Medhu Vadai or Medhu Vada is a popular South Indian savory breakfast or snack item. Medhu Vadai is made of soaked urad dal ground to a light and fluffy batter and seasoned with pepper, green chillies, ginger, onion, coriander and curry leaves and deep fried in oil. This is a recipe, which I learnt from my mom. She makes amazing vadas – huge ones that are crisp from outside and soft from inside just like the ones we get in restaurants.
My rendezvous with Medhu Vadais started when I made them the first time after marriage for Suresh who loves them. I soaked the dal, ground the batter perfectly, added the herbs and spices and started frying them. While I was frying the first batch, all of sudden, there was an explosion in my kitchen. No, not any cracker or bomb variety, it was the vadais that were bursting. Suresh came running to the kitchen. They all started exploding and hit the ceiling. Never ever did we dream that Medhu Vadais could also turn bomb. Suresh and I ran out of the kitchen and waited for the explosion to end. Finally, when the sound ceased, the whole kitchen was in a total mess. The only reminiscence of my vadai making experiment left with the ceiling and floor smeared with oil and half cooked vadai batter. Later on, called up my mom to find what mistake I had done. Then found that I had added rice flour to the batter but did not mix them properly, which led to the explosion. Now, learning the trade of vadai making from my mom, I have picked the tip and tricks to make the perfect crispy vadais.
My family loves Medhu Vadais, especially my son and husband. They love to have Medhu Vadais either plain or dunked in sambar or with coconut chutney. Hence, I always make these vadais for them at least once in a month mostly for breakfast paired either with hotel sambar or coconut chutney. This is one dish which can be transformed into many delectable combos – Medhu Vadai with Sambar and Chutney, Sambar Vadai, Rasam Vadai, Thayir Vadai, Plain Medhu Vadais or Medhu Vadai with Coconut Chutney.
Though I occasionally enjoy munching on these plain Medhu Vadais, I am a big fan of Sambar Vadais. I always ensure that I get my due rights to enjoy my share of these crispy vadais soaked in hotel style sambar garnished with onions and coriander.
Skinned whole white urad dal – 1 cup (200 gms)
Raw rice – 1 ½ tsbps
Onion – 1 medium sized finely chopped
Green chillies – 1 finely chopped
Pepper corns – ¾ tsp whole or coarsely crushed
Ginger – 1” piece finely chopped
Curry leaves – a handful finely chopped
Coriander leaves – few finely chopped
Salt to taste
Water to soak and for grinding
Oil for deep frying
Preparation time – 1 hr 20 mins
Cooking time – 30 mins
Total time – 2 hrs
Yields – 20-22 vadas
- Wash and soak urad dal in water for 45 mins to an hour.
- Drain the water completely. Reserve this water and use it to aid grinding. Transfer the dal along with raw rice (just washed not soaked) to a mixer jar or grinder. Grind the dal and rice to a smooth, light and fluffy batter without adding any water initially. Sprinkle very little water every now and then needed for grinding. Wipe the sides of the grinder or mixer jar while you grind for even grinding. Also, add only minimal water quantity as required. Check for readiness by dropping little batter into a bowl of water. The batter should float and not dissolve or settle down. Now vadai batter is ready.
- Remove the batter to a bowl. Add finely chopped green chilli, ginger, coriander and curry leaves, crushed pepper corns and salt to taste. If using onions, add them too. Mix well using a spatula or your hand.
- Heat oil in a kadai for deep frying; check if the oil is ready for frying by dropping little batter into the oil. The batter should rise.
- For shaping the vadais, you can follow any of the below method. Always keep a bowl of water for wetting your hands every time before shaping the vadais.
Method 1: Wet your hands in water and take a lemon sized ball of the batter using your fingers. Let the ball lie over your four fingers. Using your thumb, make a hole in the center of the ball. While you poke and make a hole, the ball will flatten and be shaped into vadai. With the help of your thumb, gently push and slide the vadai in to the oil.
Method 2: Use a plastic sheet or a banana leaf for shaping the vadais. Take a sheet or leaf (around 5”*5”). Wet the sheet or leaf with water, place the batter over the sheet/leaf, flatten and shape into vadai using your fingers. Also, poke and make a hole in the center. Lift the sheet from one end using your hand. Using your other hand, carefully transfer the vadai to your fingers and slide the vadais gently in to the oil.
Method 3: You can also use clean cloth/hanky to shape the vadais. Take a medium sized bowl and invert it. Wet the cloth/hanky and place it over the inverted bowl. Place lemon sized batter over the cloth/hanky and shape into vadai with a hole in the middle. Once shaped, carefully lift the cloth from one end and invert the cloth by placing your fingers over the shaped vadai. Remove the cloth from over your fingers. With the help of your thumb, push and gently slide the vadai into hot oil.
- Flip the vadais occasionally and fry them till golden brown on both sides. Depending on the size of the kadai and oil used, you can fry 3 to 4 vadais at a time.
- Remove the vadais once the sound and bubbles in oil ceases and they are golden brown. Drain using a paper towel or place them over a colander.
- Repeat the procedure for the rest of the batter. Serve hot with sambar or chutney of your choice.
I served the hot and crispy vadais with sambar. Also, made my favorite Sambar Vadais and enjoyed them thoroughly.
How to make Sambar Vadai with Medhu Vadais?
- Take hot water in a bowl. Soak the vadais in the water for 4-5 mins.
- Finely chop onions and coriander leaves.
- Using two spoons take out the vadai. Hold the vadai in between the spoons and squeeze as much as water possible from the vadai.
- Place the vadais in a serving bowl. Pour hot sambar over the vadais. Sprinkle finely chopped onions and coriander leaves and serve hot.
- Always use good quality whole urad dal for making vadais. Do not store the dal for a longer period and use it. Fresh dal gives more yield when ground.
- You can use a mixie or a grinder for grinding the dal. Using a grinder for grinding the dal yields more batter.
- To aid grinding, add the water used for soaking the dal to the batter. You can also use ice water to sprinkle which would result in even more crispier vadais. You can also keep the soaked dal in the fridge for sometime before grinding.
- If you do not like to bite on the bits of green chilli or ginger, you can coarsely crush the chillies, pepper corns, ginger, curry leaves and coriander and add it to the batter. Use the pulse mode available in your mixie.
- You can skip the pepper corns and use only green chillies.
- For a variation, you can also add finely chopped cabbage to the batter and make vadais.
- If your batter is watery, the vadais might absorb more oil. Depending on the quantity of vadai batter, powder few tablespoons of poha or aval and add to the batter, mix well and then fry the vadais. For above quantity, you can use 3-4 tbsps of poha or aval. Aval helps in absorbing excess of water from the batter.
- While frying, always keep it on medium to medium high flame to ensure even cooking and browning. Do not keep on low or very high flame. Using low flame, the vadais will absorb more oil and high flame will brown the outside and inside might not be cooked.
- Instead of adding raw rice while grinding, you can also add rice flour to the batter.
- Once the batter is made, fry the vadais immediately. Else, refrigerate it until use.