Monday, August 29, 2011

Masaal Vadai

You might be wondering what this "Masaal" vadai is, or whether it's a typo. It's not. It's the way we pronounce this particular dish. Masaal equals Masala. And in this particular spicy fritter, the Masala translates to finely chopped onion, fennel seeds and green and red chilli.

It's one of those comforting fried things that is dangerously addictive. You also have to be in a mood for it and plan the rest of your day around it.  It cannot be rushed. It's a fairly labour intensive process but every bit of energy spent making it is so worth it when it hits your mouth.

Are you drooling yet?  :)

Since my mom is here visiting, I thought it's the perfect opportunity for her to show me how to make them. In South India, they are a very common snack item and are whipped up on the fly by mamis  who can put great chefs to shame. They have no recipe, no measurements. It's all by feel, smell and look.

Yep. That's how they roll. If you're used to this type of cooking, its' hard to fathom.

Earlier this year, my family and I had the most awesomest time at our family friend's place in Calgary and V aunty made these to-die-for masaal vadais that stole the dinner show that night. Never mind there were a half dozen other dishes on the table that day..... She kindly emailed me the recipe she used and mom and I varied it ever so slightly. Thanks aunty for the recipe and to mom for making them!


-  1.5 cups yellow split peas
-  3 Tbsp Urad Dal
-  3 Tbsp Channa Dal
-  3 Tbsp raw rice
-  1" ginger
-  1 medium onion chopped
-  8-10 curry leaves
-  1 tsp fennel seeds
-  Pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
-  2 green serrano chillis
-  3 dried red chillis
-  1/2 chopped cilantro
-  Canola oil to deep fry


1.  Soak the first 4 ingredients in water for 4 hours.

2. Set aside a 1/4 cup soaked dal to be mixed in with the ground batter.

3.  Grind the rest of the soaked mixture , batch by batch, until a coarse consistency is reached.  By coarse, I mean every single piece of dal should not be ground to a paste. I hope the picture gives you a better idea. You want to add very very little water to grind because a loose batter will fail to form patties and you will end up with an oily mess if it's too watery.

You may have to coax your blender to grind by moving the batter around with a spatula. It takes a few minutes so be patient. ;-)

4.  To this ground up dal/rice mixture, add the chopped onion,  chopped cilantro and 1tsp salt and mix in a bowl till evenly combined.  You could add some fennel seeds at this point if you wish.. but not everyone likes the bold flavour of the seeds so it's optional. Also mix in the 1/4 cup of dal set aside in Step 2.

5.  Form little 2" patties and set aside on a  parchment paper

6.  Deep fry on  medium low flame in canola oil  until golden brown. It will take a bit of time but it's important the heat be low and consistent so the the end result is crunchy and delish.

Serve with or without a condiment. I personally can devour these as is. 

But Cilantro Mint chutney goes great with these puppies. 

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