Medu vada are crisp and fried doughnut shaped fritters made with black gram (urad dal), herbs and spices. These urad dal vada are also known as Garelu in Andhra, Uzhunnu Vada in Kerala, Uddina Vada in Kannada and Medhu Vadai, Ulundu Vadai in Tamil.
Rinse urad dal a couple of times in fresh water. Then soak the lentils for 4 hours or overnight.
Grind or blend the soaked lentils to a smooth batter with water.
If the batter becomes watery, then the instant relief would be to add some semolina or urad dal flour or rice flour to it.
Add all the spices, herbs and salt. Mix well.
Take a bowl of water. Apply some water from the bowl on both your palms. Take some batter in your right hand from the bowl. Give it a round shape by moving it around.
With your thumb make a hole in the center. You can also use banana leaves or zip lock bags to give the medu vada its doughnut shape.
Frying Medu Vada
In a kadai (wok) or pan heat oil for deep frying. Keep the heat to medium.
Once the oil becomes hot, slid the vada gently and carefully into the hot oil.
Shape the batter this way and gently slid them in the oil. Don't overcrowd the kadai or pan with the vada.
Once the vada is slightly golden then gently turn over with a slotted spoon and continue to fry.
Fry them till crisp and golden. The oil should be not very hot, but medium hot. You want the vadas to be cooked from inside. Very hot oil will quickly brown the vadas from outside but they will remain uncooked from inside. Less hot oil will make the medu vada to absorb too much oil. Even if the batter is thin then also the medu vadas will absorb too much oil.
Fry all the medu vada this way till they become evenly browned and crisp.
Drain them on kitchen tissue to remove excess oil.
Serve the medhu vadai, hot or warm with sambar and coconut chutney. It can also be served with other dips like mint chutney, coriander chutney, tomato sauce or onion chutney, tomato chutney etc.
One of the best combination is sambar vada where these medu vadai are dunked in piping hot sambar and served with a side of coconut chutney. This vada sambar meal is finished with steaming hot filter coffee.
Ensure to use fresh urad dal so that you make the best fluffy medu vada. Old or aged urad dal will be difficult to grind or blend and can make for a dense vada. Preferably use unpolished urad dal to make this vada recipe.
Make sure to grind or blend the lentils really well. The batter should be smooth, fluffy and light having the consistency of a whipped cream with soft peaks or like a thick cake batter. There should be no fine grits or chunks of the lentils in the batter.
When making medu vada recipe for any Hindu festival fasting, then don't add onions.
The vada recipe can be scaled to make a larger batch to feed a crowd.
Various herbs and spices can be added to the batter to make the vada more flavorful. Choose from cumin seeds, crushed black pepper, green chillies, crushed coriander seeds, curry leaves, coriander leaves, mint leaves and ginger.