Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cabbage Vada :: Deep fried Lentil Fritters :: South Indian Vada recipe

Right, so the weather has already gone into the transition mode now and it’s raining cats and dogs here since morning. And I can’t think of anything else but a hot cup of tea and some hot deep fried snack along with it. Even the thought is so tempting !

Monsoon is just around the corner and the happy Summers ( my friends in India wouldn’t agree on the “happy” part though ) will be saying Good bye soon. During Monsoon our body craves for salty and greasy stuff. It’s the same everywhere in the world. And that’s why the sale of all those Patties, Hot cross Buns, Vadas, Samosas, Momos etc. go rocket high during this time of the year. No matter how many people turn towards “eating healthy resolution” every year, this craze and crave will never go down, would it ?! 

There must be more than a thousand fried snacks in India itself. From Samoas, and Pakoras to Vadas and Bhajiyas, there is a whole range of these not so healthy finger foods that we enjoy and cherish. I have posted a few of them myself, have a look at this Khasta Daal Kachori, Gol Gappe , Assamese snack Kordoi, Chinese Spring Rolls and Mangalorean snack Goli Bhaji etc.

OK, so Vadas ! The most famous South Indian food item after Idli and Dosa!  Am sure almost half of the population living in North India wouldn’t know any other South Indian items apart from these three which is really a shame since South India has much more to offer. That is of course a two way thing and South Indians don’t know about North Indian food that much either. But that’s a topic for another time, today lets concentrate on Vadas.

What is a Vada?

Vada is a deep fried snack made up of lentil/ pulses of your choice with spices and shredded vegetables. It’s a Protein packed finger food which tastes amazing with a hot Cuppa. But on the  other hand its dense on Fats and hence it’s not advisable to consume it in large quantity.

You can find so many variations in Vadas itself. The type we get in South Indian restaurants is usually Urad Dal vada which is being served with Sambhar or chutney. Then there is Chana Dal Vada, Moong Dal Vada, even Toor Dal Vada. And then there are like 100s of recipes with different ingredients, some with or without curry leaves, onion etc.  I am not a pro in making Vadas yet, and have only tried that for a few of my recipes like this Kuzhambu which is basically just Chana Dal Vadas in Buttermilk gravy. It’s a must try if you haven’t yet.
Anyway, so like I said there is a whole range of Vadas to try, I started with this Cabbage Vada which I was meaning to try for a long time. And they were worth waiting and all the hard work.

This recipe I have used is adopted from here, and is slightly different than the usual Cabbage Vadas since it has a mix of both Chana Dal and Urad Dal. Honestly I think this is a better one than just having Urad Dal since Chana Dal makes it crispy and Urad Dal gives that fluffy and airy texture. So it’s kind of a mix of  both here. Moving on to the recipe now -

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes ( doesn’t include the soaking time )
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 6-8  people
Cuisine:-  South indian
Spice Level:  Moderately hot
Recipe Level:  Medium
Shelf Life: Up to 12 hours at room temperature, up to 2 days in the Fridge
Serving Suggestion: With Chutney, Sambhar, Tea etc. 

Nutritional Facts:- Rich in Proteins, Fiber and Fats  
Recipe Source: Veg Recipes of India

What you need?
  • ½ cup Chana Daal ( Bengal Gram )
  • ½ cup urad dal ( Spilt and husked black gram )
  • 2 cups shredded Cabbage ( Patta Gobhi )
  • 2 tbsp of roasted peanuts – optional
  • 1-2 Green chilies, chopped small
  • ½ inch piece of Ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds/ ( Saunf )
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds ( Jeera )
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder ( Kali mirch powder )
  • A generous pinch of Asafoetida ( Heeng )
  • salt as required
  • oil for deep frying the Vadas

How to make?
  • Rinse both the lentils well, and soak them for at least 4-5 hours or overnight.
  • The next morning, drain them and grind them along with the roasted peanuts to a smooth paste in a mixer with very little water, as less as 3-4 tbsp.
  • Transfer the paste into a mixing bowl, and add in all the spices and shredded cabbage, whisk well
  • In the meanwhile, keep the oil for frying ready in a Frying pan/wok ( Kadhayi). Check if the  oil is ready by dropping a small quantity into the hot oil and if it sizzles and quickly come up the oil is ready for frying. If it takes time to come up, wait for another 2-3 minutes and try again. Once its ready, turn the flame to low-medium and get ready for frying
  • Take Spoonfuls of the Daal batter and fry the Vadas in medium hot oil till golden brown and crisp.
  • Drain the Vadas on paper towels to remove excess oil.
  • Serve immediately while they are hot and crisp with any chutney of your choice like Coriander Spinach chutney or Coconut chutney or you may dip them into Sambar or Rasam and serve warm.

Tips and Notes:
  • I have made these Vadas twice, once following the exact same recipe as above and second time it was with 1 onion added to it. It was equally good both the times, but I will prefer the version with the onion since it brings in that extra crunch and enhances the taste as well.
  • The second time I made them with onions, I skipped the peanuts and didn’t feel that much of difference really. So you may easily skip it if you wish
  • Cumin seeds, Fennel seeds, Ginger and Asafoetida all are added primarily to aid the digestion since deep fried food are hard to digest for our stomach. If you skip any one of these, it wont bring in that much effect on  the taste but surely is good to keep them included in the recipe for the good health sake.
  • This Dates Chutney ( Khajur ki chutney ) I had with the Vadas was so perfect as an accomplishment. Get the recipe for the Dates Chutney here.  
  • You may skip the Cabbage or use any other shredded vegetables like carrot, zucchini etc,, using the same method as above. 
  • Add Salt just before you are going to fry Vadas, and do not keep the batter resting for a long time. 
  • You may add a tbsp of Rice flour in the batter to make these extra crisp
  • USe the leftover Vadas ( if there are any, which is rarely going to happen !), try them in curries like this Chana Dal Vada curry or Chettinad Pakora curry etc. They are really different from the usual North Indian curries. 


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