A vadai - Tamil வடை- Malayalam വട - (also vada, wada, vade), pronounced 'vah-daa', 'vah-dey', or 'vah-die', is a savoury snack from South India, shaped like a doughnut and made from dal, lentil or potato. It is a traditional South Indian food known from antiquity .

There is one other variety commonly known in south India as aamai vadai (Tamil ஆமை வடை, literally "turtle-vadai"). This is prepared using lentils.

Vada can vary in size and shape, but are similar to the Western doughnut; however, the Indian vada is spicy rather than sweet.

Mashed or diced potatoes and/or lentils are seasoned — sometimes sauteed — then shaped, covered in a gram flour batter and deep-fried.

Although battered and deep-fried, the finished product should not be too oily if prepared correctly, since steam build-up within the vada pushes all oil away from within the vada.

A vada served in a bun (known as a pav) with chutney is known as a vada pav, a common Indian street food in Maharashtra.

Other varieties of vada

  • Thayir vadai - தயிர் வடை - (Hindi Dahi vada), made by serving the vada in a mix of yoghurt and spices).
  • Vengaaya vadai (Hindi Pyaz vada), made with onion)
  • Maddur vada, made with onion and without the hole in the middle, is a specialty of Karnataka
  • Paruppu vadai, made with toor dal and shaped roughly like a patty - this is also called aamai vadai
  • Masala vada, a softer less crisp vada.
  • Rava vada, vada made of semolina.
  • Batata vada, or bonda, made with potatoes, garlic and spices coated with lentil paste and fried; this form is used in vada pav.
  • Sabudana vada is another variety of vadai popular in Maharashtra, made with a grain known as Sabudana.

Vadas are also different doctorate branches of Buddhism.

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