Recipe for Keerai Vadai | Spinach and Herbs Masala Vadai

Recipe for Keerai Vadai | Spinach and Herbs Masala Vadai

You'll find the South Indian vadais at two antipodes of the food spectrum - from crisp, light and a delight to bite into to a heavy, doughy mass and something you'd rather use to injure someone. The medu vadai / vada with its minimal ingredients is a tough one to get right. If you don't get it right, there's nothing much you can do, except may be dunk it into boiling hot rasam and pray to all the food goods that somehow the vadai gets a second chance to be counted as edible. 🙏🏽

Then there's the more exciting paruppu vadai, that is made using split Bengal Gram dal - chana dal. When made for festivals and prasadam (offering in pujas etc.) it is made without the onion-garlic mix and other herbs, using just the soaked dal, asafoetida, chillies and salt.

This one has huge scope for tasty improvisations, and it is reasonably easier to get right as compared to the medu vada. There are numerous variations, and keerai vadai with its plentiful greens is one of my favourites. There's also a Chettinad specialty called 'Vazhapoo vadai' which used the banana flower as an addition. The use of fennel seeds in this recipe gives it a lovely fragrance is a Chettinad touch. When one bites into this, the fennel is what makes your guests ask you, "what's the secret ingredient in this?".

This recipe is from my househelp KV, who is an excellent cook. Her layered parathas are divine, and I can't seem to like tea made by anyone else. While she doesn't cook on a daily basis, she is always happy to pitch in when I am cooking for a crowd.

Recipe for Keerai Vadai | Spinach and Herbs Masala Vadai

Tambrahm Menu Thali

When it was my turn to host the bi-monthly Bloggers' lunch for #thekitchendivas, I drew out a Tambrahm menu, taking care to include items which my fellow bloggers might not have had before. This Keerai (Spinach) vadai was one of them. KV took responsibility for this, while I went about the rest of the cooking. They turned out absolutely delicious. The aromas of coriander, mint, curry leaves, fennel seeds meant they needed no accompanying chutney. She says that you can even add dill leaves as a replacement to one of the herbs listed here for an even more unusual flavour. And don't be shocked at the largish quantity of garlic, frying mellows their flavour considerably and it's not a strong garlicky taste at all

Recipe for Keerai Vadai | Spinach and Herbs Masala Vadai

Keerai Masala Vadai | Recipe for Spinach-Masala Vada

Makes around 35-40 small vadais

Equipment needed

Mixer to grind

Kadai to deep fry

Recipe for Keerai Vadai | Spinach and Herbs Masala VadaiYou'll find the South Indian vadais at two antipodes of the food spectrum - from crisp, light and a delight to bite into to a heavy, doughy mass and something you'd rather use to injure someone. The medu vadai / vada with its minimal ingredients is a tough one to get right. If you don't get it right...

Summary

Rate it!0050
  • Courseappetizer
  • Cuisinesouth indian
  • Yield8 servings 8 serving
  • Cooking Time30 minutesPT0H30M
  • Preparation Time1 hourPT1H0M
  • Total Time1 hour, 30 minutesPT1H30M

Ingredients

Chana dal
250 grams
Asafoetida
1/8 tsp
Grated ginger
1.5 tsps
Garlic, peeled and crushed to a paste
8 cloves
Large onion, finely chopped
1
Green chillies, finely chopped
2-3
Fennel seeds
1 tsp
Spinach leaves (washed, dried)- finely chopped cup
packed 1
Finely chopped coriander leaves
1/4 cup
Finely chopped mint
1/4 cup
Curry leaves, finely chopped
1 sprig
Salt
1.5 tsps
Baking soda
1 pinch
Roughly cooking oil, for deep frying (depends on size of your kadai)
300 ml

Steps

  1. Wash and soak the chana dal in lots of water for 5-6 hours.
  2. Drain well and grind to a coarse paste, without adding any extra water.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients to the paste, mix well.
  4. Keep the oil to heat in a deep heavy bottomed pan / kadai.
  5. Once the oil is hot, you can test by dropping in a small round of dal mix into the oil. It should immediately sizzle, go to the bottom of the kadai, and come straight up to the surface.
  6. On a greased palm or a cling film, pat vadais of around 1.5" diameter and 1/2 inch thickness. As you form each vadai shape drop it along the sides into hot oil.
  7. Allow this to fry on medium heat, for around 4 minutes or so on one side. Once the bottom side turns golden and crisp, you can flip it around and similar fry this side for 3 minutes or so.
  8. Drain on a colander covered with a few layers of kitchen paper / tissues to absorb the excess oil.

Prepare ahead tip:.

You can grind the chana dal and keep it refrigerated overnight. Add the rest of the ingredients just before shaping the vadas and frying, or the onions and greens will release water and make the vada mix soggy.

Deep frying tip:.

Deep fry on medium heat, so that the insides cook as the outside turns golden and crisp.

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