Masala Vada

Anaheim’s are very popular in Southwestern US Cuisine.Also called “New Mexican Chile”. These were developed by Dr. Fabian Garcia in New Mexico about 100 yrs ago who was seeking a chile pepper that was bigger, fleshier, and milder.

They got the name “Anaheim” when a farmer named Emilio Ortega brought these seeds to the Anaheim area in the early 1900′s. This chile can be roasted and peeled and used in recipes or stuffed to make chile rellenos just as the Poblano Chile.

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2 cups urad dal
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp ginger garlic paste (see tips)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp baking powder (optional)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup milk (or water), or more as needed
1 Anaheim pepper
1 Serrano green chile pepper
1 Tbsp green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 quart canola oil (or any neutral oil), for deep frying, as needed


Prepping the chiles: Stem, seed and finely chop both chiles. Set aside.

Soaking the urad dal: In a bowl, wash the urad dal thoroughly. Pick out and discard any badly-shaped lentils, then soak them for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Drain as much liquid as possible. Set aside.

How to make vada batter:
In a blender, combine the soaked urad dal, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, cumin seeds, garam masala and baking powder (if used). Drizzle with a little milk for a smooth flow. Process until the batter has a smooth, yet thick consistency.

Transfer to a large bowl. Add the finely chopped chiles and green bell pepper. Season with salt. Finish with the cilantro leaves. Stir well.

Making vadas:
Layer a cooling rack, previously lined with paper towels if you like, on top of a baking sheet (for easy clean-up of the drained oil).

In a large Dutch oven (or any regular deep-fryer), heat the oil for about 2-3 minutes over high heat. There should be at least a 2-inch-high level of oil. Wait until the oil is slightly bubbly (not too hot).

Test the oil by dropping a teaspoon of vada batter into the hot oil. It should float but not swell.

Place 2-tablespoon mounds of vada batter at a time in the hot oil. Place up to 8-10 vadas per batch.

Fry in batches. Make sure the vadas don’t touch each other. Lower the heat to medium-low for even cooking and to prevent them from browning too fast. Deep fry for about 5 minutes per batch until golden. Flip each piece using a spider skimmer and cook for about a minute until crispy on both sides. Delicately lift each fritter, draining as much oil as possible and transfer them on the cooling rack. Continue with the rest of the vadas.

This recipe yields 36 fritters for 6 servings.

Serve immediately with the vada chutney on the side.