Medu Vada, a popular snack recipe originating from Southern part of India and whose success and fame in other parts of country can be attributed to thriving business of Udupi restaurants.
These restaurants revolutionized Indian breakfast menu by breaking on the scenes with dishes like Idli, Dosa and Medu Vada.
I have vaguely stated the origin of Medu Vada as a Southern state as I was shying away from courting any controversy right at the onset. As it has happened on numerous occasions in past, Medu Vada too finds several claimants, with folks from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka both at the fore front of this race.
Being a sensitive nation that we are it’s a common sight to witness people taking offense of any trivial issue. In such testing times of social media, it becomes more important to rely on an expert opinion to be able to take a well-defined position. One such expert voice in food Industry is Vir Sanghvi, a renowned journalist, columnist and celebrated food-writer. He writes about Medu Vada, ‘the origin of medu vada can be traced with “some certainty” to the Maddur town in present-day Karnataka. The dish was made popular outside South India by Udupi restaurateurs of Mumbai’
This gives some credibility to the argument that Medu Vada must have originated in Karnataka. This disc shaped snack has become one of the most popular breakfast choices and is typically paired with Coconut chutney and Sambar. Besides Udupi restaurants, this dish quickly became part of street foods and several food cart vendors sell Medu Vada prominently on their carts. This Vada is made of Split and dehusked Black Gram also known as Urad Dal (Urad Dal is one of those cultivated crops that has been part of Indian civilization since ancient times). Urad Dal is soaked and then grounded into a fine and thick paste. Medu in Kannada means soft referring to how this Vadas should be- crisp from outside and soft inside.
The amount of water that goes into making of this batter is of utmost importance and can in fact be a defining factor of this dish. Add even a slightly more amount of water than required and your guests will end up complaining of their fingers getting greased by those Oily Vadas.
Other ingredients that are added in Urad Dal batter are chopped Chilies, Curry Leaves and Onions. Addition of Onion in the batter is avoided when Medu Vada is made for Naivedyam (Prasad) on religious occasions.
- 1½ Cups=300gms Urad Dal (Black Gram split and dehusked)-soaked in water for 4 hours. Drain excess water
- 1 Large=100gms Onions-finely chopped
- 2 Green Chilies-finely chopped
- 1-inch Ginger root -grated
- 5-6 Curry Leaves-finely chopped
- ¼th tsp Crushed Peppercorns
- Cooking Oil
- We have soaked Urad Dal for 4 hours. If you do not have time, then soak atleast for 2 hours. Grind into a fine and thick paste-in batches. Use as little water as possible. Adding too much water will make the batter watery. Make a fine and thick paste.
- Fine and thick Urad Dal paste is ready. We have used 3 tbsp water. It is very important to have Medu Vada batter of this consistency. If your batter becomes too watery or thin, then you won't be able to shape the batter into Medu Vada. Thin batter results into Oily Medu Vadas. Use as little water as possible for grinding.
- Whisk well. Whisk for 5-6 mins to make the batter light. Batter has become light and fluffy after whisking.
- Add remaining ingredients-chopped Onions,grated Ginger, chopped Chilies and Curry Leaves, crushed Peppercorns and Salt to taste and mix well.
- Batter is now ready. We will shape it into Medu Vada (easy way). Take a flat board. Spread a wet cloth. Also, we will take a bowl of water. Apply some water on cloth and on palms. Take a medium sized portion of batter and put it on flat board. Wet your palms and shape the ball into Medu Vadas. Smoothen the sides first. Smoothen the top surface and make a hole with a finger. Medu Vada is ready. Gently lift the Vada from the cloth and put it in Oil.
- Heat Oil on high heat for frying Vadas. Add small portion of batter in hot Oil to check if Oil is hot enough. If Vada comes up on the surface immediately, then Oil is hot enough. If it sinks, then you must wait until Oil gets hot enough. Lower the heat to medium and put Vada from the sides.
- We will fry on low-medium heat until Vada becomes crisp and golden brown in color. Frying on high heat will result into Vadas become golden brown in color but uncooked from inside.
- We have fried Vadas on low-medium heat for 2½ mins. Remove from the pan. Golden brown and crisp fried Medu Vadas are ready
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