Best Savory Doughnuts – Crispy and Soft Medu Vada Recipe

My friend Deepali showed me this awesome snack recipe from South India, and it’s become my favorite savory munch. They are called Medu Vada, but I just call them savory doughnuts. They are super crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, which is amazing. They are made from lentils, so they are not only tasty but also quite nutritious.

medu vada on a serving dish

Medu Vada Recipe Ingredients

Would you believe me if I told you that as long as you have lentils and spices at home, you can have freshly made savory donuts whenever you want?

Medu Vada Recipe Ingredients

The beauty of this snack is how customizable it is. However, these ingredients below are needed for an authentic, traditional South Indian medu vada.

1. Urad Dal: The most crucial medu vada ingredient in this recipe. Urad dal is a must-have part of South Indian cuisine and is readily available in most Indian grocery stores. It is prepared by splitting and dehusking vigna mungo, a type of lentil.

It has a creamy white color and a neutral flavor, making it versatile enough to match multiple ingredients and flavors.

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2. Rice Flour: You can make medu vada without rice flour, but the dough can be more challenging. Adding a small amount of rice flour can make urad dal paste more manageable and compact, which can help it retain its shape as you form it.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free White Rice Flour, 24 Ounce (Pack of 1)


3. Salt and Pepper: The bare minimum seasoning you need to go further! Ideally, you will use more than just salt and pepper, but you can stick to these basics if you’re sensitive to most flavors.

4. Hing: Also called asafetida, it is a savory and pungent spice commonly used in Asian cuisine. Its strong scent fades away after cooking, and it leaves behind a delicious flavor that enhances savory dishes. Hing gives this dish its authentic Indian taste, but you can skip it if you don’t like the smell.

Pure Indian Foods Best Hing Ever (Asafoetida Powder) - Indian Spice for Garlic & Onion Substitute, 20g Glass Bottle (NOT Tested for Gluten 1PK, 0.71 Ounce)


7. Jeera: Jeera is nothing more than dried cumin seeds. For the recipe, it is best to have the cumin seeds whole rather than ground into powder to give the medu vada a slight bite. Flavor-wise, they add a touch of savory and aromatic zest.

Ramaroma Cumin Seeds Whole (Jeera) Spice 3.5oz (100g) ~ All Natural | NON-GMO | 100% Vegan, Gluten Free | Quality Indian Spice, Fresh Natural Jeera


5. Green Chili: They add a tangy, sharp flavor and the most minuscule spiciness. You can always opt for a spicier type of chili if you want to take the heat up to eleven!

6. Coriander: You can add coriander leaves (also known as cilantro) to give the medu vada a green and fresh touch. However, some people can’t stand the taste of cilantro, so it’s okay to avoid it if it’s not your favorite herb.

8 Ginger Paste: If you like your donuts to have a dash of heat and zing, ginger paste is what you need. You can also opt for grated or chopped ginger according to your tastes, but the paste can help the flavor spread more evenly throughout the dough.

Here is the Step-by-Step Guide How to Make Medu Vada

medu vada served with coconut chutney

This medu vada recipe is incredibly easy! You can have mouth-watering, savory donuts within minutes. And the best part? You can customize them however you want!

The steps Deepali taught me are foolproof and yielded the best results, so allow me to break them down for you.

1. Prepare the Urad Dal Overnight

Rinse one cup of urad dal in cold water and let it soak overnight. If you can’t do it the night before, ensure you can soak them for at least four hours.

urad dal beans in a glass jar

Afterward, you will notice the lentils absorbed the water, increased in size, and turned soft and smooth—that means they’re ready! Use a strainer to drain out as much water as possible.

using a strainer to drain out the water

2. Make the Urad Dal Paste

Once the urad dal is soft and plump, pour it into a blender or food processor. Add two tablespoons of water and blend until you get a thick, smooth paste that looks slightly fluffy. Don’t worry if you see small chunks of lentils—the critical part is that the paste is easy to shape.

adding water to the urad dal in a food processor

If you find it too thick to blend properly, add a bit more water as needed. However, be careful not to make it too runny—less water is always the best option. If you’re unsure about the texture, you can watch the video tutorial for a visual guide!

scooping out the paste using a spatula

3. Time to Mix and Add the Basic Seasoning

Once you finish blending, use a spatula to scoop out the paste and pour it inside a clean mixing bowl. Immediately after, add the hing and salt for a truly savory donut, then give it all a good mix with the spatula until well-combine and smooth.

Afterward, clean the edges of the bowl with the spatula and cover it with a plate. Now, it’s time to let the mixture rest for at least ten minutes to help it set and absorb the flavors better.

covering the batter with a plate

4. Mix Air into the Paste

After you’ve let the batter sit for ten minutes, grab a whisk or an electric mixer and whisk it energetically to incorporate air. How long it takes will depend on your mixing method, but you will notice the batter will turn lighter and fluffier.

whisking the batter

Deepali shared with me the perfect trick to figure out the ideal fluffy point: scoop a little bit of the batter and drop it in a glass full of water. If it floats, it’s good to go!

5. Incorporate the Add-Ons to the Batter

Once the batter is fluffy and airy enough, add the rest of the medu vada ingredients: rice flour, black pepper, jeera, green chili, ginger paste, and coriander.

mixing the ingredients using a wooden spatula

 With the help of a silicon or wooden spatula, fold the ingredients into the batter and mix for one to two minutes or until just combined. Remember: we don’t want to lose the air we just incorporated, so don’t overmix!

5. Shape and Fry the Savory Donuts

Pour approximately two to three inches of oil on a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed frying pan. Heat the oil till it reaches 350-375°F (176-190°C).

While the oil heats up, dip your fingers in cold water to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and grab a small portion of the batter. Carefully roll it into a sphere and sink your finger in the center to give it a donut shape.

frying the donuts in a pan

Place the donuts into the hot frying oil and deep fry for two to three minutes, flipping it until both sides turn a gorgeous golden-brown shade. Be careful not to overcrowd the frying pan, as the donuts may stick together or become difficult to flip.

6. Serve and Enjoy

After cooking, remove the medu vada from the oil and set them on a banana leaf or paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

medu vada on a banana leaf

You can eat them immediately while hot or enjoy them warm alongside sambar, chutney, yogurt, or any other dip or side you prefer!

Suggestions, Tips, and Tricks

medu vada and side dishes on a banana leaf

1. No urad dal? No problem: Urad dal is just lentils. If you can’t find premade urad dal, use whatever available lentils you have at hand. Ideally, they should be split and dehusked, but you can also use whole lentils—just be aware that the texture and flavor will be different.

2. Refrigerate the dough beforehand: If you have issues shaping or handling your batter, refrigerate it for at least two hours. Cooling the mixture will harden it slightly, making it easier to give it shape ahead of frying.

3. Season to taste: While Deepali’s recipe is mouth-watering, remember you can customize the seasoning and add-ons to suit your tastes. You can add finely chopped onions, garlic powder, or even cheese!

4. How to Fix Runny Batter: If you added too much water while blending the urad dal, it’s easy to fix. Just incorporate a few tablespoons of rice flour as you see fit. Continue until it reaches the desired consistency you see in the tutorial video.

Crispy and Soft Medu Vada Recipe

Recipe by Jen Evansy
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: SidesCuisine: South IndianDifficulty: Easy


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This Medu Vada recipe transforms humble lentils into crispy, fluffy delights, a staple of South Indian cuisine. Perfect as a snack with your favorite chutneys or as a complement to a hearty meal, these savory doughnuts introduce a taste of South India to your dining experience. Whether enjoyed as part of a breakfast spread or as an afternoon treat, Medu Vada brings a piece of traditional culinary artistry straight to your kitchen.

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  • 1 cup (200 grams) Urad Dal

  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) Rice Flour

  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) Salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) Black Pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) Hing (Asafetida)

  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) Jeera (Cumin Seeds)

  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) Green Chili, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) Coriander Leaves, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) Ginger Paste

  • Cooking Oil for frying (enough to fill the pan 2-3 inches)


  • Prepare the Urad Dal: Rinse 1 cup (200 grams) urad dal under cold water and soak overnight or for at least four hours. After soaking, drain the water thoroughly.
  • Make the Urad Dal Paste: Transfer the soaked urad dal to a blender. Add minimal water (start with two tablespoons) and blend to a thick, smooth paste. Ensure the batter is not too runny; it should be fluffy and hold shape.
  • Season the Batter: Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) hing and 1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt. Mix well, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Incorporate Air: After resting, whisk the batter vigorously (by hand or electric mixer) until light and fluffy. Test if it’s ready by dropping a small amount into water; it should float.
  • Add Final Ingredients: Gently fold in 1/4 cup (30 grams) rice flour, 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) black pepper, 1 teaspoon (2 grams) jeera, 2 tablespoons (30 grams) finely chopped green chili, 2 tablespoons (30 grams) finely chopped coriander leaves, and 1 tablespoon (15 grams) ginger paste into the batter.
  • Shape and Fry: Heat cooking oil in a pan to 350-375°F (176-190°C). Wet your hands, take a portion of the batter, form it into a ball, then create a hole in the center to make a donut shape. Fry each medu vada until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • Serve: Drain on paper towels or a banana leaf. Serve hot with chutney or sambar.

Recipe Video


  • Soaking Time: Ensure the urad dal is soaked adequately, preferably overnight. Proper soaking not only makes grinding easier but also contributes to the fluffiness of the medu vadas.
  • Grinding Technique: While grinding the urad dal, use as little water as possible to achieve the right consistency. The batter should be thick and smooth. Overly watery batter will not hold its shape and will absorb too much oil when frying.
  • Batter Consistency: After grinding, beat the batter well until it becomes light and fluffy. This helps incorporate air into the batter, which is crucial for soft and fluffy vadas. You can test if the batter is ready by dropping a small amount into a bowl of water; it should float.
  • Temperature of the Oil: Ensure the oil is at the correct temperature before frying (about 350-375°F or 176-190°C). If the oil is not hot enough, the vadas will absorb excess oil and become greasy. If it’s too hot, the outside will burn before the inside cooks.
  • Shaping Vadas: Wet your hands with water each time you shape the vadas to prevent the batter from sticking to your hands. This makes it easier to form the perfect doughnut shape with a hole in the center.
  • Uniform Size: Try to keep all the vadas the same size and thickness to ensure they cook evenly. Using a small ice cream scoop or spoon can help you measure the same amount of batter for each vada.
  • Frying in Batches: Do not overcrowd the frying pan; fry the vadas in batches if necessary. This ensures that the temperature of the oil does not drop significantly, which can result in soggy medu vadas.
  • Drain Excess Oil: After frying, place the vadas on a paper towel or wire rack to drain any excess oil. This helps keep them crisp longer and reduces the greasiness.

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This Medu Vada recipe recipe genuinely surprised me. It’s this nice mix of crunchy on the outside but still airy and soft inside, really capturing that authentic South Indian flavor. And honestly, it was pretty straightforward to make.

It’s got me excited to try more South Indian recipes. Stick around if you’re up for some tasty adventures—I’ve got some more flavorful experiments lined up that I think you’ll really enjoy: I Baked This Roast Paan Recipe And It Came Out Golden And Crunchy To Perfection!

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About Jen Evansy

Nutritionist, researcher, avid home cook, and writer interested in everything nutrition and food-related. Striving to inform, encourage, and inspire all the readers to make healthy and informed choices when it comes to cooking, food, diet, and nutrition.