Keerai Vada

Cripsy Dal Patties

Lentils…the unsung gift from God. Ok, I’m about to evangelize the resourcefulness of lentils and pulses, so it you’re dal hater tune out now, However, for the enlightened amongst you, you’ll know how incredibly versatile these little pellets of goodness are, they possess the power to travel borders and be transformed in one way or another into the local cuisine. One of the best incarnations I’ve encountered was in South India, a great little snack and possibly India’s answer to Falafel, known as Keerai Vada, little lentil patties using channa dal and toor dal with squished spinach. I picked up this gem of a recipe in Pondicherry and immediately I was hooked, a crunchy texture which immediately gives way to a softer core, packed with a soft heat, and the perfume of fennel and unmistakable note of curry leaves doing their job. This South Indian Vada recipe is a keeper, it’s a great starter or snack and it’s beauty lies in its humble roots. Stop staring, get cracking, start sharing.

Makes 10-12

  • 180g Channa Dal
  • 80g Toor Dal
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 150g fresh leaf spinach, blanched, squeezed dry and finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • ½ green chilli, chopped
  • 1 tbs chopped curry leaves
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • Salt to season
  • Enough veg oil to deep fry
Keerai vada

How To Make Indian Falafel

Soak the Channa and Toor Dal for a couple of hours, then drain thoroughly. Tip the dal, dried red chilli, fennel seeds and salt into a blender and grind coarsely, add a tablespoon of water if the paste is too dry and hard for the blender. Spoon out the paste into a mixing bowl, and add the spinach, onion, green chilli, curry leaves and ginger. Get your hands into the bowl and mix thoroughly. Now grease your hands with a little oil, and extract golf sized chunks of the batter and shape into balls then gently flatten between your palms to create disc shaped patties.

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium temperature and test a piece of the batter, it should sizzle and bounce to the surface. Now, fry the patties in batches and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

Serve with a coconut and ginger chutney.

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