Savory Doughnuts

Ulundha vadai (medhu vadai) is a gluten-free South Indian savoury doughnut prepared using black lentils (urad dal). Any feast or festival in our family is incomplete without making soft ulundha vadai with crispy golden skin. Vadai is a commonly prepared evening snacks in our family particularly during monsoon, and it is usually served with hot sambar/ rasam, spicy chutney, or creamy curd.

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Ulundha vadai can be served as rasa vadai, sambar vadai or thayir vadai.

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Ulundha vadai can also be simply served with coconut chutney & sambar.

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For rasa vadai or sambar vadai we need to soak vadai in hot rasam (soup) or sambar (lentil gravy) for few minutes, for thayir vadai blend curd (half cup) & coconut chutney (1 tbsp) and pour over warm vadai. Garnish with finely chopped onions and coriander leaves before serving. Please note that we need to prick holes using toothpick or fork before soaking so that it gets soaked quickly, evenly and completely.

Now let us get into the ulundha vadai recipe:

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I tried a method that has not been followed by anybody (to my knowledge) for making fluffy lentil dough; I find this method useful specially for making in small quantities at home. I have been following this successfully for quite a long time. You can check the recipe below for making restaurant-style soft spongy vada with crispy golden skin.

Time taken (excluding soaking time) for making vadai: 30 min

Yield : 16 Nos.


  1. Black gram (muzhu ulundhu) – 1 cup (200 g)
  2. Green chillies – 3 Nos.
  3. Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  4. Shallots – 15 to 20 Nos.
  5. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs.
  6. Salt – 1 tsp
  7. Sunflower oil for deep frying

Cooking Method:

Preparing dough:

  • Wash & soak black grams for 1 hour.
  • Chop shallots & curry leaves and keep aside.
  • Strain water completely from soaked lentils.
  • In a mixer-grinder jar add green chillies & grind for 30 sec.
  • Add lentils and grind for few min.
  • Add 2 tsp water and grind into a smooth paste.
  • Transfer lentil paste to a large bowl.
  • To incorporate air into the dough beat with electric beater (at high speed) until it becomes fluffy & whiter (approx. 3 min).
  • Add salt, cumin seeds, chopped shallots & curry leaves and mix well.

Frying vadai:

  • Heat a frying pan with oil (about 2 inch depth) in medium flame.
  • Divide lentil dough into 16 balls of equal size.
  • Place lentil ball on a greased leaf (or a plastic sheet),  make a hole through the center of ball and flatten it to form a doughnut shape.
  • Check oil by dropping a pinch of dough, if it comes up to the surface, it is ready for deep frying.
  • Turn over the leaf gently onto your hand and drop carefully into hot oil.
  • Repeat the steps #3, 4 & 5 to fry a batch of  upto 5 vadai depending on the size of pan.
  • Gently flip them to other side using frying spoon.
  • When they turn golden transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Repeat the same with rest of the dough.
  • Hot spongy delicious vadai is ready to serve.

Please Note:

  1. If you are making dough using wet grinder, no need to use electric beater.
  2. You can use groundnut oil instead of sunflower oil, but sesame oil is not recommended for deep frying.
  3. You have to fry vadai constantly in medium flame without adjusting the flame.
  4. You may add finely chopped ginger, coconut or coriander leaves.
  5. If you are offering to God, you can replace chillies with pepper and omit shallots.
  6. You may refrigerate the dough for a day or two in an air-tight container.

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