(South Indian deep-fried lentil fritters)
For a simple and satisfying South Indian treat, try making your own medu vada, delighful lentil dough fritters. These tasty tidbits are traditionally served for breakfast with coconut chutney and sambar, a simple soup. But you can enjoy them any time of the day for a snack.
The particular lentils used for medu vada are called urad dal, black gram, or split black lentils, and they can be found in Indian and many Middle Eastern markets.
Makes about 8 vada
- Urad dal -- 1 cup
- Green chili peppers, seeds removed and chopped -- 2 or 3
- Gingerroot, peeled and chopped -- 1 teaspoon
- Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
- Oil for deep frying
- Place the urad dal in a bowl and add cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Set aside to soak for at least 3 hours or even overnight.
- Drain and rinse the urad dal. Add the drained urad dal to a blender or food processor, along with the chili peppers, ginger and salt. Process until the mixture forms a smooth yet firm dough. It may take a few minutes of processing until the beans are fully broken down. Add a little water, a teaspoon at a time, if necessary to help process along.
- Divide the dough into eight portions, and roll each portion into a ball. Make a hole through the center of each ball with your thumb to form them into doughnut shapes.
- Heat 2 or 3 inches of oil in a wok, kadhai, pot or deep fryer to a temperature of 365°F. Drop a few of the medu vada into the hot oil and deep fry until browned on both sides, flipping from time to time to cook equally.
- Remove the cooked medu vada to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining dough. Serve immediately with sambar and coconut chutney.
Medu Vada Variations
- Batter additions: Add anywhere from 5 to 10 curry leaves to the urad dal when you process it for a sublime flavor boost. Chopped fresh cilantro is a tasty substitute if you can't find curry leaves. Or drop a clove or two of garlic into the blender or food processor along with the other ingredients.
- Baking medu vada: If you're looking to cut back on fat calories, you can bake medu vada instead of deep frying them. Bake them at 400°F on an oiled sheet pan for 20 to 25 minutes. Flip halfway through to brown on both sides. These vada won't puff like the deep-fried version and will be flatter and denser.