Medu Vada Recipe (Garelu)

Medu Vada is crisp, fluffy & delicious donut-shaped lentil fritter from South Indian Cuisine. Vada with Coconut Chutney or Tiffin Sambar is a popular Breakfast relished in many South Indian homes & restaurants. Make delicious, crisp, soft, and fluffy vada at home with my time-tested traditional recipe. I also have a lot of troubleshooting tips and tricks to make the best menu vada at home.

Medu Vada Recipe

What is Vada?

Vada is a deep-fried savory snack mostly made with lentils, spices, and herbs. The Word “Vada” may have been derived from the Sanskrit term “vataka.” According to the famous Indian Food Historian KT Achaya, vada dates back to ancient India, as far as 500 BC, mentioning the food as soaked and ground pulses fried in ghee.

Till day, traditionally made vada are offered to Deities/ Gods in Temples and Hindu homes during puja.
Indian Cuisine is a melange of different regional cuisines so you will find many kinds of vada across India. Vada is a fried snack known by different names, such as bada, wada, or bora, with recipes varying by region, community, and home. They can be made with lentils, vegetables, grains, and tapioca pearls.Masala vada, medu vada, Maddur vada, batata vada, and Dahi vada are popular in Indian Cuisine.

About Medu Vada

Medu vada is a traditional South Indian fritter made with urad dal (black lentils), spices, and curry leaves. “Medu” is a Kannada word meaning “Soft,” and “Vada” are “crispy Indian fritters.” So medu vada, also sometimes mentioned as “VADA,” are soft and crisp on the outside.

Known by different names such as Garelu in Telugu, adding vada, media vada in Kannada, ulundhu vadai in Tamil, and uzhunnu vada in Malayalam, they are made and relished across the South Indian states.

Telugu-speaking people also offer them during Varalakshmi vratam, Gouri puja, Diwali, and Durga Navratri.

Depending on the region and family traditions, various spices and herbs are added to the batter.
South Indian foods like masala dosa, idli, rava dosa, and media vada served with coconut chutney, and sambar are hugely popular even in restaurants worldwide.

My Recipe

Medu Vada Recipe
Making perfectly crisp and fluffy vadas at home is easy if you follow the recipe without missing the  details .

The recipe involves only three steps – soaking lentils, grinding them to make the fluffy batter, and shaping small portions of the batter & frying. Traditionally made vada batter is ground in a manual stone grinder, but many of us also grind it in an electric mixer grinder/ blender or a wet grinder.

Making the fluffy batter is the key to crisp and fluffy vadas. So you need a robust and powerful blender that grips your lentils well to a fluffy texture. If you use a regular low-watt grinder, you may end up with complex and dense vadas, and even more, your blender may break down.

The primary menu, vada, has just urad dal, water, and salt. To flavor them, ingredients like crushed black pepper, green chilies, ginger, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and onions are used. At home, we do not add any other ingredients if making for Naivedyam. This is a tradition we have followed.

Other times my Mom would add all those aromatic ingredients, and sometimes onions were replaced with fresh shredded cabbage, which goes well in these cakes.

How To Make Medu Vada?


1. Add 1 cup urad dal to a large bowl, wash it well, and rub it with your hand. Rinse it well at least 3 to 4 times & drain the water. This removes the white powdery substance on the urad dal.

2. Add fresh water and soak it for at least 4 to 5 hrs. Soaking them for at least 5 hours makes the batter fluffy and increases volume. But if you do not have so much time, you can soak for 3 hours, but the texture is different. You can soak it for 8 hours with good results using organic dal. While the dal soaks, keep about 1 cup of water in the refrigerator to chill.

Make batter

3. Later, discard the water entirely from the dal & give a good rinse. Drain the water completely.

4. Add the dal to a grinder or blender jar with 1/3 teaspoon salt.

5. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water to start. Blend for a short time, about 25 to 30 seconds.

6. scrape the sides and bottom to release the stuck dal.

7. As and when needed, sprinkle evenly about only 1 ½ teaspoon water each time. The process is the same whether you make it in a wet grinder or blender. Scrape off the sides and grind again. The batter will be coarse but must be thick. Sprinkle water as needed again.

8. Grind till the batter looks fluffy, thick, lightly aerated, and white. (like you see in the picture). Ensure your blender does not become warm or hot while you grind, as this will give a bitter taste.

Consistency of Batter

9. Check if the batter is done correctly. Take a small bowl filled with water. Please take a little batter and, form a ball, drop it in the water. If the consistency & texture of the batter is light, the batter floats well.
The batter will only float if the consistency is intact. Read the notes below on what to do if the batter becomes runny/thin.

10. Transfer the batter to a bowl, and beat the batter with your hand in a clockwise direction for 30 to 40 seconds. This makes the batter more fluffy and aerated. This is very important. You can skip this step by making the batter in a wet grinder.

11. To make the hotel-style menu vada, you can add a tiny pinch of baking soda, half a teaspoon of crushed pepper, 1 to 2 chopped green chilies, 1 tablespoon fine chopped ginger, 1 sprig of curry leaves, and 2 to 3 tbsps chopped onion or fresh coconut. Since I made these for the puja, I did not add any to half of the batter. To the other half, I added everything else but not soda. Mix the batter well.

How To Shape Medu Vada?

12. heat the oil in a deep pan on a medium flame. Ensure enough oil in the kadai so your menu vada floats and fries well.
13. Method 1: Dip your fingers in water (water should not be dripping from your fingers).

14. Take small portions of this batter to your fingers. Make a ball.

15. Slightly flatten the ball with your thumb. Next, make a hole in the center. If the batter sticks, dip your thumb in water. If you are new to making media vada, follow the second method below or practice this a few times before frying. I always make these following the second method.

16. Before sliding the menu vada into the oil, ensure it is hot enough. To check, drop a small portion of the batter into it. The batter must rise without browning a lot. This is the right temperature.

17. Method 2: Place the ball on greased or parchment paper. Flatten it slightly and make a hole in the center.

18. Ensure the flame is medium Once the oil is hot enough. Dip your fingers in the water. Please ensure there is no excess water dripping from your hand. Lift the side or corner part of the sheet with your left hand and transfer the media vada onto your fingers (right hand).

19. Face your palm towards the oil and gently drop in the hot oil by shaking your fingers. Take care. Drop these just by shaking your fingers. Gently slide a few.

20. Fry medu vada on a medium flame till they turn golden & crisp. Towards the end, if you like deep golden, fry them on a slightly higher flame for 2 mins.

21. When done, remove them from a colander. Shape and fry menu vadas in batches till all the batter is used up.

We offer garlic to the Goddess first. Serve menu vada with coconut chutney & tiffin sambar. Here I have the picture of both – plain & with spices & onions.

We offer only the plain ones during pooja.


How do I keep Vada crisp for a long time?

Like any other deep-fried food, vada becomes soft and loses its crispness as they cool down. Place a cooling rack over a baking tray to keep them crisp for longer, and pop them in the oven. Preheat your oven with warm settings (80 C to 100 C or 175 F to 200 F) for at least 15 mins, then place the hot fried vadas over the cooling rack. Continue to move them to the oven as you fry.

How to do crisp or reheat vada?

You can refry them in hot oil Or reheat them to crisp them in a preheated oven at 180 C or 360 C for 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp.

Why did my menu vada absorb a lot of oil?

If the oil needs to be hotter or the urad dal is over-soaked, vada can absorb much oil. Also, if the lentils are ground too long in a wet grinder, the batter can become feather-light, and vadas can soak up a lot of oil. So ensure you don’t oversoak the lentils, grind them until light and fry the vada in hot oil.

Why is my vada hard?

Soaking the lentils well for at least 4 hours is very important. Under-soaked lentils won’t yield a fluffy batter, and the vadas turn out dense and complex. Not using enough water while grinding and not aerating the batter enough can also make hard vada. Lastly, aged lentils on the shelf for a long time do not make the fluffy batter, so use fresh lentils. Avoid using lentils that have picked up a yellow shade.

Why is my vada uncooked?

Frying vadas in boiling oil will brown the vadas from the outside but won’t cook them inside. So always ensure the oil is hot enough but not smoking hot. Also, fry them on a medium flame until crisp, golden, and cooked.

Can I make a vada batter without a wet grinder?

In hotels & restaurants, medu vada batter is made in a wet grinder. This gives the best fluffy texture from the inside and a crispy texture outside. Most traditional South Indian households, too, use a wet grinder to make the batter.
But every time I make garlic, I use my mixer grinder. I have a vast wet grinder, so I rarely use that for grinding. We can make fluffy media vada even without a wet grinder.

Pro Tips & Notes

1. Firstly do not let the mixer-grinder or the batter heat up while grinding. The warm or hot batter makes hard medu vada. Sometimes they may even taste bitter. So always use ice-cold water to grind the lentils.
2. If the batter becomes slightly runny, mix 1 to 2 tbsps of rice flour (at room temperature). Then beat it well to aerate. If the batter still turns out to be runny, I suggest you make punugulu or urad dal bonda.
3. Other alternatives are to use finely powdered poha (attukulu). Poha works great to soak up excess moisture in the runny batter.
4. If you are a beginner, make the menu vada on a damp cloth, plastic sheet, or cling film and then transfer it to the hot oil. Do not make it in your hand or fingers.
5. Lastly, adding salt later to the batter can thin it down, so make sure you add it while grinding.
6. Use only very little ice-cold water to grind the batter. I am using not more than 1 1/2 tsp. At one time, which means you have to sprinkle the water.
7. If using organic urad dal, you can soak it for 8 hours.

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