Medu Vadai | Deep Fried South Indian Savory Donuts

What you will find in this post?

  1. Brief introduction on how Tamil New Year is celebrated in Tamil Homes
  2. Recipe for a popular Tamil Nadu street food – Medu Vadai

Today is 14Apr2015. A very auspicious day for South Indians. It marks the beginning of the New Year.

We celebrated it with homemade medu vadai, Sakkara pongal (sweetened rice-lentils), idli and sambhar. My parents-in-laws are here with us and we celebrated the festival in the traditional way. We come from Tamil Nadu and specifically from Tamil Mudhaliyar/Vellalars Community. The festival is traditional celebrated with Boli, it a South Indian equivalent of Salvadorian dish Pupusa or South American Arepa. All purpose flour is turned into a dough and rolled into a tortilla/roti and sweet lentil crumble is used as a filling and they are topped with another layer of roti/tortilla. They are cooked with ghee until done. I made filling with sweet potato and coconut palm sugar. You can find the recipe for my sweet potato boli here. We pray infront of the mirror by offering “muuk kani – ma, pala, vazhai” (meaning three fruits – mango, jackfruit and banana). On the eve of New Year, we arrange the fruits, gold, silver jewellary, coins/money, flowers and five key kitchen ingredients – Uppu, Puli, Arisi, Paruppu, Milagai (Salt, Tamarind, Rice, Lentil, Dry Red Chillies) in front of the mirror. We view the offering through the mirror and not directly upon waking up in the morning. In Southern India, it is the season where you can find neem trees with their flowers and first batch of mangoes hanging in the trees. We make mango pachidi with neem flowers, jaggery and green chillies along with neem flower rasam. It is traditionally made in every Tamil homes to symbolize growth and prosperity. The neem flowers in rasam also helps to cleanse the body from spring allergies and toxins. The body gets ready for the hot summer days.

Tamil New Year 2015_1

Tamil New Year 2015_2

Wish you all a very Happy Tamil New Year! Iniya Tamil Puthandu Vazhthukal

What is your traditional way to celebrate this festival?

Medu Vadai_3

My husband is on his flight to a conference so we celebrated it last evening. My mother-in-law didn’t have the time to make boli but she made our favourite Sakkara Pongal with oodles of ghee, cashews and raisins. We always welcome the festival with an Indian sweet.  We make it for South Indian Harvest Festival called Pongal. You can find recipe for the sweet pongal here.

Sweet is always paired with a savory dish. We love to eat Sakkara pongal with medu vadai. Medu vadai is nothing but deep fried South Indian Savory Donuts. The urad dahl (white lentils) are soaked and ground to a thick paste with green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. You can see the picture of urad dahl in this post where the deep fried vadais are served with seasoned yogurt.

The festival meal is incomplete without hot,fluffy, soft idlies and flavorful sambar.

Medu Vadai_2

Source: My Mom


  • 1 cup White Lentils/ Ulundu / Urad dahl
  • 2 Green Chillies
  • 1 Inch Ginger, Minced
  • 1 Small Red Onions, chopped
  • Cilantro, couple of tablespoon
  • 10-12 Curry Leaves, Chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Asafoetida
  • 2 teaspoon Salt
  • Water as needed, use minimum
  • Oil to fry

Cooking Directions

  1. Soak the lentil in water for 4 hours. Remove all the water and add to a grinder or mixie (make sure that you add only 2 tablespoon water only). Throw in green chillies and ginger. Grind to a smooth batter. Please make sure you sprinkle water to get the grinder from not getting stuck and keep the process going. I will also open the lid and move the batter to the center of the blade to enhance better grinding. You need a fluffy glob of batter. It will take 15-20 minutes to incorporate the air and fluffiness to the paste.
  2. Remove to a clean bowl. With your hand, whisk the batter in circular motion in single direction. This will incorporate more air to the paste. Leave it in the fridge for 1 hours. You need a cold paste.
  3. Add onions, curry leaves and cilantro to the batter and mix to combine. Right before you cook, add salt as you don’t want the salt to leave any moisture to the paste.

Deep Frying Method:

  1.  Heat oil to 375F. Using hand, remove little of the paste and place it on the left palm. Shape into a donut and gently remove with your other hand and deep dry in super hot oil. Let it brown. It takes less than 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl wrapped with kitchen tissue.

Less Oil / Appe Pan Method:

  1. Heat the appam pan and smear little oil in the holes. Spoon the paste and let it cook. It takes about 10 minutes on each side. It takes a while to cook in the appe / paniyaram pan so patience is key. Once cooked, remove and set aside.

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One Comment

  1. Rhonda 5 years ago

    love the presentation of the dish, will try this recipe this weekend

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