Masala Vadai (Lentil Dumplings in a Warm Yogurt Sauce)

Reza Mahammad serves up crisp-fried lentil dumplings in a creamy yogurt sauce in this mouth-watering meat-free feast
By Reza Mahammad
Masala Vadai (Lentil Dumplings in a Warm Yogurt Sauce)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: Serves 4-6 (yields 15-20 dumplings)
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes plus 3 hrs soaking
  • Effort: medium


For the lentil dumplings

  • 85 g splitPuy lentils
  • 85 g white lentils
  • 85 g yellow split peas
  • 1 litres water
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 5 cm ginger, grated finely
  • 1/2 tsp ground asafoetida
  • 1 small bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying

For the yogurt sauce

  • 950 ml plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp grated coconut
  • 2-4 green chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

For the tempering

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-6 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp white lentils
  • 1 red chilli, quartered

For the garnish

  • 1-2 tbsp chopped coriander


1. Wash the lentils in warm water, before soaking in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain and cover with boiling water; soak for a further 2-3 hours.

2. Drain any excess water from the lentils and place either in a food processor or blender. Blend to a thick batter consistency.

3. Add the curry leaves and continue to blend for a few more seconds.

4. Remove the batter and place in a large mixing bowl, leave to stand for 15 minutes.

5. Add the chopped onions, chillies, ginger, asafoetida and coriander leaves. Season the batter with salt and combine thoroughly. The batter should have a thick consistency to make dumplings.

6. Heat the oil in a wok or deep pan.

7. Take a small ladleful of the batter and place it the palm of your hand. With wet hands, work the batter into a small dumpling, the size of a doughnut.

8. Gently slide the dumpling into the oil. Continue until all the batter is used up, frying each dumpling until it is crisp and golden brown. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper and set aside.

9. To make the yogurt sauce, place two thirds of the yogurt in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.

10. Combine the grated coconut, green chillies, cumin seeds and some salt with the remainder of the yogurt in a food processor or blender. Blend to a very smooth paste. Add this mixture to the yogurt and combine thoroughly.

11. For the tempering, heat the oil till it begins to smoke and then add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds begin to pop and crackle, add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves and the white lentils, and continue to stir. A lovely nutty aroma will exude from the pan.

12. Add the red chilli, stir for a few more seconds and add this mixture to the yogurt.

13. To serve, pour half the yogurt onto an oval dish or serving bowl and then arrange the dumplings on top. Spoon over the remainder of the yogurt, garnish with coriander and serve.

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