We all love masala vadas and these are my mum’s speciality. I think she makes the best and the smell wafting from the kitchen is very telling of the spice and crunch that is to follow.  You can say they are a bit like falafel in the sense that they are made with 2-3 different kinds of lentils. I have tried making these a few times and until now, they were a flop. The trick is to soak for three hours or so, not grind it too much (pulse a few times) and lastly keep the lentils separate. Follow my tips and you can have mouth-watering vadas at home.

Masala vada


1 cup urad dhal

½ cup channa dhal (split chick peas)

½ cup red lentils

2tbsps finely chopped ginger

2-3 red or green chillies

200g onion chopped

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying


Combine the channa dhal and red lentils. Rinse well and soak for three hours. Rinse the urad dhal well and soak in a separate bowl for three hours.

After soaking, wash well (a sieve works well) and using a food processor, grind the urad dhal with salt. Pulse and try to grind without adding water. If you must add only a spoonful at a time. Remove and set aside.

In the same food processor bowl, grind the channa dhal and lentils along with chillies and ginger. Add salt to taste and pulse. The lentils should be combined and half of them will be left whole and this is okay.

Heat oil to 180 degrees C (or if you add a small piece of lentil, it should spring up to the top immediately) in a kadai or a small sauce pan. Section the urad dhal and lentils mix into three equal portions. In a separate small bowl, combine one section of urad dhal and lentils mix. Mix in a third of your chopped onions.

Masala Vada

Wet the palm of your less dominant hand and shape a small lime sized mix into a patty or vada. You can also use a banana leaf or a plastic sheet instead of your palm. You want them fairly thin – too thick means they will take longer to cook and also won’t be as crunchy. Slide the vada very gently and carefully into the hot oil. Repeat with the remaining. Fry till golden (can take up to two minutes on each side) and serve hot. Makes about 30 medium sized ones.

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