Vada Recipe


Vada (wada, vade or vadai), is a savory treat synonymous with prayers. The donut like form of veda is made with ground Dhal, flavoured with chilli, dhania (coriander), shallots, cumin seeds and chilli. Amma made Vedas only for prayers. She always made Vedas and Gulgulas consecutively. First Gulgulas then Vadas.

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When she made all prayer food-she had strict rules. Rule number one- the house had to be clean before she began cooking. This meant  helping Amma with the chores while she prepared the food. My older sisters had left the nest by then so this usually meant chore duty for me. Rule number two:never taste prayer food before its been prayed with. Amma would never taste any of the food she cooked for prayers. She would sometimes let my siblings and I taste but she always stuck to her rules.

I recall in the early years of my childhood- Amma used the traditional method of grinding Dhal with a grinding stone or she reluctantly borrowed a food processor from a then family member- Amma was most happy when she finally got her own. She would only grind the Dhal in the food processor and chop the herbs and chilli finely by hand.  Amma had added a few modifications to her original Vada recipe over the years-she added a ripened banana which seemed to help bind the Veda mixture as a result of the stickiness of the banana. Amma also added baking powder-she said this helped the Vada ‘pull less oil’.

Since Amma only made Vadas for prayers-whenever she made them she made large quantities knowing how popular they were with everyone in the family. I recall her often using 3 or 4 cups of Dhal. If my older sisters were not present when we did any prayers Amma would always save them a parcel in the freezer. 

To make larger quantities increase all ingredients proportionately.

Ingredients for Vada

  • 1 cup Dhal (soaked overnight)
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • Desired limit of green chillies finely chopped
  • Quarter cup finely chopped shallots
  • Quarter cup finely chopped coriander
  • Teaspoon roasted cumin seeds
  • Medium sized ripe banana
  • Half teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt
  • Oil for frying

Preparations Before You Make Vada:

1.    The Dhal should be soaked overnight.
2.    Use proportionate amounts of water as you do dhal-1 cup water: 1 cup Dhal.
3.    The next morning drain the excess water and pat the Dhal dry removing all moisture this will prevent the mixture from being too weak.
4.    Grind the Dhal in a food processor. I prefer finely ground Dhal but Vada is usually made with  a course texture. If your food processor has difficulty grinding the dhal then add a tablespoon water to assist the process.

 How To Make Vades

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1. Once the Dhal is ground. Add baking powder and salt. Mix. Add cumin seeds.
2. Add chopped coriander, shallots and chillies. Add bananas. Mix until a soft  dough like texture is formed.

3. Just before you shape the vades you can heat the oil in a heavy based pan. Use moderate heat to avoid browning the exterior of the vades before it can be sufficiently cooked on the inside.

How to Shape Vadas

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1. The round donut like shape of the vades is fairly easy to make but can be quite tricky since the consistency of the Vedas mixture is not as pliable as cookie dough. Therefore you will need a few tools to assist:
1.1.    You will then need a bowl with water.
1.2.    A piece of  parchment paper or brown paper or wax paper (lunch wrap).
2. Dip your hand into the bowl of water. Take small piece of dough. Shape into a ball.
3. Place onto the brown paper, press flat then create a hole in the center using your index finger forming the torus shaped vada.
4. Gently place the vades into the pan with oil. Fry on one side for 5 minutes then turn the vades. Keep turning until the vedes are a golden brown color.
5. Place on a rack or tissue paper to drain off excess oil.

© 2011 l


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