The next time it rains or you have a craving, make a batch of this BAKED Masala Vada. It’s just as crispy as the deep-fried version!
If I had to pick a favorite meal, just one, I’d pick Rava Upma with Masala Vada (crispy lentil fritters). Even if I was made to eat just that, every single day of my life, over and over again, I think I still wouldn’t tire of it.
Note: Rava Upma is Semolina tempered with mustard, cumin, lentils and curry leaves and cooked till soft. It’s a super comforting South Indian breakfast.
Why Baked and not fried
You thought the primary reason would be something along the lines of ‘Healthy’ right? Not quite.
I have a whole series of Baked not Fried recipes on this blog and in most of those posts I’ve whined about how awful it is that when I deep-fry things in my largely carpeted apartment, the whole place smells oily for days, even weeks! Urgh! Baking helps me avoid the oiliness that clings to the air and everything it touches.
But that’s not even the best part about Baking something that is traditionally deep-fried – Usually while deep-frying stuff, I’d have to stand over hot oil (hazardous as it is) frying multiple batches. And only one or two people get to eat while the rest of the batter is being fried. When it’s baked though, it’s all in the oven in one batch and I know that in 30 minutes, everyone at the table waiting for their vada can get their share all at once.
Waiting is a real problem you know, coz as kids, my brother and I would fight like hyenas over every batch, sometimes even grabbing the plate and running away so the other one can’t get to it.
Here are some other deep-fried snacks that I’ve managed to bake!
Starting from top left: Baked Medu Vada, Baked Plantain Chips, Baked Masala Peanuts, Baked Noodle wrapped Potato bundles, Baked Okra (Lady’s finger) fries, Baked Onion Pakoda, Baked Mini Samosa, Baked Navratna Mixture.
Making Baked Masala Vada
For those of you who haven’t had Masala Vada, it’s essentially just the Indian version of the middle eastern Falafels.
Both recipes use chickpeas (falafels use whole chickpeas, Masala Vada uses Split Chickpeas a.k.a Channa Dal) – you should be able to find these in any Indian grocery store.
Like all other lentils and grains, these must be soaked too. (Here’s why you need to soak your lentils). I usually soak these for 1-2 hours, until I can ‘cut’ through the lentil with my nails.
Then grind the channa dal (split chickpeas) with cumin seeds, fennel seeds, green chillies, ginger, garlic and salt. Stir in chopped onions, cilantro, oil and baking soda.
Divide the batter equally into balls and pat down to a disk about 1/2″ thick. Brush or spray with more oil and then bake!
Honestly, these Baked Masala Vada were just as crisp as it was deep-fried! Another one of my favorite deep-fried foods, now perfectly fine when baked! If you don’t believe me, try and see for yourself!!
And as it bakes, don’t forget to make yourself some hot coffee or tea. This Baked Masala Vada (crispy lentil fritter) is just the prefect evening snack when accompanied by a hot cup of your favorite beverage!