Paruppu Vadai


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


Appears in

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

By Bree Hutchins

Published 2013

  • About

Vadai is a savoury snack, or ‘short eat’ as Sri Lankans call them, made from deep-fried pulses. There is paruppu vadai made from chana dhal and ulundu vadai made from black gram. Malathi made her vadai from chana dhal; they were incredibly moreish, especially when accompanied with a cup of hot, sweet milky tea.


  • 400 g (14 oz/2 cups) chana dhal*, soaked in water for 4 hours
  • 1 red onion*, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, ground into a paste
  • 4 dried long red chillies*, stalks removed and chopped
  • ½ long green chilli*, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • teaspoons salt
  • about 1 tablespoon plain flour (optional)
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying


Drain the soaked dhal, then rinse and drain again thoroughly. Using a food processor, process the dhal into a coarse paste (without adding any water). Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Pulse the chopped onion in the processor for a few seconds, then transfer to a small bowl and add the garlic paste, dried chillies, green chilli, curry leaves, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and salt; mix to combine. Add the onion mixture to the dhal paste and mix well with your hands (you don’t need to add any water, as the water released from the onions will be enough). If needed, add a little flour to bring all the ingredients together.

Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of your hand and shape it into a ball the size of a lime, then flatten between the palms of your hands to form a disc approximately 6 cm (2½ inches) in diameter and 1 cm (½ inch) thick. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

Fill a wok one-third full of oil and heat to approximately 160°C (315°F) (a cube of bread dropped into the oil will brown in 30 seconds). Working in batches, deep-fry the vadai for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel and serve hot.