Masaal Vadai/ Gram Dal Fritters

We had a potluck last week with some friends and had prepared masaal vadai as one of the items; Shiva Shankari had mostly made it and it was a super hit item which all of us liked very much. This is a conventional item in most south Indian homes but we at home are more acquainted with medu vadai so its an exiting dish for me. I had tried this once with ‘pattani paruppu’ instead of gram dal, when we had my sister and family at home; it had turned slightly watery and so, thanks to Shankari only this time I learnt it right from her. 
Yields:  35 Vadais approx.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes
Soaking Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
1.      Gram dal or Pattani paruppu – 500 gm
2.    Onion – 3 large
3.    Ginger chopped – 2 tbsp
4.    Curry leaves chopped – a fistful
5.     Coriander leaves chopped – a fistful
6.    Green chilies – 4-5 finely chopped
7.     Fennel seeds – 1 tbsp
8.    Salt to taste
9.    Oil for deep frying
Step 1: Wash and soak gram dal (or pattani paruppu if you are using that) for 2 hours.
Step 2: Drain the water completely; leave the dal in a colander for few minutes to drain out water thoroughly. This is where I had made mistake in my first attempt.
Step 3: Save a fistful of soaked dal and grind coarsely the rest of the dal in a mixer jar without adding water.
Step 4: Collect the ground dal in a mixing bowl, add to it the retained whole dal and all other ingredients except oil and mix well. Adjust salt and spices.
Step 5: Heat oil in a deep kadai; take lemon sized ball of the batter and pat into 3″ diameter discs with the help of your palms (use very little water if necessary to grease palms). Fry 5-6 in a batch and repeat for the entire batter.
Step 6: Serve hot as is or with coconut/ pudina chutney.
* Thin discs fried in simmered heat for long time render crisp vadais while fatter ones are soft.
*Vadakari is a spicy curry made out of left over masaal vadai as an accompaniment for aapam or poori or idli or dosa.

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