This lentil fritter is a very common South Indian street snack. They are crispy, crunchy, spicy and so very tasty. My father is a big fan of Masala Vada and I cannot miss to think of him every time I make/eat it. He’d definitely feel happy to see me get better making these.
This recipe is my good friend Pradeepa’s. She uses Yellow Split Pea (Pattani Paruppu) instead of Chana Dhal for this recipe and that makes a world of difference to the texture and crunchiness of these fritters. I used to make use of Chana Dhal only until she shared her secret for the yummiest Masala Vadas with me. You can always make use of Chana Dhal for the same recipe, if that is what you have.
1 cup yellow split pea
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2-3 green chilies
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 sprig curry leaves
oil (to deep fry)
Soak split pea in water for a couple of hours. Drain the water completely, wrap in a clean kitchen or paper towel and set aside for an hour or so. Let the towel absorb almost all water from the dhal. This is the key to get very crispy and perfect vadas. Transfer to a blender/mixer, add fennel seeds, chilies, ginger and garlic and grind together until the dhal is coarse. You’ll still see some whole dhal pieces and that is fine.
Transfer to a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Heat oil in a deep frying pan under medium heat. Take a small ball (about the size of half a lemon) of the batter and gently press it between your palms to flatten it. Drop into the oil and fry until they turn golden brown. Make sure the oil is not very hot. With very hot oil, the outside of the vada gets burnt quickly, leaving the inside semi cooked.
You can make 6-8 vadas at a time, depending on the size of your fry pan. Do not overcrowd the pan though. The vadas need some space to get cooked evenly.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Serve warm with some nice hot Chai!