Vadas can vary in shape and size, but are usually either doughnut- or disc-shaped and are between 5 and 8 cm across. They are made from dal, lentil, gram flour or potato.
The Vada is a traditional South Indian food known from antiquity. Although they are commonly prepared at home, Vadas are as well a typical street food in the Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka. They are usually a high calorie morning food, typically about 300 Kilocal each, but in street stalls and in railway stations, as well as inside the Indian Railways, they are available as a snack all day. It is known as Vades in South Africa, where a large south Indian population is found .
Although battered and deep-fried, the finished product should not be too oily if prepared correctly, since steam build-up within the vadai pushes all oil away from within the vadai.
ulundhu vadai boiling
Vada is typically and traditionally served along with a main course such as Dosa, Idli, or Pongal. Nowadays it is also ordered as an À la carte item but is never the main course and is had as a light snack or on the side of another dish and usually not separately as a meal. Vadas are preferably eaten freshly fried, while still hot and crunchy and is served with a variety of dips ranging from Sambar to chutney to curd.
Medhu vadai or ulundhu vadai(Tamil), Uddina vade (Kannada ಉದ್ದಿನ ವಡೆ), Malayalam: ഉഴുന്നു വട Uzhunnu vada, Tamil: ulundhu vadai), Medhu vadai, made with Urad dal (black gram) flour. This vadai is shaped like a doughnut, with a hole in the middle (i.e. an approximate torus). It is the most common vadai type throughout North and South India.
'Masala vadai or paruppu vadai'(Tamil), 'Masala Vade'(Kannada : ಮಸಾಲ ವಡೆ), 'Masala Vada' (Telugu) Malayalam: പരിപ്പ് വട). A dal vadai whose main ingredient is toor dal. It is made with the whole lentils and is shaped roughly like a flying saucer. Also referred to as 'aamai vadai' (Tamil ஆமை வடை) since this vadai looks like a tortoise.
Other types of vadai are:
Maddur vade (Kannada: ಮದ್ದೂರು ವಡೆ) is a type of onion vadai unique to the state of Karnataka. It is very popular in Maddur district of Karnataka and has a very different taste from any other vadais. This is typically larger than other vadai types, flat, crispy (to the point of breaking when flexed) and having no hole in the middle.
Ambode, made from 'split chickpeas without the seed coat' i.e. 'kadale bele' in Kannada.
Mosaru Vade(Kannada:ಮೊಸರು ವಡೆ), made by cooking a vadai normally, and then serving the vadai in a mix of yogurt and spices).
EruLLi bajji (Kannada:'ಈರುಳ್ಳಿ ಬಜ್ಜಿ’) (Malayalam:'Uli vada'), made with onion. It is roughly round-shaped, and may or may not have a hole in the middle.
Bonda, or Batata vadai, made with potatoes, garlic and spices coated with lentil paste and fried; this form is used in vada pav. In some regions, a Bonda is considered a distinct snack food, and is not held to be a type of vadai.
Sabudana vadai is another variety of vadai popular in Maharashtra, made from Pearl Sago.
Thavala vadai, a vadai made with different types of lentils.
Keerai Vadai (Spinach Vadai) is made with spinach-type leaf vegetables along with lentils.