Masala Vada South Indian Recipe to prepare masal vadai, a very popular South Indian snack, especially in Tamil Nadu, is an absolute delight to enjoy during the cold rainy season with a cup of masala tea !! The spices added to the vada give an unique flavour and aroma…that’s just amazing.
Masala vada is like the South Indian version of falafel. It is made completely with chana dal (split bengal gram) and spices. You can find Masala Vada being sold in small stalls at almost every corner of the streets in South India.
What will you find in this post for Masala Vada South Indian Recipe?
You will learn the techniques to grind the batter with the correct texture in order to make the perfectly crispy masal vadai ……the key to a perfect vada.
Though quite simple to make, it can be quite daunting to get the right texture if you do not know the trick. If you add too much water, the batter will be too soft resulting in a soggy vada without crunch and texture to it. If you add too little and you cannot get the shape right and it will disintegrate the moment you drop it in oil.
Read below for tricks in my notes of how to get that perfect crunch!
- The key step to Masala Vada South Indian Recipe is to soak the channa dal for at least 2 and not more than 3 hours. That is the perfect time to get the required moisture.
- Once soaked, remove excess water and place the soaked dal in a colander. Leave it on while you get ready with the rest of the prepping.
- Get your spices ready and add them to the mixer grinder or food processor which has a pulse button. Pulse the spices first and then add the dal. We should only pulse the dal to get the desired texture.
- Pulse the mixture thrice. Only if required just sprinkle a few drops of water. After every pulse, remove the lid and release the lump from the base of your jar using a spoon so as to retain the crumbly texture. Transfer it to a bowl. Follow the below recipe to make the Crispy Masala Vada.
This is one of the many variations to Masala Vada South Indian Recipe. Some recipes call for more ingredients, some less, but this is one my favourite version. I wouldn’t say this is my all time recipe…..I just add ingredients according to my mood and availability….So, add or remove any ingredient to suit your taste and to get the desired flavour!!
Let’s get started with the Masala Vada South Indian Recipe!!
Step-by-Step process for Masala Vada South Indian Recipe:
- Wash chana dal (split bengal gram) with 2-3 exchanges of water.
- Soak the chana dal for at least 3 hours. Drain excess water and leave it in a colander for 10 minutes to remove any excess water.
- In a blender, pulse red chillies, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and garlic cloves to a coarse powder.
- To this add the soaked & drained dal. Grind to a coarse mixture without adding water as far as possible. If you add water, the batter will become too smooth and the vadas will not be crisp. Only if required, that is if your grinder won’t grind, just sprinkle a few drops of water.
- The dal mixture will look like a crumble (picture below).
- Transfer the dal mixture to a bowl and add a tablespoon of rice flour(for extra crunch), finely chopped onions, cilantro, mint leaves, curry leaves, green chillies and salt to taste. Mix well.
Deep-Frying Masala Vada:
- Heat oil in a deep pan over medium heat to smoking point. To check if the oil is hot enough, add a small pinch of batter, if it raises to the surface immediately, then that is the right stage to fry the vadas. Now reduce the heat.
- Wet your hands and remove a walnut size portion of the mixture and press it tight against your fingers to hold it together. Roll it into a ball. It will fall into pieces but keep gripping together to form an intact ball. Place it on one of your palm, wet your fingers again and gently flatten the ball making sure that it does not crack on the top or sides (picture below).
- Gently slide the vada into hot oil. Repeat the process for 3 or 4 vadas. The number of vadas you add to the oil depends on the size of the pan & quantity of oil you heat.
- Increase the heat to medium. Do not touch it till the bottom side is cooked.
- Once done, flip them over and cook the other side.
- Deep fry it in the hot oil until golden brown, takes about 6-8 minutes over medium heat depending on the size.
- Once the vada is golden brown, remove using a slotted spoon on to an absorbent tissue paper.
- Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the mix and deep fry the vadas in batches over medium heat.
- Now the masala vadas are ready to serve!
- Serve masal vadai hot with masala chai or filter coffee.
- You will not require any dip because they are so spicy and delicious as such. But if you wish, you can serve with coconut chutney or tomato sauce.
A Quick Summary:
- 2 Cups chana dal, soaked in water for 2-3 hours
- Make a Coarse Powder:
- 5 Dry Red Chillies
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin seeds
- 1½ Teaspoon Fennel seeds
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- Other Ingredients:
- 1 Tablespoon Rice flour
- 1 Large onion, finely chopped
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- A sprig curry leaves, finely chopped
- Handful of Mint leaves, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- To deep-fry:
- Required Oil to fry
- Pulse the ingredients under the section "Make a Coarse Powder" in a blender to a coarse powder.
- To this drain & add dal. Grind to a coarse mixture without adding water.
- Transfer the dal mixture to a bowl and add ingredients under the section "Other ingredients" & mix well.
- Heat oil in a deep pan over medium heat to smoking point.
- Wet your hands and remove a walnut size portion of the mixture, form a ball and gently flatten it.
- Slide the vada into hot oil. Repeat the process for 3 or 4 vadas.
- Increase the heat to medium, deep fry until golden brown on both sides.
- Drain on to a paper towel.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the mixture.
- Serve masal vadai hot with tea or coffee.
- Make sure to soak dal for at least a minimum of 2 hours or maximum 3 hours, otherwise the masala vadas will turn out to be a little hard.
- Instead of grinding all the soaked lentils, keep a little aside and directly add them to the ground batter. This will add an extra crunch to the vada and also gives a great texture.
- Adjust spice levels with chillies.
- Never miss out onions!! Masal vadai will taste even more delicious if you use baby onions, instead of big onion.
- You can substitute fennel seeds with finely chopped ginger for another variation in case you don’t like the flavour of fennel seeds.
- If case of excess moisture in the batter and you are unable to shape vadas out of the mixture, add a little besan/ chickpea flour to the vada mix, so that it will absorb the excess moisture. Or alternatively grind half the mixture really smooth and the other half coarse and mix it together.
- Don’t add too much rice flour, otherwise the vadas will be very hard.
- Beginners may not comfortable with the above method to shape the vadas. In that case, you can grease a plastic sheet or a plantain leaf, flatten the vadai on it, transfer it to the back side of the perforated ladle and then slip it gently into the hot oil.
- To check if the oil is hot enough to drop the vadas, add a small pinch of batter, if it raises to the surface immediately , then that is the right stage to fry the vadas.
- Do not cook over high heat as the masala vada will brown fast on the outside and still be raw inside.
- Skip onion and garlic if you are preparing for a festival.
More from blog:
Check out all the SNACK RECIPES from blog….and recipes in the similar category like…
- Onion Medu Vada
- Sprouted Moon Pakoda
- Sabudana Vada
- Perugu garelu (Dahi Vada)
- Sweet Corn Oats Masala Vada
- Punugulu with Idli-Dosa batter
- Mint Onion Pakoda
Many more to come!!…..STAY TUNED!!
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Happy Cooking 🙂