I made these Vadas a couple of weeks ago but am just now getting around to posting. Sorry for the delay- my intention is to post at least once a week! Vadas are a wonderful Indian snack food that have so many possibilities. They can be eaten with spicy chutneys, floated in Rasam, soaked in flavorful yogurt…so many delicious options!
Anyway, here is one of my latest versions of Vada. I normally use a basic recipe from “Dakshin” (one of my go-to books for South Indian recipes). I then make alterations to this recipe by experimenting with different chopped up veggies and adding in other spices. I had a bunch of beet greens and some lovely peppery watercress on hand. I was in the mood for Rasam-Vada and decided to use up my fresh produce in the Vadas. It makes me feel a tiny bit healthier eating fried food that has some extra nutrition added!
I’m not posting the Rasam recipe yet since the Rasam pictured at the end of this post is made from a powder that we buy rather than a purely homemade variety.
Beet Greens & Watercress Vadas
- 2 cups urad dal
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp chili powder / cayenne
- 2 pinches hing/asafoetida
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 cup beet greens (minus the stems), finely chopped
- 1 cup watercress, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- oil for deep-frying
Rinse the urad dal in a strainer, place in a bowl and cover with water to a few inches above the dal. Allow to soak for at least 4 hours at room temp.
Strain the dal and put in a blender (I use a Vita-Mix) or food processor. Fill with water to just below the top of the dal (you can always add more water if it’s too thick). Add cumin seeds, chili powder, hing and salt and blend to a thick paste. Add more water if it isn’t mixing well but be sure not to add too much. You may have to stop the blender and stir it around to make sure that the dal gets blended properly. It is okay to have little pieces of dal in the batter for some texture if you like.
Remove the paste to a bowl and add the chopped beet greens, watercress and cilantro. Mix well and adjust seasonings now.
The batter should be very thick. I’m not sure how to efficiently describe it, but if you form a small ball it will only lose it’s shape a little bit, not flatten out entirely. Or if you try to drop it by the spoonful it falls in chunks, not a stream. If the batter isn’t thick enough, you can make it thicker by adding some rice flour a tablespoon at a time.
Heat the oil to 350F. When the oil is ready you can start frying your Vadas. This is how I do it, though there are other methods. I put my bowl of batter next to the stove. I go to the sink and quickly wet my hands and shake off the excess water. I go back to the batter bowl and grab a golf-ball sized chunk of batter and make it into a round but kind of flattened shape.
I then put my finger in the middle and make a small hole by swishing it around a bit.
I then slide the wet blob into the hot oil. Obviously, be VERY CAREFUL that you don’t get water in the oil or it will pop out at you, possibly causing burns! I then grab another ball of batter and repeat so there are now two Vadas in the oil at once. After making two Vadas I re-wet my hands and start over. Don’t overcrowd your pot or it will slow down the cooking.
Once the Vadas become brown on one side, gently flip them over and fry the other side. Expect each side to fry to approximately 3 minutes. When they are done, remove to your oil draining station.