You'll hear an extra loud crunch when you bite into this Masala Vada. Also known as dal vada or paruppu vadai, these Karnataka style Vadas can give any junk food a run for its money!
But this masala vada or vadai needs a special hooray! If you love crispy, deep fried food thats so crunchy you can hear it a mile away, you need to try these. They are the king of street food, 5PM snacks and train snacks.
Made primarily with lentils or soaked dal these chana dal vadas pack in a lot of flavour from a few simple spices.
The Main Ingredient - Chana Dal
The primary ingredient is masala vadas is chana dal (split chickpeas). The trick is to soak them for 1.5 hours ONLY. Any longer and the dal will start becoming too soft when ground, making these mushy and not crispy. Chana dal is a staple in most Indian households and has a dense, meaty texture when cooked which makes it so perfect for these chana dal vadas.
The Spice Mix
There are a few pantry spices that add all the flavour to these vadas. The spices should be fresh (not older than 1 year or they'll lose their strength and aroma), and don't need to be roasted. You can use the small jar of the mixer grinder, a coffee grinder or a spice grinder to grind these spices to a coarse powder. You'll notice everything in this recipe is coarsely ground because every element adds crunch and texture. Here are the spices you'll need:
- Whole Cinnamon (dalchini)
- Cumin Seeds (jeera)
- Fennel Seeds (saunf)
- whole dried Red Chillies
Apart from these, we are also going to use fresh mint, fresh curry leaves, chopped onions, ginger garlic paste and turmeric that'll be mixed with the chana dal mixture.
Serve Masala Vada with any of our favourite coconut chutney recipes
Making extra crispy Masala Vada
Here are a few tips and tricks that'll yield the cripest vadais. I tested these so that every bite is crunchy:
Soaking Time for Chana Dal: The optimum time for soaking chana dal is 1.5 hours. Any longer and the dal will become soggy
Grinding Chana Dal: All Indian mixer grinders come with a small spice mixer. Use this for grinding the chana dal only. This jar is specifically for grinding spices, chutneys and podis so you don't need to add any water vs the wet grinder and blender. Don't use any water and grind the chana dal to a coarse mixture. Don't worry if you still have bits of whole chana dal - we want those!
Forming the vadas: Form the vadas into flattened discs that are about ¼ inch in thickness. Any thicker than that, and there's a chance the inside won't cook through properly
Deep Frying Masala Vada: The trick to frying these crispy is to add the vadas to hot oil and not disturb them for a few minutes (2-3 minutes). This helps to cook the outside so that the vadas maintain their shape and don't start breaking while frying. Fry these over medium heat to give them a chance to crisp up all the way through. If the heat is too high, the insides will remain uncooked. These take about 10-12 minutes to fry to a deep golden brown.
Making this vada recipe needs some prep but the method is actually quite effortless. The result is crunchy, crispy masala vadai that keeps you hooked and wanting for more!
Watch the Video
Crispy Masala Vada
- 1 Cup Chana Dal split chickpeas
- 1 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds saunf
- 1 inch Cinnamon
- ¾ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 2 whole Dry Red Chillies
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- ¼ Cup packed Mint finely chopped
- 2-3 Sprigs Curry Leaves chopped
- 1 Green Chilli finely chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- ¼ Teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- Oil for frying
- Wash the chana dal with water 2-3 times till the water starts running clear. Transfer to a bowl and add enough water to fully submerge the chana dal. Soak it for 1 hour 30 minutes, and no longer than that. Once soaked, drain all of the water. Remember to drain as much as possible as excess water will lead to a soggy mix.
- Add all the ingredients mentioned under 'dry masala' in the chutney jar of the mixer. Grind till it becomes a coarse powder. Transfer the masala mix to a bowl and keep aside.
- Add half of the soaked and drained chana dal to the same chutney jar. There is no need to clean the jar. Grind till is becomes a coarse mix, do not grind too much as it will become too loose to make vadas. Its okay if you see a few pieces of whole chana dal. Remove the first batch and transfer to the mixing bowl and repeat the same with the remaining half of the chana dal. Once done, transfer to the mixing bowl.
- Add mint, curry leaves, onions, green chilli, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, salt and the dry masala to the mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix and make sure it is well combined. Shape them into golf ball sized round balls and then flatten them using your palms to make a vada. Remember to tightly shape them so they do not fall apart while frying. Keep aside.
- Use a kadai or a heavy bottomed pan for frying. Pour in about 1.5 inches of oil and allow it to heat up. Add a small piece of the vada mixture to the pan to check if the oil is hot enough. The vada should float to the top; if it sinks that means the oil is not hot enough. If it browns too quickly, it means the oil is too hot. The vada needs to cook on a low flame so the inside gets cooked evenly without the outside browning too much too soon.
- Once the oil is hot, add as many vadas as possible in a single layer. Do not move or turn the vada for 2-3 minutes after adding as they tend to disintegrate. Do not crowd the pan, fry only a few at a time.
- Fry the vadas for 10-12 minutes on a low flame. Use a skimmer to turn them halfway through so they brown evenly on both sides. Remove from pan and place over a kitchen tissue or in a colander to drain the excess oil. Serve hot.