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Sardali Vaday

Urad dal is a very common lentil or as we call it a pulse that is found in almost each South Indian home. It is used in the whole or split forms both with and without the black skin on. Urad dal has a good number of amino acids and gets a complete protein profile with all amino acids when combined with a grain like rice. It has a low glycaemic index and because it also contains indigestible fibre it helps in maintaining sugar levels by releasing energy slowly. It is a good source of carbohydrates, iron, calcium and smaller amounts of lipids, all of which may support the growth of bones and help improve heart conditions. Urad dal when eaten with its skin on is a good source of prebiotics as the indigestible skin stimulates the growth of helpful bacteria in the intestine thus improving gut health. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in urad dal may help reduce the impact of free radicals that damage cells thus preventing conditions like cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and atherosclerosis, and the phenolics, tannins, flavonoids, and phytic acid may help keep the liver and kidney in good order. Chana is eaten in both the whole and split forms and as besan or the ground form all over India. It is considered to be a great source for muscular health and better immunity as it has 13 grams of protein in every 100 grams. The folate in chana dal may help prevent diseases like stroke, dementia, and depression and the calcium in it can help in preventing osteoporosis and improve bone density. Like urad dal, chana dal has a good amount of fibre and a low glycaemic index making it a good option for maintaining sugar levels and increasing the feeling of satiety faster. The healthy fats in chana have antioxidant properties that may help reduce inflammation. Most importantly, pulses help restore soil fertility by fixing nitrogen in it.

Recipe credit: Darshana Muzumdar

Serves 4-6 as part of a traditional Indian breakfast.


  • ¾ cups urad dal (black gram dal)
  • ¾ cups channa dal (Bengal gram dal)
  • ¼ fresh coconut, grated (½ cup grated coconut)
  • 3-4 green chillies; use fewer if the chillies are very spicy
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Groundnut oil for deep frying.


  • Wash the two dals and soak them together for around 3 to 4 hours.
  • Drain them well in a strainer and grind them coarsely into a dry mixture adding as little water as possible.
  • Chop green chillies and curry leaves fine, add them to the ground dals along with the coconut and salt and mix it all well. Keep the mixture covered in a warm place for 12 to 16 hours to ferment. It should rise and become light and fluffy.
  • Mix the fermented mixture gently releasing all the air in it.
  • Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Take portions of the mixture with a spoon and drop it into the hot oil. Fry the vadas till reddish brown turning them over when one side is brown. Remove with a spatula allowing as much oil to drain away as possible. Use paper napkins placed on a plate if necessary to absorb the extra oil.
  • Serve these crisp on the outside and spongy and light from the inside vadas with any wet chutney from this cookbook.

For the Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) version:

  • For the whole food version use the urad dal with the skin on and try baking the wadeys or using an appe (or paniyaram) pan with no oil and cooking the vadas by covering the pan.
  • Turn the vadas over to cook the other side after one side is done.
  • Chutneys are usually whole plant-based so enjoy the vadas with any of the wet chutneys from this recipe book.

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