What Are They?
Masala means a mixture of spices. Vada is an Indian style fried savoury snack. Think of it as something similar to falafel. Other names for it is vadai, vade, wada and wadeh. Back in Malaysia, I've known it as vadai.
There are various types and shapes of vada and the ingredients are also different. Some are made from lentils, others from potato and mixture of spinach leaves, among other spices and herbs.
By all means this is not the authentic recipe that you find from India. For me, this is as close as it gets to the ones that I've been eating all my life in my homeland country Malaysia.
Usually curry leaves are used in this masala vada but since I don't have so much in the freezer (yep, I freeze my curry leaves) so I thought ok, I will use curry powder instead. Curry leaves bring more of a curry aroma than curry taste but I think curry powder works amazing.
Besides, it also means that you don't really need curry leaves to prepare and enjoy this amazing snack. We make do with what we have.
I'm using yellow lentils as the base for this recipe. I've seen others using red lentils but I'd like to stick to the look of vada that I really connect with since I was a kid. The ones made with yellow lentils.
Making vada is easy, really. It does needs a bit of planning ahead as you need to soak the lentils for 4 hours beforehand. This will soften the lentils and make it easier to blend later.
Talking about blending, I like to blend my lentils to a coarse texture. Some prefer it fine and smooth but I like texture of biting into bits of lentils here and there.
I also like to use lots of onion in this masala vada. Though it doesn't really make any difference but I always like to use red onion to give this vada some color.
Talking about color, adding fresh chili, coriander leaves and chili flakes really give it wonderful colors.
Shaping And Frying
What I learnt is don't make it too thick as it wouldn't be cook through in the center when you fry it. What you want to do is first make a ball and then flatten it to 2 cm, not more.
Then simply fry on medium heat until golden brown. We want the center to be cooked through so be patience.
More Finger Food Recipes
- Malaysian savoury pancake bites
- Shrimp pot stickers
- Japanese curry buns
- Crispy beef spring rolls
- Baked chicken curry puffs
Lentil Fritters (Masala Vada)
- 1 cup yellow lentils (200 gr)
- 1 red onion , diced
- 1 red chili , chopped
- ½ cup chopped coriander leaves (15 gr)
- ¾ tsp salt , or to taste
- 1 tbsp chili flakes
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- Soak the lentils in water for 4 hours until soften and then drain the water.
- Put the lentils in a food processor and blend into a semi coarse mixture. Pour the mixture into a bowl together with the rest of the ingredients. Mix until well combined.
- Take some of the mixture and make it into a ball. Then flatten it into a disk. Place on a baking tray with a baking sheet. Repeat until you finish all the mixture.
- Heat a pan with abundance of oil on medium heat. Fry the disks in small batches until golden brown. Remove and place them on a kitchen paper to absorb the oil. Serve warm, enjoy!