Vada is a traditional South Indian food known from antiquity. Although they are commonly prepared at home, vadas are as well a typical street food in the Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka. They are usually a morning food, but in street stalls and in railway stations, they are available as a snack all day.
Vada, vadai, or vade, pronounced ‘Wah-dei’, is a traditional food preparation from southern India. They are typically deep-fried in oil and served with savoury accompaniments. It originated in Tamilnadu and since has spread in popularity throughout India and Sri Lanka.
There are two types of vadai – Paruppu vadai made from chana dal (split de-husked black chickpeas), and Ulundu vadai made from urad dal (de-husked black lentils.) Sliced green chillies, curry leaves and onion are also mixed into the batter, and ulundu vadai batter contains rice in addition to these. While paruppu vadai is circular and slightly flat, ulundu vadai is wheel-shaped with a hole in the middle. Ulundu vadai is bland and usually enjoyed with chutney or sambar.
The general way of preparing vada is to make a paste or dough with gram flour or mashed or diced potatoes and/or dal lentils. This mixture is subsequently seasoned by mixing withblack mustard seeds, onion, curry leaves, which are sometimes previously sauteed, and salt, chilies and/or black pepper grains. Often ginger and baking soda are added to the seasoning. The individual vadas are then shaped and deep-fried. Certain types of vada are covered in a gram flour batter before frying.
Although battered and deep-fried, the finished product should not be too oily if prepared correctly, since steam build-up within the vada pushes all oil away from within the vada.
The main vada types are : Masala Vada, Medu Vada
Other types of vada are:
Maddur vade is a type of onion vada unique to the state of Karnataka (India). This is typically larger than other vada types, flat, crispy (to the point of breaking when flexed) and having no hole in the middle.
Ambode, made from ‘split chickpeas without the seed coat
Mosaru Vade, made by serving the vada in a mix of yogurt and spices.
EruLLi bajji, made with onion. It is roughly round-shaped, and may or may not have a hole in the middle.
Masala vada, a softer less crisp vada.
Rava vada, vada made of semolina.
Vada Pav can be found in Mumbai.
Bonda, or Batata vada, 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 vada.
Sabudana vada is another variety of vada popular in Maharashtra, made from Pearl Sago.
Thavala vada, a vada made with different types of lentils.
Keerai Vada (Spinach Vada) is made with spinach-type leaf vegetables along with lentils.
Vada pav, A vada served in a bun (known as a pav) with chutney is known as a vada pav, a common street food in Maharashtra, especially in Bombay.
Keema Vada, A vada made from minced meat, typically smaller and more crisp than other vada types with no hole in the middle.