Vada Woes


Growing up in Mumbai, life was a whirl of social activities. There were weddings, engagements, festival gatherings, birthday parties, naming ceremonies to attend and batata vada (potato vada)  was a must have addition to these occasions. It was an all time favorite snack that graced restaurants menus; roadside vendors specializing in it enticed people from all over the city, and advice was solicited by visitors about our favorite vada haunts. Other intruders like sabudana vada, medu vada and dahi vada spared no efforts to claim no. 1 position, but batata vada took them all to cleaners.    

After coming to US where many Indian restaurants serve either South Indian or North Indian cuisine, I realized there were other vadas which could give batata vada a good run for its title.  I first sampled Andhra masala vada at my friend’s house, and when I went for seconds, sadly only few leftover crumbs were in sight. Since then I have been shamelessly competing for the first spot in buffet line to claim my share (and others’) till the day another vada fan gave me and my overflowing plate an evil eye. I reluctantly added masala vada to my ‘to cook’ list; but as always other priorities took over, and my plan to gobble plateful of vadas was obliterated.    

However, this month Susan was hosting her own event My Legume Love Affair 23, and I decided to put my plan into action. My search led me to Sailus’ masala vada recipe, and it seemed apt to also submit my version to Nupur’s Blog Bites #3: Adaptation event.     

The masala vada is traditionally made with chana dal, but my friend had mentioned that often times her mom incorporated other dals too. I decided to go that route; I also had baby spinach on hand and knowing spinach’s affinity to dals, I replaced carrots with spinach.    

I used    

1 cup chana dal (Bengal gram)
½ cup urad dal (skinned split black gram)
½ cup moong dal (split green gram)
1 cup chopped onion
4 green chillies chopped
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 cup chopped spinach
2 tbsp rice flour (optional)    


1. Soak the dals in water anywhere from 2 hours to 8 hours. Soak chana dal separately.
2. Drain the water completely.
3. Keep 2 tablespoons of chana dal  aside.
4. Grind remaining chana dal, urad dal , moong dal, chillies, ginger and garlic into a coarse paste.
5. Add onion, spinach, cilantro, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, garam masala, salt and chana dal and mix.
6. Use rice flour as a binding agent if needed.
7. Heat oil in a small wok or in a kadai.
8. Wet your palms, take a lemon sized ball and flatten between your palms to make a patty.
9. Fry on medium to medium-low heat till golden brown.
10. Serve with ketchup or any chutney of your choice.    

Masala Vada


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3 Responses to Vada Woes

  1. Nupur says:

    These “dal vadas” are my mother’s favorite, one of our neighbors introduced her to the recipe. Your version looks wonderful! Thanks for the entry.

  2. Susan says:

    Thanks for sharing these tasty little morsels for MLLA 23, Shilpa. I’m still eating mash and puddings for the moment, but this is just the kind of dish I want to sink my teeth into when the time comes. They look wonderful.

  3. nithubala says:

    Wow! this is very delicious and crisp Dear..

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