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Masala vada in a plate with toothpicks
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5 from 2 votes

Masala Vada

Masala Vada, a crunchy, crispy South Indian snack made with lentils and spices
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Masala Vada
Servings: 12


  • 1 cup chana dal , soaked at least 2 hours
  • 3-4 one-inch sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp saunf
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  • 3 red chile peppers (or 1 tsp cayenne)
  • 1 red onion , diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic , minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp cilantro , chopped
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)


  • Make Masala Vadai:
  • 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.