These little fried lentil donuts come straight from Sri Lanka! Ulundu vadai are very popular in the South Asian country and locals love it!
Traditionally served as a snack, as an appetizer or even enjoyed at breakfast time, they will gladly add a touch of spice to your weekend brunches. And if you like to surprise your guests, ulundu vadai is for you!
Ulundu vadai, ingredients and history
Ulundu vadai (in Tamil) or medu vada is certainly reminiscent of the American donut with its round shape and hole in the center, but it is completely different whether by the texture or flavor.
Ulundu vadai are savory donuts! Etymologically, the term vada designates spheres of 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Ulundu vadai is part of the culinary tradition of the Tamil people of southern India and Sri Lanka. This dish appeared in the city of Maddur in the state of Karnataka. This street food snack was made popular by Mumbai restaurants.
Ulundu vadai also have other names such as uddina vade, medhu vada, minapa garelu, uzhunnu vada, udid vada, urad vada and ulundu wade. Ulundu vadai are made from special lentils that you will find in Indian grocery stores. Those lentils are called urad dal. They are small black lentils (although they look white in the package) which will be soaked in cold water for 3 hours, then blended finely to obtain a homogeneous dough. Curry leaves, fresh cilantro, green hot pepper and ginger are then incorporated into the dough. The donuts are then shaped, deep-fried and eaten while still warm. Perfect ulundu vadai are golden brown, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are traditionally served with sambar, a vegetable and lentil stew or green hot peppers accompanied by coconut chutney.
Ulundu vadai in the world
Ulundu vadai have multiple variations! Instead of lentils, other vegetables or legumes can be used. When the donuts are prepared with chana-dal (chickpeas), they are called am-vada or aama vadai. In India, in the region of Maharashtra, you will enjoy potato fritters called batata vadai, accompanied by green hot peppers and chutney. Batata vadai are very popular in India and they are a staple of street food. They are typically used to make sandwiches and are then called vada pav.
The consistency of these lentil fritters is similar to the one of Middle Eastern falafels! Falafels are chickpeas (or fava beans) balls that are deep-fried. There is no cumin in ulundu vadai, but instead chopped curry leaves and even green hot pepper for the brave!
How to make perfect lentil donuts
The recipe is very simple if you follow these tips. I recommend that you do not add too much water in your lentils when you blend them. Otherwise, it will be impossible for you to shape the small donuts. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of rice flour to thicken it and let stand in the fridge for an extra half hour.
Also, please make sure that the cooking oil is at the right temperature. If the oil is not hot enough, the donuts will be very hard, and they will sink just like the Titanic to the bottom of your pan. Check the temperature of your cooking oil by immersing a wooden spatula. When small bubbles appear, it’s ready! Drain your warm donuts well on a plate linked with paper towel.
This recipe is validated by our expert in Sri Lankan cuisine, Chef Niza. Chef Niza is the chef-owner of the restaurant Apey Kade in the Los Angeles area.
- 5oz.urad dal or ulutham paruppu without skin(split and flattened Indian white lentils)
- 5scallions, finely chopped
- 2green hot peppers
- 1(2-in) piecefresh ginger
- 3tablespoonschopped cilantro leaves
- 6curry leaves, chopped
- 2pinchesasafoetida powder
- Vegetable oil(for frying)
- Iced water
- Soak the urad dal for 3 hours (not more), at room temperature for 2h30 and in the refrigerator for the last 30 minutes.
- In the bowl of a blender, first add the ginger and the hot peppers and mix. Then gradually add the urad dal.
- Blend for a few minutes to obtain a smooth dough. Add the urad dal little by little, while the mixer is running. Moisten urad dal during mixing. For this, just spray iced water from time to time to prevent the mixer from getting stuck or overheat. This process takes about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer the resulting dough to a large bowl and add all remaining ingredients to this dough. Mix well. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Prepare a large bowl of iced water next to the dough.
- Heat a large oil bath in a nonstick Dutch oven.
- Soak one hand in the bowl of iced water and immediately take a small piece of dough.
- While keeping this piece of dough in the palm of your hand, use the thumb to make a hole in the middle.
- Place the vadai in the hot oil by shaking your fingers slightly to remove it from your hand.
- Renew the operation until all the dough is used.
- Fry over medium heat. Turn vadais and fry until both sides turn golden and crisp.
Filed Under: Appetizer, Asia, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, South Asia, Sri Lanka, Vegan, VegetarianTagged With: asafoetida, chili pepper, cilantro, curry leaf, ginger, lentil, scallion
Vada[vəɽɑː] is a savoury fried snack from India. Different types of vadas can be described variously as fritters, cutlets, doughnuts, or dumplings. Alternative names for this food include wada, vade, vadai, wadeh and bara.
The various types of vadas are made from different ingredients, ranging from legumes (such as medu vada of South India) to potatoes (such as batata vada of West India). They are often eaten as breakfast or snack, and also used in other food preparations (such as dahi vada and vada pav).
According to K. T. Achaya, Vadai (Vada) was popular among ancient Tamils during 100 BCE-300 CE. A type of vada is mentioned as "vataka" in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia compiled by Someshvara III, who ruled from present-day Karnataka. In this recipe, green beans are soaked, de-skinned, and ground to a paste. The paste is shaped into balls and deep-fried. Early literature from present-day Bihar and Uttar Pradesh also mentions bara (vada) and mungaura (a vada made from mung).
Vadas may be made from legumes, sago or potatoes. Commonly used legumes include pigeon pea, chickpea, black gram and green gram. Vegetables and other ingredients are added to improve taste and nutritive value.
For legume-based vadas, the legumes (dal) are soaked with water, and then ground to a batter. The batter is then seasoned with other ingredients, such as cumin seeds, onion, curry leaves (sometimes previously sauteed), salt, chillies and/or black pepper grains. Often ginger and baking soda are added to the seasoning in shops to increase the fluffy texture and improve fermentation for large batches. The mixture is then shaped and deep-fried, resulting in vadas with a crispy skin and fluffy centre. The preparation of kalmi vadas involves cutting the resulting product into pieces and re-frying them.
Vadas are often eaten as snacks or as an accompaniment to another dish. In restaurants, they can be ordered as an à la carte item, but are not the main course. They are preferably eaten freshly fried, while still hot and crunchy. They are served with a variety of dips including sambar, watery or dry chutneys and yogurt (often called "curd" in Indian English).
Medu vadas are typically served along with a main course such as dosa, idli, or pongal. Sambar and coconut chutneys are the standard accompaniments for medu vadas.
The various types of vadas include:
- Medu vada, made with urad dal (black gram) flour. This vada is shaped like a doughnut with a hole in the middle (i.e. an approximate torus). It is the most common vada type throughout South India and the most recognisable throughout India. It is also known as ulundhu vadai, uddina vade, minapa vada (Telugu) and uzhunnu vada.
- Masala vada, made with toor dal (whole lentils) and shaped roughly like a flying saucer. It is also referred to as aamai vadai in Tamil due to its resemblance to a tortoise. Other names include paruppu vadai (Tamil), masala vade (Kannada), masala vada and parippu vada (Malayalam).
- Maddur vade, a type of onion vada unique to the state of Karnataka. It is very popular in the Maddur town of Karnataka and has a very different taste from any other vada types. It is typically larger than other vada types and is flat, crispy (to the point of breaking when flexed) without a hole in the middle. It originally started as a snack at the Maddur railway station on the Bengaluru - Mysuru railway line. Maddur was the halfway mark on this line and most trains would stop there with passengers buying this tasty snack.
- Ambode, made from "split chickpeas without the seed coat" i.e. kadale bele in Kannada.
- Mosaru Vade, made by cooking a vada normally, and then serving the vada in a mix of yogurt and spices.
- Eerulli bajji, also known as uli vada (Malayalam): made with onion. It is roughly round-shaped, and may or may not have a hole in the middle.
- Rava vada, made of semolina.
- Bonda, made with potatoes, garlic and spices coated with lentil paste and fried. In some regions, a bonda is considered a distinct snack food, and is not held to be a type of vada.
- Sabudana vada is another variety of vada popular in Maharashtra, made from pearl sago.
- Thavala vada, a vada made with different types of lentils.
- Keerai vada (spinach vada) is made with spinach-type leaf vegetables along with lentils.
- Batata vada (potato vada). Often served in the form of vada pav, with a bun (known as a pav) and chutney; a common street food in Maharashtra, especially in Mumbai.
- Keema vada, a vada made from minced meat, typically smaller and more crisp than other vada types with no hole in the middle.
- Vada curry or vada sambhar is a gravy dish that is made with prepared vadas blended with a vegetables in a curry or a gravy format
- Bhajani cha vada: a vada made from a flour made from bajri, jawar, wheat, rice, channa dal, cumin, coriander seeds etc. A speciality of Maharashtra, very nutritious too
Masala vada or Parippu Vada