Crispy doughnut shaped fritters made with seasoned black gram (lentil) batter.
Soak the urad dal in plenty of water and for at least 3 hours.
Drain the soaked urad dal and grind into a smooth paste in a blender using as little water as necessary (2 to 3 tablespoons of chilled water). If the blender seems to heat up turn off the machine and let it cool before proceeding.
The process of grinding incorporates air into the batter making it light and fluffy like whipping cream. Drop a little batter in a bowl of water. The batter should float.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the chopped onions, pepper, curry leaves, ginger , asafoetida and salt to it . Mix well, taste and adjust salt as necessary.
Pour oil into a frying pan covering the bottom by about 1 inch. Heat the oil to almost its smoking point. Drop a little bit of batter into the hot oil , if it sizzles and floats to top the oil is ready for frying.
Wet the fingers and scoop a lemon sized ball of batter. Make a small hole in the center and slip it into the waiting oil . Repeat and make a few more vadas. (see pictures above)
Keep the heat at medium to medium low and fry the vadas turning a 2 to 3 times to brown all sides evenly.
When all sides are light brown , take off the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towels. Repeat the process until all the batter is used up.
Serve wit coconut chutney or sambar.