Paruppu Vada (Gram Medallions)

South India has a large variety of vadas, though many other Indian states also have their own versions. Vadas are basically savoury  (a few are sweet too) medallion shaped snacks that can be consumed anytime, particularly at tea-time. Some have a hole in the centre, akin to a doughnut. The most popular vada is Medhu Vada (made from black split gram), followed by Paruppu Vada (also called Masala Vada), Traditionally, these are deep fried. No festival in South India is complete without a vada included in the menu for the day. You can keep gorging on this delicious preparation, but the sense of guilt is acute since it is deep fried. Here is a version that uses no oil at all, with no compromise on taste.

1 cup Bengal gram (chana dal, kadalai parupu)
10 shallots or 1 big onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp rice flour
3-4 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
To Grind
1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf, sombu)
2 dried red chillies
5 cloves garlic, chopped fine (optional)
1/2″ piece ginger
Wash and soak the Bengal gram for 2-3 hours
Drain the water completely and set aside
Grind the ingredients mentioned under “to grind” into a coarse paste
Set aside
Reserve a tbsp of the Bengal gram
Grind the rest into a coarse, thick paste (do not add water)
It will look crumbly, but will hold together
Transfer to a bowl
Add onions, rice powder, coriander leaves, salt and the ground spice paste
Add the reserved Bengal gram
Mix well, but gently
Make lemon sized balls of this batter
Take each ball on your palm and pat into a medallion shape of medium thickness
Steam these balls for about 12 minutes
Transfer to an air fryer
“Fry” for 10-15 minutes or till the vadas turn golden brown (ensure that the vadas are not burnt)
Serve it on its own, with a coconut chutney or any other chutney of your choice

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