  on a regular basis. I can remember that she laboriously grinds the soaked dhal using a grinding stone.

But once the vadais are fried and put on the table, the vadais will vanish so quickly,   because they are so delicious to eat with a cup of your favourite hot beverage.  And I always get extra vadais as it seems urad dhal strengthens a growing female teenager!

Now in this present day – no way I want to do laborious work.  And I am not that hardworking too  (sorry!)

I have given a lazy version or maybe a short cut way to do it  – pl read my notes below.

There are many variations but these are  the most common recipes.  Some of the variations that I do are as follows:

  1. Add some chopped prawns in the batter and fry  as usual.
  2. Add some chopped French beans or long beans to give a crunch
  3. Add extra chopped onions
  4. Commonly added ingredient is chopped spinach which is  nutritious in protein, iron and vitamin C.

You can use a 3 cm ice cream scoop, drop it in oil and deep fry like cocktail bites. Serve it with a mixture of chilli and tomato sauce.  Insert a cocktail stick into each vadai and viola!, served this way, you bring the simple vadai to another level.  ( It becomes ‘’atas ”  in the local language ( A simple snack served grandly).

Urad Dhal
Urad dhal


1 cup urad dhal – soak for 30 mins

2 tbsp rice flour or semolina

1 large onion – chopped finely

1 green chilly – chopped finely

1 sprig curry leaves – chopped

1 sprig coriander leaves – chopped

1 cm piece ginger – chopped finely

Salt to taste

Oil preferably grapeseed or corn.

vadai 2 [268994]
Chopped onions

  1. Wash and drain the urad dhal,  blend using a food processor or a blender adding very little water till you get a fine ground paste.  Texture should be soft, and fluffy and not too wet.
  2. Once you get this texture, remove and put this batter in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the oil and fold well to combine the ingredients.
  4. Wet your hands, pick up  a lime- sized dough, roll it and  press in the centre of the dough to get the imprint of  a doughnut. ( the shape will depict a mini doughnut)  Gently put the vadai into heated oil. You can do a few at a time depending on the pot you are using to fry them in.
  5. When golden brown, drain the vadai and place on kitchen paper.
  6. Serve hot with fresh green chillies if desired.


vadai 3 [268993]


It is very important to get the consistency of the batter right. Sticky dough means vadai   will be hard,  soft and wet dough means vadai will absorb too much oil while frying.

In Indian homes, we grind the soaked urad dhal carefully using very little water each time to get the fluffy consistency.

To make it easier, you can also use the urad dhal flour  – You whisk it with just enough water till you get the right consistency and texture.  Just ensure it is of good quality.

Adding  the other ingredients is according to your preference – you can omit the curry leaves etc or add more .   Preferable all should be chopped finely.







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