Crispy Black Gram Dhal Vadas were always my favourite from when I was a little girl. Madurai amma used to make them at home for all important festivals and I used to love to bite in to their crispy exterior and spongy insides!!! I have two maternal uncles living in the north and whenever they would visit us in Chennai, they would go to Balajee Bhavan or Geetha Cafe in Pondy Bazzar in T.Nagar and order for Pongal and Vada for breakfast!!! Steaming hot Venn Pongal, shaped in to a ball, coupled with two crispy vadas on the sides, loftily served with piping hot sambar and thick coconut chutney on the side….YUM….I would give anything to be there right now!!!
When I wanted to make it, at home for Avani Avittam one year, I used my Premier Mixer and tried my hand at the batter. I had to say, I did soak the urad dhal for just 3 hours, and it did come out fried, but it was never crispy and in the shape I wanted it to be. I wanted golden vadas, which were crisp and yet spongy, and not dripping with oil in which it was fried. I tried various methods, adding rice flour, adding rava, fermenting the batter for a bit, adding very less water, using ziploc bags to get the desired shape….and then I hit upon the home truth – GRINDING THE BATTER IN A WET GRINDER!!! Yes, thats really it. And the last few times, I have been enjoying wonderful, crisp, terrific, delicious vadas, way better than the ones in the hotels, as we make at home with the freshest of oils and the best of efforts and devotion. This does not in any way mean that people with mixers cant try this out. The secret is to increase the fluffiness of the urad dhal without adding much water. This end result is best achieved with stone grinder, rather than with a electric mixer, loaded with urad dhal, and little water.
1 cup whole Urad Dhal soaked for 3-4 hours.
8-9 Green Chillies.
Less than 1/4 cup of Water.
1 spoon Salt.
Torn Curry Leaves.
Oil to fry.
Ice Cream Scoop (Optional)
- Take the wet grinder/mixer, wash it and keep it ready for use. Clean the soaked Urad Dhal and remove all the water it was soaked in.
- Switch on the grinder, add the green chillies and 1/8 cp of water and then slowly add the soaked and cleaned urad dhal.
- Add all the urad and let the grinder run for at least 40 minutes.
- In the middle, if you feel that it requires some water, go ahead and sprinkle a few drops. Add salt.
- The secret is to allow it to run for the 40 minutes with as much less as water as needed.
- By now the urad is very softly ground. Remove and store in a container. Add hing, freshly torn curry leaves and mix well. The consistency should look like this.
- Keep sufficient oil in a kadai and allow it to heat. Do not overheat lest the oil should smoke. Keep the flame on medium to medium high.
- If you have an ice cream scoop, put that in a small cup filled with water.
- Wet your left hand, scoop out some batter in the ice cream scoop with your right and pop it in your left hand.
- Wet your right hand and slightly flatten the batter, make a hole in the middle, and drop it slowly in to the oil.
- This is easily achieved ONLY if your batter has minimal water AND your hands are sufficiently wet. The scoop is also made wet, as this aids in easily slipping out the batter on to your hands.
- The scoop is only used to get uniformly shaped vadas. Feel free to scoop with your bare right hand and drop it on your left, if you are comfortable with this.
- The vadas, when they hit the oil, will hiss and start cooking on one side. When its done, turn over to the other.
- When fried to a golden colour, remove from oil and allow to drain on kitchen tissue lining a colander/bowl.
- Repeat and continue until the batter is completed.
- Crispy fried Ulundhu /Urad Dhal Vadas are ready to taste!!!
- The only difference with using the mixer, is that the batter never comes out as fluffy and thick as the ones that go through the grinder. Here you would need to use a spoon of rice flour to thicken it out.
- Ulundhu Vadais/Urad Dhal Vadas can be soaked in Rasam and served as Rasa Vadas.
- Served with hot sambar and garnished with cilantro, it becomes Sambar Vadas.
- Soaked in thick curd/dahi, garnished with a little bit of sweet tamarind chutney, chat masala and boondhi, it becomes yummy Dahi Vadas.
This is my entry for EC’s WYF – Festive Treats event going on at her blogsite.