Aama Vadai (also called Paruppu Vadai or Masala Vadai) is a traditional snack that is made during Tamil New Year and also Ramnavami. Made from a variety of lentils and spiced with chillies, asafoetida, curry leaves and coriander, it is a delicious snack. It is also a very popular street food snack in South India.
Aama means tortoise in Tamil. But never fear, they do not contain tortoises, it is named this way because of the hard crispy outer shell of the vadai.
1 Tblspn Rice
0.5 cup of toor dal
0.5 cup channa dal
0.25 cup urad dal
4 – 5 Indian dried red chillies, or to taste
8 – 10 curry leaves
0.25 cup coriander leaves
sea salt to taste
oil for deep frying
Soak the rice and dals for 40 minutes. Keep aside 2 tspn channa dal and soak separately and do not grind into batter.
Drain and grind to a coarse batter with the chillies, asafoetida, curry leaves, coriander leaves and sea salt. I find pulsing the food processor in short blasts works well. Use as little water as possible – about 1 – 1.5 Tblspn will be enough, but the amount will depend on your lentils.
Now mix in the drained reserved channa dal.
Heat the oil in a kadhai or large pan to deep fry the vadai. The best way to shape them is on a square of plastic – moisten it a little, hold it in your left hand and pat and shape the batter on it. Make them about 4 cm in diameter.
Place the vada carefully into the hot oil – don’t overcrowd, cook 3 or 4 at a time. After a couple of minutes, and using 2 spoons, tongs or a ladle, turn the cakes over and cook gently until golden brown.
Remove them to kitchen paper to drain, and then serve with pickle or chutney and a cuppa.
recipe notes and alternatives
The amount of rice can be increased – at the same time decrease the amount of lentils proportionately.
I have made these with a very coarse batter – it makes them very crisp and crunchy. It can be ground a little more than this if preferred.
The vadai are beautifully crisp. I have served them here with Indian plain yoghurt mixed with home made chilli paste and coriander leaves finely chopped. The vadai are also nice with some onion rings and tomato wedges.
For variations, add garlic, onion and fennel seeds – these go well with Tomato Sauce.