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Vada, also called vadai, wada or vade is a savory snack from the South Indian cuisine. This fritter type South Indian snack can freely vary in size and shape, but in most cases, this snack come in the traditional doughnut shape or disc shake which have a diameter of 5 to 8 cm. The vada recipe includes gram flour and lentil. Sometimes, even potato is used in the vada recipe. Vada is a traditional snack of South India since time immemorial and it is commonly cooked at home. It can also be easily spotted as a common street food in India and Sri Lanka. These savory snacks are a common scene in the Indian railway stations and street stalls.

Ingredients Used and Popular Methods of Preparation of Vada Recipe

The common method of vada preparation includes the making of a dough or a paste with the ingredients like gram flour and/or dal lentils and diced or mashed potatoes. This batter or dough mixture is then seasoned with curry leaves, onion, salt, black mustard seeds and often, previously sautéed black pepper corns and chilies. Sometimes, the vada recipe also calls for the addition of baking soda and ginger, which are added to the batter mixture along with the rest of the seasonings. Then spoonfuls of this vada batter are scooped out and deep fried in the oil in the form of rings or doughnuts. Sometimes, these snacks are covered with a batter of gram flour before frying. Even though this is a deep fried snack, the final product should not be oily ideally if the vada recipe is followed in the correct way. This is because, if cooked correctly, the steam that builds up within the snack will automatically push away all the oil from within the vada. Traditionally, ural and moong daals are used for the batter mixture in the vada recipe. But before that, these daals or lentils are washed and soaked in water for 3 to 4 hours and ground coarsely in a blender. To make the process easier and quicker, most people these days use gram flour with a lesser amount of lentil or daal. To the vada batter mixture, herbs, spices and condiments like onions, green chillies, ginger and baking powder are added and scoops of the batter is deep fried in coconut oil, groundnut oil or mustard oil.

Vada Recipe- Serving Suggestions

Vada is generally served freshly fried when it’s still hot as it tastes best with a crunchy mouth feel. These savory snacks are traditionally accompanied by sambar (a thin and spicy lentil soup with vegetables) and coconut chutney. The vada is best eaten for breakfast as a meal accompanied by sambar or rasam (a variety of sour lentil soup) and a creamy coconut dip.

Popular Variations of Vada Recipe

The vada comes in several variations in South India itself and is also found in similar varieties in different parts of India. Here are some of the popular Indian variations of the vada recipe –

  • Uddina vade – This South Indian vada is made with the flour of Urad daal or black gram and is shaped as a doughnut, resembling a thick ring with a hole in the center. This is the commonest form of vada that is popular throughout South India.
  • Paruppu vadai – The main ingredient of this South Indian snack is toor daal and is prepared with whole lentils, with the snacks shaped in the form of flying saucer. These vadas are also called aamai vadai in Tamil, meaning turtle vada.
  • Maddur vade – This is a unique onion vada made only in Karnataka and is of larger size than most vada types with flat surface and crispy feel.
  • Ambode – This vada recipe calls for the addition of skinless split chickpeas.
  • Dahi Vada – These vadas are served in spiced yoghurt.
  • Erulli bajji/Vengaaya vadai/Pyaz vadan/Malayalam Uli vada – These onion based vadas have a roughly round-shape and may or may not come with a hole in the center.
  • Masala vada – This is a softer and lesser crisp version of the regular vada.
  • Rava vada – These are vadas made with semolina.
  • Vada Pav – An extremely popular street food of Mumbai, vada pav is served inside a bun accompanied by chutney.
  • Bonda/Batata vada – This vada recipe includes garlic, potatoes and spices mixed in a lentil paste and deep fried.
  • Sabudana vada – This Maharashtra snack is made with pearl sago.
  • Thavala vada – This vada uses a combination of lentils.
  • Keerai Vada – This is a savory snack made with spinach or green leafy vegetables and lentils.
  • Keema Vada – A vada made with minced meat with a typically smaller size and no hole in the center.
  • Bhajani Cha Vada – A snack prepared from the flour of wheat, rice, Bajri, Channa daal, Jawar, coriander seeds and cumin.

Health and Nutrition Facts of Vada:

Different vada recipes have different nutritional quotient and health values. Overall these lentil snacks are considered very filling and healthy and carry all the nutrition of lentils, gram flour and the other vegetables and spices used in their preparation. However, if eaten every day, these snacks can lead to fat deposition since these are deep fried snacks.