A traditional South Indian Fried Snack: Uzhunnu Vada or Medu Vada

This traditional South Indian Fried Snack with a cup of hot tea in the evening is a pure bliss for South Indians…

Nowadays weekends are all about playing with my niece via video chat. It’s a great feeling to watch her grow up so fast and she has turned into a great entertainer. Every weekend I am amazed to see how she plays new tricks to entertain me. As usual, I had a video chat with my sister and niece this morning, as they signed off I felt some kind of emptiness within. I just wished I could catch the next flight and visit my niece. And I was seen curled up on the couch homesick and nostalgic…

Oh ya, I get this kind of feeling quite often. On such days, I try my best to cheer myself up usually by making the foods that I had enjoyed with my family. Foods that are filled with memories, laughs, comfort and full of life. When I cook such food, I get the feeling that my family has gathered together in my house. So this evening I decided to make a fried snack that could bring back those beautiful memories of my family and hometown.

Uzhunnu vada or Urad dal vada is one of the Kerala’s fried snack specialities. In Kerala, it’s quite a common thing to see people gathered together in the evening and enjoying a cup of tea along with snacks. Uzhunnu vada has been a popular evening snack and it’s still everyone’s favorite.

Urad dal or black gram is first soaked in water and then it’s ground into a coarse paste along with other ingredients. The batter is made into a ball shape and a hole is made in the middle, it’s then deep fried in the oil. Traditional way of making the batter includes the  grinding of urad dal in a stone grinder or stone mortar and pestle. At my grand parents house there was a huge stone grinder and my grandma used to grind the urad dal in that. I used to stand beside her and watch her grinding it with so much enthusiasm and also had tried grinding in it. Believe me, it’s hard to do if you are not used to grinding in it, the stone pestle is really heavy and after a few rounds of grinding in it you’ll feel exhausted. And needless to say grinding in it is a great work out for your hands, you’ll get the well defined biceps 🙂

However, nowadays motor grinder has replaced this heavy olden grinder. So in most of the houses, urad dal is ground in grinder or blender.

Here is a picture of the traditional stone grinder:

Picture courtesy: Google Images.

Trick to make Vada soft:

While making the batter in the traditional stone grinder, the batter gets constantly beaten with the hand while pushing the batter inside the grinder, this results in the formation of air inside the batter which eventually makes the fried vada soft and fluffy. If you had eaten the vada made in the traditional way, you could understand the difference between those made in a motor grinder and in a stone grinder.

Don’t be disappointed, you could still make the soft vada using motor grinder or blender. After grinding the urad dal to a coarse paste, pour the batter into a large bowl. Using your hand, beat the batter and combine well for at least 5 minutes, this will create air inside the batter. And you will get to enjoy soft, fluffy vadas.

Uzhunnu vada is ways accompanied with Sambar or Coconut chutney. This time I made cilantro chutney for the dipping and also made ginger tea. It was heavily snowing outside and inside it was full of warmth: my husband and I enjoyed these vadas and cherished some beautiful memories.

Uzhunnu Vada or Medu VadaIngredients:

  • Urad dal or Skinned Black gram – 1 cup
  • Small onions, chopped small- 5
  • Ginger, minced- 1 inch slice
  • Curry Leaves, chopped- 1 sprig
  • Whole pepper corns- 1/2 tsp
  • Green chili, chopped or (use 1/2 tsp chili powder)- 2
  • Salt- to taste
  • Oil- enough for frying

Instruction

  • Soak the urad dal in water for at least 5 hours or overnight.

  • Grind the soaked urad dal in a food processor or grinder to a coarse paste.
  • Avoid adding water, if it’s hard to grind then add very little water.
  • Pour the batter into a large bowl, beat and combine the batter with your hand for 5 minutes.

  • Add the chopped small onions, ginger, curry leaves, green chilies and whole pepper corns into the batter and combine well.
  • Keep the batter in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

  • Have a plastic small ziploc bag or a plastic sheet ready.
  • Grease the surface of the plastic bag with little oil. This will avoid the batter from sticking on to the surface.
  • Place a handful of batter on it and make a small ball shape out of it.
  • Gently put a hole using your index finger and shape up the sides to round shape.

  • When the oil has heated well, gently peel off the holed batter from the plastic sheet and carefully slide it into the oil.
  • Be very careful while putting the batter into the oil, don’t just throw it into the oil as the oil will splash up.
  • Don’t over crowd the vadas while frying as it will deform its round shape.
  • Fry the vadas flipping to both sides until it turns golden in color.

  • Transfer the vadas to a paper towel.

  • Serve hot with Cilantro chutney or Coconut Chammanthi.

Tips:

  • If the batter is watery, add some rice flour to make it thick.

Cilantro Chutney:

Ingredients:

  • Coconut- 3/4 cup
  • Small onions, chopped- 3
  • Ginger, chopped- 1/2 tbsp
  • Green chili ( or use 1/2 tsp chili powder)- 1
  • Cilantro- 1 handful
  • Curry leaf- 1 sprig
  • Water- little.
  • Tamarind- small slice
  • Salt- to taste

Instruction

  • Combine all the above mentioned ingredients into a smooth paste in a blender or food processor.
  • If you are using a blender, you have to use little water to grind it.
  • Grind it to a thick or slightly watery paste according to your preference.

Ginger Tea: I always want my tea to be flavored either with cardamom or ginger.

Ingredients:

  • Milk- 1 cup
  • Fresh Ginger, grated- 1 tsp
  • Sugar- 1/2 tbsp or according to your needs
  • Ground Tea- 1 tbsp

Instruction

  • Heat the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Add the freshly grated ginger and sugar.
  • When the milk starts to boil, add the ground tea, combine well.
  • Lower the heat and let it stand for a minute so that the color of the tea will darken.
  • Filter the tea using a small sieve into a cup.
  • Serve when it is still hot.
A traditional South Indian Fried Snack: Uzhunnu Vada or Medu Vada
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Indian
 
Uzhunnu Vada or Medu Vada
Ingredients
  • Urad dal or Skinned Black gram - 1 cup
  • Small onions, chopped small- 5
  • Ginger, minced- 1 inch slice
  • Curry Leaves, chopped- 1 sprig
  • Whole pepper corns- ½ tsp
  • Green chili, chopped or (use ½ tsp chili powder)- 2
  • Salt- to taste
  • Oil- enough for frying
Instructions
  1. Soak the urad dal in water for at least 5 hours or overnight.
  2. Grind the soaked urad dal in a food processor or grinder to a coarse paste.
  3. Avoid adding water, if it's hard to grind then add very little water.
  4. Pour the batter into a large bowl, beat and combine the batter with your hand for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped small onions, ginger, curry leaves, green chilies and whole pepper corns into the batter and combine well.
  6. Keep the batter in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  7. Have a plastic small ziploc bag or a plastic sheet ready.
  8. Grease the surface of the plastic bag with little oil. This will avoid the batter from sticking on to the surface.
  9. Place a handful of batter on it and make a small ball shape out of it.
  10. Gently put a hole using your index finger and shape up the sides to round shape.
  11. When the oil has heated well, gently peel off the holed batter from the plastic sheet and carefully slide it into the oil.
  12. Be very careful while putting the batter into the oil, don't just throw it into the oil as the oil will splash up.
  13. Don't over crowd the vadas while frying as it will deform its round shape.
  14. Fry the vadas flipping to both sides until it turns golden in color.
  15. Transfer the vadas to a paper towel.
  16. Serve hot with Cilantro chutney or Coconut Chammanthi.

Cilantro Chutney
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
 
Ingredients
  • Coconut- ¾ cup
  • Small onions, chopped- 3
  • Ginger, chopped- ½ tbsp
  • Green chili ( or use ½ tsp chili powder)- 1
  • Cilantro- 1 handful
  • Curry leaf- 1 sprig
  • Water- little.
  • Tamarind- small slice
  • Salt- to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all the above mentioned ingredients into a smooth paste in a blender or food processor.
  2. If you are using a blender, you have to use little water to grind it.
  3. Grind it to a thick or slightly watery paste according to your preference.

Ginger Tea
Author: 
Recipe type: Tea
Cuisine: Indian
 
Ingredients
  • Milk- 1 cup
  • Fresh Ginger, grated- 1 tsp
  • Sugar- ½ tbsp or according to your needs
  • Ground Tea- 1 tbsp
Instructions
  1. Heat the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the freshly grated ginger and sugar.
  3. When the milk starts to boil, add the ground tea, combine well.
  4. Lower the heat and let it stand for a minute so that the color of the tea will darken.
  5. Filter the tea using a small sieve into a cup.
  6. Serve when it is still hot.