Vadai curry is a very famous dish in Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai. Mot of the hotels in Chennai will have vadai curry served during breakfast. It is an ideal combination for idlis and dosas. The method I have used here is my SIL’s. She does not fry the vadas. She steams them instead and I feel this is a healthy way of enjoying this spicy dish. This time, I have used deep-fried vadas as I had some leftover vadas from previous day lunch and I needed to use them. I prefer this with dosas rather than idlis. It is simply yummy with dosas.

Channa dhal, 1 cup, soaked for 2-3 hours.
Fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon.
Rice powder, 1 tablespoon.
Garlic, 2 cloves.
Ginger small pieces.
Green chilies, 3.
Salt, as per taste.
Red onion, medium-sized, 1.
Curry leaves, a handful.
Cilantro, a handful.

Onion, medium-sized, 3.
Tomato, 2.
Ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon.
Cinnamon, 1 small stick.
Fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon.
Bay leaf, 1.
Cloves, 2.
Green chilies, 2.
Chili powder, 1 teaspoon.
Coriander powder, 1 teaspoon.
Turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon.
Salt, as per taste.
Butter, 2 tablespoons.
Curry leaves and cilantro for seasoning.

Wash the soaked channel dhal and set aside. Grind the channa dhal along with the fennel seeds, chilies, garlic, and ginger without water. Chop the onion, curry leaves, and cilantro into small pieces. Add the onion, curry leaves, cilantro, rice powder, and salt to the ground channa dhal and mix everything well. Heat a kadai with 1 cup of oil. When the oil is hot, take a small amount of the ground mixture and flatten it with the palm of the hand and drop into the hot oil. When the vadas rise up and turns golden-brown, remove them from the oil and drain the excess oil with a paper towel. When the vadas have cooled break them into small pieces and keep aside.

Instead of deep frying the vadas in oil, they can be steamed. Make small balls of the vada mixture and arrange them on idli plates and steam them for 15-20 minutes. Let them cool for another 15 minutes and break them into small pieces.

Chop the onions and tomatoes into small pieces. Split the green chilies into 2. Heat a pan with some oil. When the oil is hot enough, add the fennel seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, and bay leaf and fry them for 1 minute. Add the chopped onions, tomatoes, and green chili and sauté for a few minutes. Then add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute until everything is well blended. Add the chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt and fry for a minute until the raw smell of the spices goes. Now add 1-1/2 cups of water along with 2 tablespoons of butter to the gravy. Then add the broken vada pieces and cook them closed for 5-10 minutes until the gravy thickens. Garnish with chopped curry leaves and cilantro and serve hot with idlis and dosas.

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