Uddina vade / Medhu vade / Spicy lentil donuts

These spicy, melt in your mouth, vadas are great as snacks, or as a perk with breakfasts like idli (steamy rice cakes) or khara pongal. They taste out of the world with tomato sambhar (another version of lentil curry) or mint chutney. This is our South Indian style of deep fried donuts.

What I used: Makes about 12 medium sized vadas
1 cup uddina bele / Urad Dhal / split black gram
4 green chilies finely chopped
½ tsp finely grated ginger
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
½ tsp whole pepper seeds (optional)
2 tsp fresh or dry coconut (optional)
2 cups vegetable oil to deep fry
Salt to taste

Soak the dhal in water for 3-4 hours. Drain and grind it in a blender until smooth. Add a little water to make it into a thick paste.  

Add oil to a deep fry pan and heat on medium high.  Mix all the chopped ingredients, pepper and salt into the ground batter. You need to make this batter into a donut shape before lowering it into the oil. 

Now, the traditional way is to wet the palm of your hand, place batter, the size of a lemon, make a hole in the center, then gently ease it out of the palm and lay it into a sizzling oil. Just listening to that makes me dizzy. It is really tricky, but I am not complaining, there are people who can do it in a snap. I am not one of them.

My way is, to fill a Ziploc bag with batter, cut a hole thick enough to let out a finger thick batter at the tip. Then press the batter into the oil, as if you were making little rings. You can also use a piping bag, with a large nozzle. Works for me, try it.
Test the heat of the oil with a little blob of the batter. If it sizzles right away and floats up, we are good. Reduce the heat a notch, and fry them to a golden brown on both sides. Drain the excess oil by placing them in a dry colander or on a tissue paper. Serve hot with sambhar or chutney. Enjoy!