Crunchy Bliss: Masala Vadai with Avocado-Tofu Chutney

Last week was the Tamil New Year, and that always warrants something special. And what can be more special than crunchy, utterly satisfying deep-fried food?

I won’t lie: although I like to watch what I eat, it is never easy for me to resist the golden deliciousness of foods dunked in bubbling oil. Given my sub-zero willpower around fried foods of any sort, I usually resist temptation simply by not keeping store-bought fried foods around the house.

But festivals are a great excuse to pull out that cast-iron pan and get some oil on the boil.

For the new year, Desi suggested masala vadai, one of his favorites.

Masala Vadai is pretty easy to put together and very versatile. It can be a snack, an appetizer at parties, a light meal, even, with some sambar and chutney.

You can add some veggies like cabbage or spinach to your vadais to make them more nutritious. But one ingredient is an absolute must if you want the true flavor of a traditional masala vadai: cinnamon.

I added some saunf and garlic and onion as well– all traditional ingredients that together bring an exquisite complexity to the flavor of the vadai.

For a slightly untraditional twist, I served it with an avocado-tofu chutney that was really quite delicious and healthy to boot.

So here it is, my own chunk of deep-fried bliss, Masala Vadai with Avocado-Tofu Chutney. Hope you enjoy it!

Masala Vadai


1 cup chana dal, soaked at least 2 hours

3-4 1-inch sticks of cinnamon

1 tsp saunf

10-15 curry leaves

3 red chilies or 1 tsp chili powder

1 red onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt to taste

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Oil for deep frying.

Put all the ingredients other than the cilantro and the oil into a food processor or blender and process until it comes together in a coarse paste. I ground up my vadai batter quite fine, but you could leave a few visible bits of the dal in there for a more traditional look.

Try not to add any water, because you want a stiff batter that you can shape into vadais. If your blender refuses to budge, however, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it relents. If the batter gets too loose, sprinkle in just enough chickpea flour so the dough holds together.

Add the cilantro to the batter and mix in. Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.

Heat oil in a cast-iron or other pan.

Make a ball about one inch in diameter with the vadai batter and then flatten between the palms of your hands into a disc.

Fry in hot oil until golden brown, about a minute on each side.

Serve hot with chutney.

Avocado-Tofu Chutney


2 ripe avocadoes, peeled, pitted and diced

1 tbsp ginger, grated

1 green chili, jalapeno or serrano would work.

1 cup silken soft tofu

A few drops of lemon juice

Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until nice and smooth.

Garnish with coriander, if desired.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

25 thoughts on “Crunchy Bliss: Masala Vadai with Avocado-Tofu Chutney

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 16, 2008 at 6:32pm

    Masala Vadai and Avoca-tofu chutney new combo… Sounds good and healthy chutney next to the bubbly oily vadas , vaishu… My favo snack masala vadai, they re pretty….

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    April 16, 2008 at 7:42pm

    nice combo vaishali!love those and vadas and tofu chutney too…creative idea

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    April 16, 2008 at 8:17pm

    yummmm :)
    am big on avocado, hv posted soup & buttermilk using it ;) ur chutney sounds so good!

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    April 16, 2008 at 9:22pm

    Fun combination of flavors! I’ve been experimenting more and more with Indian spices as I do love them.

    The chutney is totally unique, I would never have thought of that combination on my own. The calories you sacrificed for the fried masala vadai you made up for with a healthy tofu condiment :)

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    April 16, 2008 at 11:49pm

    vaishali…. i just loved the idea of ur tofu n avacado chutney iam gonna try it tonight for dinner…:D thanx for the lovely vadai recipe…:P

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    April 17, 2008 at 12:47am

    Hi vaishali,Wow avo chutmey, sounds great.The masala vada looks absolutely watering.

    I love your space always unique!!!!!!!11

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    April 17, 2008 at 7:21am

    Vaishali …like the vadai but chutney’s combo is gr8

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    April 17, 2008 at 11:00am

    I can’t resist fried foods, either. With all those curry leaves, Vaishali, your kitchen must be a fragrant paradise. Sigh.

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Happy cook

    April 17, 2008 at 12:20pm

    I guess we all are same, i cant resisit too deep fried food.
    Vadas looks delicious

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 17, 2008 at 1:07pm

    masala vadai looks great love the chutney, will surely try this and let you know. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 17, 2008 at 2:04pm

    I like that- avocado and tofu chutney.:-)
    I rarely buy avocado ‘cos it’s pretty tasteless but it sounds like a great addition in this chutney.

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    April 17, 2008 at 2:17pm

    yes, masala vada is so divine. Yours look simply delicious. Love the idea of avocado-tofu chutney.

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Mansi Desai

    April 17, 2008 at 7:03pm

    the chutney sounds lovely Vaishali! hope you had a lovely new year beginning:)

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 17, 2008 at 8:29pm

    masala vadai is sooooooo the color..i want a bite of it:)

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    April 17, 2008 at 9:50pm

    Mouth watering dear,feels like to grab one:-)……..

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    April 18, 2008 at 12:58am

    vaishuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu,…. ur just amazing muah muah muah….. i tried the chutney yday at it was amazing, awesome, terrific….. no other word to appreciate it…. made little changes to it…. it was a hit as a combi for my spicy mysore masala dosa…. was wondering do u mind if i post it in my blog???….ur tooo good… waiting for more such recipes…:D

    n yeah it will be a good dip too :D

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    April 18, 2008 at 1:41am

    Nice looking Vadai.. I will sure try the chutney. My daughter just saw the name of the chutney and immediately asked me to make it.


  18. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 18, 2008 at 3:23am

    Cham, Chocolatecoveredvegan, Dhivya, Richa, LisaRene, Pearlsofeast, Divya, Saswati: Thanks all you lovely ladies!

    Susan, Happy Cook: Thanks. Fried foods definitely make for good eats, don’t they?

    Medhaa, Thanks.

    TBC: I do love avocadoes, not least for how healthy they are. I cannot resist snacking on them just by themselves. I do hope you try this.

    Uma, Mansi, Ranji, Annu: Thanks my dear ladies.

    Shubha: I’m so very happy you tried this and liked it. You made my day! Feel free to post it on your blog. And you’re absolutely right- I agree it would make a great dip.

    Sarada, Welcome! Your daughter sounds lovely, and I do hope you have a chance to make the chutney for her.

  19. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 20, 2008 at 3:28am

    Where do you get curry leaves? Its been weeks since I had ‘em :(

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    April 21, 2008 at 5:09pm

    Chocolatecovered, Thanks! Am still experimenting with the layout, but I promise I’ll include the kids on each one I try. They do seem to touch a chord!

    Suganya, I always get them at my local Indian grocery store- I cannot imagine cooking without them! I am not sure where you’re based, but just in case you happen to live in the DC area, drop me a line at Cheers.

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    April 22, 2008 at 4:27am

    Thanx a lot vaishali… the post is coming soon will notify u and will also link it back to ur amazing…thanx again for letting me post this amazing finger licking chutney… i can just eat it as it is…. vadai or no vadai hehehe:P

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