Vada Curry

Vada Curry is a very popular South Indian side dish, specially in Chennai which is served along with idli, dosa, pongal. It is a famous breakfast recipe and it is very unique. It is very famous in all restaurants around Chennai.

This recipe is an interesting and flavorful one, made by deep frying vada first and then adding it to the rich onion, tomato and coconut gravy.

As I said before, this dish is prepared in many steps. Chana dal is soaked for 2 hours, the water is drained out and then grinded to coarse without adding water. Deep frying them into vadas, splitting it into small pieces and finally adding it to the onion, tomato and coconut gravy is the final step.

The spices used in this recipe and the measurement is very perfect. You can follow the same if you could eat little spicy. Otherwise adjust accordingly.

As I couldn’t get fresh curry leaves anywhere here, I have used sun dried one’s. But it’s always good to use the fresh one’s for good aroma. I haven’t used garam masala as I don’t prefer it much.

The flavor comes from the ginger garlic, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and the briyani spices used. There is no replacement for this recipe due to the rich flavor and the taste.

Let us check the recipe for the unique vada curry.


1 cup= 200 ml.

To make vada:

  • Chana dal- 1 cup ( soaked in water for 2 hours)
  • Red chillies- 4
  • Fennel seeds- 1/4th tsp
  • Salt- as needed.

To make gravy:

  • Onion- 2 ( finely chopped)
  • Tomato- 2 ( finely chopped)
  • Ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Green chillies- 3 ( slit lengthwise)
  • Chilli powder with coriander powder mix- 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tsp ( powdered)
  • Fennel seeds- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- 1/4th tsp
  • Coconut- 2 pieces ( grinded with water to make 1 cup)
  • Bay leaf- 1
  • Cinnamon- 1 inch
  • Cloves- 4
  • Cardamom- 2
  • Star aniseed- 1
  • Coriander leaves- handful
  • Salt- as needed.


Soak 1 cup of chana dal in water for 2 hours, drain the water out.
Take the “to make vada” ingredients in a mixer and grind it to coarse. Do not add water when grinding.
Grinded to coarse.
Heat oil in a pan and make small balls of the grinded vada mix. When making small balls, it gets crisp outside and cooks fast inside too. Deep fry them to golden brown in medium flame on all the sides. I fried in two sets.
Once fried to golden brown, move it to the kitchen towel to filter the oil.
Make it into half and keep it in a plate separate. If you made big vadas then break it into 4 small pieces.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan or kadai. I used sesame oil. Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, star aniseed, cardamom, 1 tsp fennel seeds. Saute them. Then add the finely chopped onions.
Saute till the onions get translucent.
Once the onions are translucent, add the green chillies and saute it.
Then add the curry leaves. Saute everything together for a minute.
Then add the ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell of the ginger garlic goes away.
Once the raw smell of the ginger garlic goes away, add the finely chopped tomatoes and saute till the tomatoes turn soft.
Once the tomatoes turn soft, add the chilli powder with coriander powder mix, turmeric powder, cumin seeds powder and salt. Saute everything together for a minute.
Add little water and cook it for 1 more minute.
The masalas are cooked and combined with onion, tomato.
Now add 1 cup of grinded coconut pieces with water.
Add 2 and a half to 3 cups of water to make the gravy thin and boil it for 5 more minutes in medium flame till the oil separates on top. Note that the gravy should be thin at this point as once adding the vada pieces, it is going to absorb the water and the gravy will thicken automatically.
Once you could see oil separating on top, add the vada pieces.
Cook it for 3 to 4 more minutes in medium flame.
It is ready.
Garnish with coriander leaves.


  • Use fresh curry leaves if you have.
  • If you don’t have chilli powder with coriander powder mix, you can add them separately in 1:2 ratio.
  • The vadas can be steamed too instead of deep frying.