253. crispy and delightful

April 17, 2013mayurisjikoni
Blog post

My dear husband loves any south indian dish. He was missing medu vadas and was wishing he could be in India to have them. He loves the medu vada at the famous Ram Krishna restaurant in Vile Parle (E) Mumbai. The two famous Indian restaurants in Mombasa, Bombay Bistro and Bollywood Bites serve idlis, dosas but no medu vadas. Nunu had bought a medu vada machine (by Anjali) years back from India. Its looks very much like a doughnut machine. She used it a lot but for the past 14 years it was just sitting pretty in my store cupboard. So last week, out came the machine and my hunt for a better medu vada recipe as Nunu’s recipe made the vadas a bit too oily. Discovered that the trick was to not let the batter ferment after grinding it. The more it ferments, the more oily the vadas become. Also most of the medu vada recipes posted used spices and herbs in the batter. Borrowing ideas from various recipes I tried out my hand at vadas. Ajay was a happy man when he found home made medu vadas and is asking me if I am making them this weekend! I tried making the vadas using my hands but couldn’t. So made all the vadas using the machine.

Serves 4 to 6 

For the vadas :
2 cups white urad dal (split white black gram lentils)
¼ cup sooji (semolina)
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp green chilli paste
a pinch of asafoetida
½ cup chopped onion
10 to 12 curry leaves (washed)
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp coarse black pepper powder
1¼ to 1½ cups water (if you are making vadas by hand, use only 1¼ cups of water)

oil for deep frying

For the sambhar :

 cup tuvar dal (split pigeon pea lentils)
6 cups water
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
½ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
1 cup mixed vegetables
1 small brinjal
1 drumstick
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tbsp oil
1 cup thick tomato puree
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
8 to 10 peppercorns
6 cloves
1″ cinnamon stick
1 tbsp urad dal
¼ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jiru) 
1 tsp ginger paste
½ to 1 tsp chilli paste
8 to 10 curry leaves (kari patta)
1 to 1½ tsp salt
pinch of asafoetida
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tsp ready made sambhar masala
2 tbsps chopped fresh coriander
2 tbsps grated jaggery (gur)

For the chutney :

1½ cups fresh grated coconut
1 cup water
½ cup chopped fresh mint and coriander
1 inch ginger piece, remove the skin, and chop
1 to 2 green chilli chopped
1 to 1½ tsp salt
2 tbsps roasted chickpea lentils (chana dal)
2 tbsps roasted urad dal 

For chutney tempering :

1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
a pinch of asafoetida
6 to 8 curry leaves

Preparation of the sambhar :
  1. Wash and soak the tuvar dal in 2 to 2½ cups of water for half an hour.
  2. Put the dal along with the water into a pressure cooker.
  3. Add ½ tsp turmeric powder and ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds. Cover and let the dal cook over medium heat for 3 whistles.
  4. When its cooked, pass it through a sieve to get a smooth consistency.
  5. For mixed vegetables you can take a bit of peas, diced carrots, chopped french beans, chopped cluster beans etc to make up a cup. Cut the brinjal into big chunks. Cut the drumstick into 3″pieces.
  6. Put the dal with the remaining water in a pan. Heat it up. Add salt.
  7. When it begins to simmer, add the vegetables except the onion. Lower the heat and let the vegetables cook in the dal.
  8. To prepare the gravy, heat oil and ghee. Add cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns,urad dal, cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds.  
  9. Add asafoetida and immediately add the onions. Stir fry the onions till it turns light pink in colour.
  10. Add ginger, chilli paste, curry leaves.
  11. Add the remaining turmeric, chilli , coriander cumin and sambhar powders. Stir and add the tomato puree. Add gur if you are using any.
  12. Cook the gravy till it becomes thick.
  13. Add the gravy to the dal mixture. Stir. Let it simmer for a further 20  to 30 minutes. 
  14. Add the tamarind pulp and fresh coriander  and mix well.
Chutney :
  1. Put all the ingredients for the chutney except the tempering ingredients into a liquidizer. Blend till the roasted dals are coarse.
  2. Take out the chutney into a serving bowl.
  3. Heat the oil. Add the tempering ingredients and immediately pour it over the chutney.
  4. Mix well.

Preparation of vadas:

  1. Soak the dal in enough warm water for 4 to 6 hours.
  2. Drain out the water and wash the dal.
  3. Add some of the dal into a liquidizer or a food processor and add a bit of water (from the measured amount).
  4. Liquidize it to get a smooth paste.
  5. Repeat with the remaining dal and water. When the last lot of dal is smoothly ground, add onion, coriander, curry leaves, chillis and ginger. Whizz it for a few seconds.
  6. Add salt, asafoetida and coarse pepper powder to the mixture and whip it for nearly 5 minutes, using a whisk. This procedure will help to incorporate air into the batter. the batter should be thick. 
  7. Heat oil in a deep frying pan, wok or karai over medium heat. Drop a tiny piece of the batter into the oil. If it comes up immediately the oil is ready. 
  8. Fill the machine with the batter and by pressing the knob on top, drop 6 vadas into the oil. Let the underside fry for a few seconds. Flip the vadas over gently and fry till they turn golden brown. Do not fry over high heat as the inside will remain raw. Remove the vadas into a colander.
  9. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  10. If you are making them using your hands, keep a bowl of cold water ready. Dip you hand in the water, take about 2 tablespoonful of the batter and place it on your fingers. Make a hole in the middle and gently put the vada into the oil. (Quite a few youtubes show how to make vadas with your hands).
To serve :
Place 2 to 3 vadas in a deep dish. Pour sambhar over. Add dollops of chutney and enjoy.
Tips :
  • While the dal is soaking, get the sambhar and chutney ready.
  • The vada batter should be thick and smooth.
  • Can also serve vadas with garlic coconut chutney.
  • The vegetables used for the sambhar is just a guideline, use whatever is available.
  • Medu vadas soak up sambhar, so have plenty ready.
  • Medu vadas can be eaten without the sambhar. Pack it for lunch with the chutney.
  • Great party dish as you can keep the sambhar and chutney ready. Just before the guests arrive, prepare the vadas. Heat up the sambhar and you have a piping hot dish for your guests.
You may want to check out the following :
idli sambhar




  • Anonymous

    December 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Could you post a photo of the machine.. just curious to see what it looks like.

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