November 28, 2011

Keerai Vadai

Vadai is a crispy, savory, deep fried doughnut. Coconut chutney / sambar serves as a perfect side dish. Having brought up in a Tamil Brahmin family, I have seen my mom preparing vadai for every occasion / festival. Even restaurants serve vadai as breakfast, appetizer, evening snacks etc., Kids simply loves vadai - afterall, who doesn't like deep fried items.

Vadai is very challenging when it comes to shape / softness / crispiness. For urad dal vadai, consistency of the batter is the key. If the batter is watery, vadai will get too soggy/oily after frying. If its consistency is thick, vadai comes out very hard.

Last week, since I had some idli batter left at home, I decided to make idli, vadai and onion sambar for the side. My kid likes idli and my hubby likes idli with onion sambar. And, both of them love vadai. Since, there was no veggie of any sort for lunch, I decided to make keerai vadai (vadai with spinach).

My daughter usually creates a big fuss to eat spinach when I prepare keerai masiyal, where as she seemed to enjoy keerai vadai. This is what she said, when I asked her the reason - "Yenna vadai-la dhaaney keerai 'moru moru'-nu nanna irukku" (because spinach is crunchy only in vadai and not in kootu).

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 3-4 hrs (includes soaking)
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 12 - 14 nos

Urad dal - 1 cup
Green chillies - 2 nos
Red chillies - 2 nos
Hing - 1/4 teaspoon
Spinach - 1 cup (packed, finely chopped)
Curry leaves - 6-8 nos
Salt - 1 tsp
Water - 1/4 - 1/3 cup
Oil - for frying

Wash well and soak urad dal for atleast couple of hours or until it doubles in quantity. Drain the water completely. Add the rest of the ingredients to urid dal, except spinach and oil. Consistency is the key. So, grind in small intervals by sprinkling water little by little. Grind into smooth & fluffy batter using a mixer/grinder (grinder always gives best results). Add spinach to the batter and mix well.

Heat oil, on a medium heat, in a kadai or a deep pan. Oil should be atleast 1" deep. Start making vada's only when oil is at the right temperature. Test by dropping little batter in the oil and the batter should right away come to the top without changing its color.

Have a bowl of water alongside the batter. Water helps in easier handling of the batter.

Dampen your left palm & right-hand fingers in water. Take about a small ball of batter and flatten it in your left palm and make a small hole in the center of the flattened batter.

Turn the left hand over your right hand fingers and gently transfer the batter to your right-hand and then, drop it into oil.

Fry until golden brown and remove from oil. Do not turn the heat to high, as inside of the vadai may not cook properly.

  • You can also use plastic sheet / plantain leaf to make vadai and then transfer the batter into oil. Make sure to dampen your fingers/plastic sheet/plantain leaf everytime before you make vadai. If you are not able to make a donut shape, just drop it in any shape.
  • Oil will be very hot. So, be watchful of your fingers while dropping vadai into oil.

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