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Vada (food)

A vada
Course Breakfast, supper
Place of origin South India
Main ingredients Lentils, chillis, onions, curry leaves
Variations Ulunthu vadai, paruppu vadai, masala vadai, keerai vadai, iraal vadai, thayir vadai
Cookbook: Vada 
Masala Vadai
Thayir Vadai with chilli powder, chaat masala, and coriander leaves
A plateful of Ulundhu Vada
ഉഴുന്ന് വട : Kerala version
Vada Pav as found in Mumbai.

Vada is a common term for many different types of savoury fritter-type snacks from South India with a set of common ingredients.[1] Due to their popularity, they have spread throughout the world and are known by various names - for example in South Africa where a large south Indian population is found it is called Vade.


  • Description 1
  • Preparation 2
  • Serving 3
  • Varieties 4
  • Gallery 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


Vada can vary in shape and size, but are usually either doughnut- or disc-shaped and are between 5 and 8 cm across. They are made from black grams and Bengal grams.

Vada is a traditional South Indian food known from ancient times.[2] As well as being commonly prepared at home, vada are popular items in street stalls and in railway stations(including the Indian Railways). They are eaten throughout the day but most commonly as a part of breakfast alongside idlis with sambar. Vada are an indispensable part of the menu in Hindu festivals with garlands of Vada offered to Hanuman on auspicious days in South Indian Temples.


Vada are generally prepared from a thick batter of Black gram or coarsely ground Bengal gram which has been fermented. This mixture is then seasoned by mixing with cumin seeds, onion, curry leaves (sometimes previously sauteed), salt, chillies and/or black pepper grains. Often ginger and baking soda are added to the seasoning in shops to increase the fluffy texture and improve fermentation for large batches. Homemade Vada generally do not incorporate baking soda and rely on natural fermentation (relatively easy in South India).[3] The individual vada are then shaped and deep-fried.[4]

Although battered and deep-fried, the finished product should not absorb the oil since steam build-up within the vada keeps the oil out. The final result is a crispy deep-fried skin around a light and fluffy centre.


Ulundhu vadai in boiling oil

Vada are typically and traditionally served along with a main course such as Dosa, Idli, or Pongal. Nowadays it is also ordered as an à la carte item but is never the main course and is eaten as a light snack or an accompaniment to another dish. Vada are preferably eaten freshly fried, while still hot and crunchy and are served with a variety of dips ranging from sambar to coconut chutney to curd.

The standard accompaniment to vada is a helping of coconut chutney and a watery sambar.


Medu Vada
Nutritional value per 2 pieces (58 gm)
Energy 795 kJ (190 kcal)
Dietary fiber 5 g
11 g
Saturated 4 g
4 g
306 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

There are two main types of vada which both originated in South India but have spread around the world:

  1. Medhu vada, also known as ulundhu vadai (Tamil: தமிழ்), uddina vade (Kannada: ಉದ್ದಿನ ವಡೆ), uzhunnu vada (Malayalam: ഉഴുന്നു വട), made with urad dal (black gram) flour. This vada is shaped like a doughnut with a hole in the middle (i.e. an approximate torus). It is the most common vada type throughout South India and the most recognisable throughout India.
  2. Masala vada, also known as paruppu vadai (Tamil: ), masala vade (Kannada: ಮಸಾಲ ವಡೆ), masala vada (Telugu: మసాలా వడ) and dal vada (Malayalam: പരിപ്പ് വട). The main ingredient of this type of vada is toor dal and it is made with whole lentils with a shape roughly like a flying saucer. Also referred to as aamai vadai (Tamil: ஆமை வடை) due to its resemblance to a tortoise.

Other types of vada are:

  • Maddur vade (Kannada: ಮದ್ದೂರು ವಡೆ): a type of onion vada unique to the state of Karnataka. It is very popular in the Maddur district of Karnataka and has a very different taste from any other vada types. It is typically larger than other vada types and is flat, crispy (to the point of breaking when flexed) without a hole in the middle.
  • Ambode, made from "split chickpeas without the seed coat" i.e. kadale bele in Kannada.
  • Mosaru Vade(Kannada:ಮೊಸರು ವಡೆ), made by cooking a vadai normally, and then serving the vadai in a mix of yogurt and spices.
  • Erulli bajji (Kannada:'ಈರುಳ್ಳಿ ಬಜ್ಜಿ’) (Malayalam: uli vada), made with onion. It is roughly round-shaped, and may or may not have a hole in the middle.
  • Rava vadai, vadai made of semolina.
  • Bonda, or batata vadai, made with potatoes, garlic and spices coated with lentil paste and fried; this form is used in vada pav. In some regions, a bonda is considered a distinct snack food, and is not held to be a type of vadai.
  • Sabudana vadai is another variety of vadai popular in Maharashtra, made from pearl sago.
  • Thavala vadai, a vadai made with different types of lentils.
  • Keerai vadai (spinach vadai) is made with spinach-type leaf vegetables along with lentils.
  • Vada pav, a vadai served in a bun (known as a pav) with chutney, a common street food in Maharashtra, especially in Bombay.
  • Keema vadai, a vadai made from minced meat, typically smaller and more crisp than other vadai types with no hole in the middle.
  • Vadai curry or vadai sambhar is a gravy dish that is made with prepared vadas blended with a vegetables in a curry or a gravy format
  • Bhajani cha vadai: a vadai made from a flour made from bajri, jawar, wheat, rice, channa dal, cumin, coriander seeds etc. A speciality of Maharashtra, very nutritious too: Famous Tamil actor Vijay dialed to Next Super star Tea stall and asked a vadai.
  • "Uzhunnu Vada" (Malayalam) : a type of vada prepared using urad dal, onions, green chilly, curry leaves & pepper powder popular in Kerala


See also


  1. ^ A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Or South-Indian Family of Languages. 
  2. ^ "The Hindu : Sci Tech / Speaking Of Science : Changes in the Indian menu over the ages". Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Mullai. "MEDHU VADAI RECIPE – ULUNDU VADAI / மெது வடை / Onion Medu Vada". Spiceindiaonline. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Masala vada recipe". Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  5. ^ "Calories in Saravana Bhavan Vada and Nutrition Facts". Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
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