I love my air fryer. The oven baked vadas has been a very popular recipe on this blog. So, naturally, I was ready to try an air fried version… And they puffed up beautifully and tasted like a vada without all the oil and the frying ‘jhanjhat’ (trouble).
Here is the key difference in the process between the 2 vada types:
Fried Vadas = soaking urad + grinding + frying
Baked/Air Fried Vadas = soaking urad + grinding + whipping + baking
The whipping is the extra process to whisk air into the vada batter which then lets the vadas rise in the oven without needing any additional leavener. (You heard that right – no baking soda, no baking powder, no yeast, nada – just the whisking) Isn’t that amazing???
Step by Step photos
There is the soak and grind step just like a regular vada. I soaked the urad dal overnight (any time upward of 2 hours ok) and drained it.
I ground it in the vitamix. I kept adding water little by little, just enough to keep the batter moving.
I stopped adding water when the entire batter was able to blend and grind freely without any additional liquid. Grind till you reach a fine batter stage.
Meanwhile, to a coffee grinder, I added some spices to flavor the vada. You can go super simple from just green chilis and salt to more complicated flavor combinations like curry leaves, ginger, jeera, hing etc.
Do, what works for your family. My daughter does not like ginger, so in 1 of the batches, I eliminated that flavor.
Now, comes the fun part….Plop the dense batter on to your stand mixer.
Now, just let it whip for 2 minutes or so – until it gets light and fluffy!!
Now, add your flavors to the batter.
Run the mixer again – for just enough time to allow the flavor to blend into the batter.
Now, we are ready to bake!!
Piping and baking
You can just use a spoon to ladle the fluffy batter on to the donut pan, but it will be prettier to pipe it using a ziploc bag.
But before that, make sure you brush oil all over the pan, even those crevices at the top. You don’t want the vadas to stick to the pan, when they are done. So, oil the pan thoroughly.
Use your finger tips to lightly brush oil on the top of the vadas too. The batter will not stick to your fingers.
Now place the vada batter in the air fryer…
And watch it rise….
After 14-15 minutes, out comes these beauties!!
Air Fried VadasCuisine: South IndianDifficulty: Moderate
These air fried vegan vadas (Savory South Indian Donuts) are protein rich, gluten free, vegan and delicious!! They do not use any baking soda, baking powder, or yeast to rise. Yet, they are light and healthy!!
Urad Dal – 1 cup
- Flavoring Spices
Green Chili – 2 medium
Curry Leaves – A few
Ginger (1 inch) – optional
Hing – a few pinches (optional)
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp (optional)
Salt – 3/4 tsp
- Soak Urad dal for 2 hours or more. Once they finish soaking, drain the water out. Add urad dal to high speed blender. Add fresh water just enough to get the batter thoroughly grind into a smooth batter.
- Grind the flavorings in your coffee blender to a coarse paste with as little or no water adding: ginger, curry leaves, salt, green chilies
- Transfer the batter to a Stand Mixer and let it whip for 2-3 minutes (Use hand-held appliance or a whisk with your hand alternatively).
- Add the spice mix, hing and jeera (cumin seeds) to the stand mixer and let it run for a few seconds to thoroughly incorporate the spices.
- Thoroughly apply oil on the surface of the donut holes pan. Pipe batter to the pan using a sandwich bag with its end snipped off or just ladle the batter carefully.
- Preheat Air fryer at 400F for a minute. While typically air fryers need no pre-heating, it is good to have the surface heated when you put the tray in. Place pan in the air fryer at 400F for 14-15 minutes.
- Once time is up, pull the pan out and let it rest for a few minutes before you take it out.
- You can broil the back side if you want (optional). Serve it hot!!
What happens if:
I made this vada a few times, and learnt a few tips. Here are some pictures from my trials:
300 F, 20 minutes – (lower temp, longer time)
As you can see, the vadas were slightly less brown than the ones with higher temperature (remember – Maillard reaction, or browning, increases with increasing temps). I flipped the vadas in between, so there was even browning on both sides.
The longer time shrivels the vada a bit, but it also gets quite a bit of the moisture out. So it does not puff down quickly. Tasted quite good too… See the Pinterest link on this recipe here…
400F, 16-17 minutes
If I let the time run longer, then I brown it too much.
So, watch out for the last 2 minutes.
Not oiling well/ taking off vadas without cooling
Without brushing the pan with oil, the vadas stick to the bottom of the pan. So take the time to thoroughly oil the pan. Also, wait a few minutes once they come out of the oven.
Do you want underside crispy?
In this recipe, I did not ask you to flip the vadas, but if you want the underside to be crispy, you can flip it and put it back in the air fryer for a couple of minutes.
I am always just simply amazed at how beautifully Urad dal whisks and puffs up in an oven/air fryer. It is like an amazing vegan egg. The protein content of urad dal is pretty good too!!
Mark my words, this process is going to be famous someday, just remember you saw it first here at the home laboratory of Swetha’s ‘upgrade my food’!! 🙂
Also, remember to eat this vada nice and hot. Otherwise like any baked good, it absorbs moisture over time. If you have to reheat, just pop it back in the air fryer for a few minutes and it will be crunchy again!!
So, do you have an air fryer? Do you like it? Will you try making this air fried vada at home? Post your thoughts and comments below. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
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The donut pan
The cuisinart air fryer I have:
Wow this is incredible ! I’m an Ayurvedic Doctor and u give workshops monthly! I have this air fryer and will buy the donut container and try this as I like that it is egg free and gluten free too. Thank you so much !!
That’s great Angie…so happy to hear that!!
yummy i have tried lot of your recipes including gulab jamun .. all are amazing and healthy. i have a quick question i have round phillip airfryer.. how do i make vada in that?
oohhh…that’s a great question, Ruchika..Some ideas I can think of are: Use a smaller, silicone mold like: https://amzn.to/2HuGifL
Any bunt cake or any mold with the center to help the batter climb and rise will be good.
Also, I also think that since the batter is quite thick…You could try piping some ring shaped vadas straight to the basket. Hopefully they rise well without the mold. Do let me know if you try the recipe and what you discovered.
Thank you for your question and feedback!!