Vada is a South Indian savory fritter made with soaked lentils and usually fried to a golden crisp. This recipe is baked with little to no oil for a healthier alternative. I used green split pea unlike the typical split chana dal (dry split chickpea) for variation. This recipe works well with chickpeas, black lentil and other legumes.
The most important step is soaking the peas till it plumps up three times their size. I soak the peas for a minimum of 12 – 24 hours to make it easier to digest. Change the soaking water every 3-4 hours, till the water is clear and free of bubbles. Add a pinch of sea salt when soaking overnight to draw out the gas which will form bubbles on top of the water. Be sure to use cold water when rinsing and soaking the peas. Changing the soaking water and adding some sea salt helps reduce bloating and uncomfortable gas associated with legumes.
In the above the picture you see the difference between dry and soaked split peas. Another advantage to soaking the peas for 12-24 hours is the peas grind smoother and cooks evenly.
Grind the green split peas in a food processor. I recommend splitting it in two batches and pulsating in the beginning to avoid overgrinding. The goal is to make a finely course mixture, not a paste. If you’re feeling lazy you can add roughly chopped garlic, ginger and chili to the food processor till finely minced. But don’t add the onions because their high water content can water down the mixture and make it impossible to form a dense patty.
The tablespoon of flour is a light binder. It soaks up excess moisture and makes it easy to form a patty. If you find your mixture is not binding and crumbling apart, add another tablespoon of flour. Baking soda makes the vadas light and airy. Without the spices you have a standard vada recipe, with the addition of turmeric.
But since these are masala vadas, we’re going to add spices! Prepackaged powders don’t pack a punch of flavor, since they were ground and sitting on the shelves for who knows how long. I recommend using whole spices and dry toasting them in a dry skillet to release all the essential oils. The freshly ground spices lends a floral nutty flavor to the vadas.
After the mixture is thoroughly mixed with all its components, it can be stored in the refrigerator for future use up to 24hrs. Just allow it to come to room temperature before baking.
Baking the vadas on parchment paper ensures a crispy outer layer without the use of oil. Top each of the patties with ¼ teaspoon of olive oil so they brown evenly, but no need to add additional oil when flipping over halfway in the cooking process.
Once thoroughly baked, serve warm and enjoy with garlic sauce. I prefer the addition of fresh cilantro, lemon juice and olives. These masala vadas are a perfect afternoon snack or a light meal with a side salad.
- 1 cup dry green split pea
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tbsp. minced ginger
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1-2 minced bird’s eye chili
- 1 tbsp. flour
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- ½ tsp. cumin seeds
- ½ tsp. cardamom pods
- ½ tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. salt or to taste
- Soak the green split peas with four cups of water, atleast 12 to 24 hours ahead.
- After that, drain and grind the green split pea to a course texture in a food processor on pulsate mode for better control.
- In a medium skillet dry toast the coriander, cumin, fennel, and cardamom pods for 2-3 minutes on medium low heat. Once the whole spices are cool grind to a fine powder.
- To the coarsely ground green split pea, add minced red onion, ginger, garlic, chilies, flour, baking soda, turmeric powder and the ground up spices.
- Allow the mixture to set for 10 minutes.
- Then preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, measure golf ball sized balls of the mixture and flatten to form a patty.
- For a crispy outer layer drizzle each patty with ¼ tsp. of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes, turning over halfway.
- Serve warm and enjoy with garlic sauce!