Rinse 1 cup urad dal (husked and split or whole black gram) a few times in water. Then soak the lentils in 2.5 to 3 cups water for at least 4 to 5 hours or up to overnight.
Preferably use unpolished urad dal to make this vada recipe
Drain and discard the water. Add the soaked urad dal to a grinder jar. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh water or as needed. Just be sure not to make the batter too thin!
Do not add too much water while grinding. The batter should be like a soft moist dough but yet light and fluffy.
Begin to grind or blend the urad dal to a smooth batter. The batter should be fluffy and thick.
You can grind in two batches or one lot depending on the capacity and size of your blender or mixer-grinder.
Scrape down the sides of the blender as you go to ensure all the lentils gets blended to a uniform consistency.
Continue to grind at intervals by scraping the sides with a spatula. If your mixer or grinder becomes hot, then wait for a few minutes until it cools down.
Continue to grind or blend until you achieve a smooth, fluffy batter. Remember there should be no fine grits or chunks of urad dal in the batter.
Remove the batter into a big bowl or vessel. Then briskly whip with a spatula, spoon or a wired whisk for 2 to 3 minutes. This aerates the batter and gives it a light, fluffy texture.
A quick way to check the perfect and right consistency of the batter is to add a small spoon of it in a bowl of water. The batter should float and remain intact. If it floats and does not get dissolved, then you have achieved the right consistency.
If it sinks, this means that your batter is not fluffy enough (with not enough air bubbles trapped in it) or is too thin.
If the batter is too thin, then add some semolina (fine rava or suji) or urad dal flour or rice flour to it to help thicken it up. Rava or suji also helps in giving a crispy texture to the vada.
Measure and keep all the ingredients ready for making the batter. To the batter, add the following spices and herbs:
1 tablespoon chopped curry leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped green chillies
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 pinch asafoetida
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon lightly crushed black pepper – can use whole peppercorns as well. The addition of black pepper gives a good taste but is optional.
½ teaspoon salt or as required
You can also add ⅓ cup finely chopped onions or shallots; 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves and ¼ cup chopped fresh coconut pieces.
Mix the batter well with the herbs, spices and salt. You do not have to ferment the batter. You can use it right away. Check the taste of the batter and, if needed, add some salt.
Take a bowl of water. Apply some water from the bowl on both your palms. Take some batter in your right palm from the bowl. Give it a round sha12. 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.
TIP: If the batter sticks and you are not able to shape it then add 1 to 2 tablespoons of rice flour to the batter and mix well. This happens if the batter has become slightly thin which means that there is more water in it. pe by moving it in a circular position in the right hand.
Frying Medhu Vadai
In a kadai, heat oil over medium heat. Once the oil becomes hot, slide the medu vada gently into the hot oil. Be careful here! The oil can sputter and pop over quite a distance, so I recommend wearing an apron and long sleeves to protect your skin and clothes.
TIP: If you do not care about the appearance of the doughnut shape of the medu vada, then just drop spoonfuls of the batter directly in the oil.
Once the vada are slightly golden and the batter has firmed up and looks crispy, then gently turn over with a slotted spoon and continue to fry
Remember: oil that is too hot will quickly brown the vadas from the outside, but they will remain uncooked from inside. Oil that isn’t hot enough will make the vada absorb too much oil and become greasy.
Continue to fry the vada, turning over as needed.
Fry the medhu vadai till crisp and golden.
Once the medhu vadai is crisp and golden, then remove with a slotted spoon to drain the extra oil. Fry the rest of vadai in the same manner.
Drain them on kitchen tissues to remove extra oil. This way shape the vada batter and fry them in hot oil.
Serve medu vada hot or warm with sambar and coconut chutney. Enjoy!