Medu Vada/Gaarelu/Urad Dal Vada/Uddina Vada
Medu Vada is a traditional South Indian dish. It is a deep fried snack made with Urad Dal. Medu Vadas are usually served for breakfast and are also enjoyed as a snack. These crispy vadas are loved by all, and are usually prepared on all festivals and special occasions. Gaarelu(Medu Vadas), Pulihora(Tamarind Rice or Lemon Rice) and Paayasam(A dessert made with milk and vermicelli/rice) are must-have festival dishes in most South Indian homes.
We had a snow forecast for Tuesday, March 14th, and I got an email saying that our local schools would be closed on that day. Consequently, I decided to make medu vada for our breakfast, so my kids can enjoy them. I soaked urad dal on Monday night and made vadas on Tuesday(the snow day). Later in the day, I also posted a short Vada Making video on Facebook and got numerous requests to share the procedure of making these vadas. I had taken step by step pictures while preparing the batter, as I had plans to post the recipe and procedure in my blog later. However, I started drafting the post today itself as I did not want anyone to wait any longer 🙂
Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 160ml
Whole Urad Gota (whole urad without skin) – 2 cups
Salt – 1 & 1/4 Tsp.
Vegetable oil – for deep frying
In a bowl, add 2 cups of urad dal. Rinse it 3-4 times, until the water runs clear. Soak it in a sufficient amount of water. I usually soak the dal overnight and prepare the batter early in the morning.
Grind urad dal in two batches.
Drain the water from the urad dal. Add 1 Tbsp. ice cold water in the wet grinder and turn it on. While it is running add the urad dal(half of the soaked urad dal) and grind it for 3-4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the grinder with a spatula that comes with the wet grinder. After 3-4 minutes the wet grinder slows down(in the speed) because there is not enough moisture to grind the batter.
Tip: Grind only 1 cup of ural dal at a time, and grind it for 15 minutes in a wet grinder. Grinding only a small quantity of dal at a time ensures smooth grinding of the batter. This tip was shared by friend Laxmi.
Now, we need to speed up the wet grinder and run it smoothly. I will share another simple tip that was shared by my friend Laxmi. Add 1/2 Tsp. salt to the batter. The addition of salt works like magic and the wet grinder comes back to the regular speed. After 3 minutes, add one more Tbsp. ice cold water(if needed). Let it run for another 4 minutes.
Finally, add 1 Tbsp. of crushed ice to the batter(Do not add ice cubes, they are too big). This will prevent the batter from heating up. Continue grinding for another 4 minutes. Turn off the wet grinder. Transfer the batter into a bowl. The batter will be thick, and fluffy at the same time. It will also have a slightly coarse texture.
Grind the rest of the soaked urad dal in a similar way.
I used 2 Tbsp. water, 1/2 Tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. crushed ice to grind 1 cup urad dal. I added them gradually and run the wet grinder continuously for 15 minutes. By following this process, I get perfect batter with perfect consistency every single time. You can also add less water for a thicker batter. Adding more than 3 Tbsp. water for 1 cup urad dal will result in a runny batter.
Do not rest the batter after preparing it. The batter starts fermenting and it will absorb lot of oil when deep fried. If you need to rest the batter, then store it in the refrigerator to avoid fermentation. Keep it outside few minutes before you want to make vadas. After keeping the batter outside, let it come to room temperature before you start making vadas.
Add another 1/4 Tsp. salt in the batter and mix the batter with clean hands. The amount of salt can be adjusted according to your taste. Mix the batter for 1-2 minutes to incorporate air in the batter. Wash your hands.
Tip: To check if the batter is airy, take a small portion of the batter and drop it in a bowl filled with water. The batter should float on top. It indicates that the batter is airy and fluffy.
Add the oil in a wide thick bottomed pan. Place the pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot, start making vadas. Take some water in a bowl. Dip your right hand fingers in the water and take a small portion of the batter. Make a round ball and press it gently to flatten it.. Make a small hole in the center with your right thumb. Hold your hand little above the hot oil to gently drop the vada in the pan. Be careful! You can fry 5-6 vadas at a time. Deep fry until they turn golden brown on both sides.
Do not deep fry them on high heat. If you fry vadas on high heat, they will be fried from outside but remain uncooked inside.
I am sharing a small video to help you understand the process better.
Serve them hot with coconut chutney and Tiffin Sambar. You can find the recipe for Tiffin Sambar here.
Notes: I shared a plain version of Medu Vada, but you can add your choice of additional ingredients(listed below) in the medu vada batter to enhance the flavor and taste. I usually add finely chopped fresh ginger, coarsely crushed black pepper, finely chopped green chillies and finely chopped curry leaves. When I make them for my kids, I add finely chopped onions, finely chopped cilantro, and crushed black pepper.
Here is the list of additional ingredients that can be added into the medu vada batter.
Coarsely Crushed black pepper seeds- 7-8
Finely chopped green chillies – 3 or 4
Finely chopped ginger – 1 or 2 Tsp.
Finely chopped curry leaves – 10 or 12
Finely chopped Cilantro – 1 Tsp.
Finely chopped onion – 1/4 cup
Enjoy hot and crispy medu vadas as a breakfast or snack!!!!