Medu Vada | Pongal Festive Recipe

Medu Vada | Ulunthu Vada ~ South Indian Lentil Fritters


Happy Pongal All! To those familiar with the festival, and the dish ‘pongal‘ itself, these fluffy crispy urad dal fritters, medu vada, are the thing happy childhood memories are often made of… and medu vada has a way of turning simple meals into feasts (a meal that is said to start with vada and end with payasam is what typically defines a South Indian feast). So yeah, seemed like just the recipe to start the year with!


The batch I made today was by far my best, but with vadas — there’s always room to get better. I’d try to grind the batter a wee big longer next time to take it up a notch.. closer to mom’s cloud-like fluffy crispy vadas. But I do not want to wait a year longer to share these with you… so be certain to read through the recipe to get some tips on making the best batch ever of soft, cripy and super yum medu vadas!


Medu Vada | Ulunthu Vada ~ South Indian Lentil Fritters

Makes ~ 24 vadas (varies based on vada size, batter consistency) | Soaking Time: 3-4 hours (or overnight) | Cooking Time: 40 minutes


  1. 2 cups urad dal (whole or split, without skin)
  2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  3. 6-8 curry leaves
  4. 1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
  5. 10 peppercorns, coarsely crushed/ground
  6. 1 tsp ginger, grated/ground
  7. salt to taste
  8. optionally add: green chilies (1-2 chopped fine), onions (1/4 chopped fine)
  9. vegetable or canola oil for deep frying


  • Soak the urad dal for about 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

TIP: Soaking overnight helps the dal absorb lots of water, and hence less water would be needed to make a smooth and fluffy batter.


  • Drain the soaked dal, and grind in a mixer/grinder/food processor with as little water as needed to make a smooth and fairly thick batter (just enough to be able to form vadas).

TIP: I used less than 1/3 cup water, but could have added more in hind sight. Add just a tbsp of water at a time, so you have better control over consistency. Food processor is the preferred option to use minimum water to make the batter.

  • Too much water = hard to shape vadas (can use semolina/rava or urad flour or rice flour to thicken and salvage)
  • Too little water = dense and hard vadas


  • Add the cumin seeds, crushed pepper, ginger, asafoetida, salt and curry leaves to the batter and mix well.

TIP: Beat the batter with your hands a few times to aerate them for soft and crispy vadas.


  • Make donut-shaped vadas with the aid of a plastic wrap/zip-lock bags or just hands dabbed with some water to help the batter not stick as shown in pictures below.


  • Heat oil in a deep pan and test with a drop of batter to see if it’s ready. The batter should rise up to the top right away if ready.
  • Gently drop the vadas (donut-shaped if possible, or simply blobs of batter to make bonda-shaped ones.. no one’s gonna notice after the first bite!) into the oil — just as many as the pan can hold without over crowding.

TIP: Sometimes the vadas get stuck to the bottom of the pan, especially the first batch. Carefully try and pry them out by nudging with the edge of the spoon, and make sure vadas float up soon after you drop them in oil to fry lest they start browning on the bottom.


  • Cook on med-high,flipping once or twice, until golden brown on both sides.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon to drain off excess oil, onto a paper-towel lined plate or bowl.
  • Continue with the rest of the batter to make the remaining vadas.
  • Serve hot with chutney and/or sambar!






One Response to “Medu Vada | Pongal Festive Recipe”
  1. Mangai says:

    Round & Ready To Gobble.

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