Spicy Vada Curry for Breakfast!

In South India, we take “Eat Breakfast like a King” very seriously 🙂 Deep fried vadai for breakfast? Why not? If you love vadai as much as I do, then you will absolutely go crazy over this curry. A south Indian breakfast recipe prepared by soaking deep fried masala vadai in a simple tomato gravy with coconut milk. Crispy texture from the vadai, tangy sharpness from the tomatoes and creaminess from coconut milk makes it incredibly tasty. I tried this for the very first time in Karaikudi, a heritage town in Tamil Nadu, famous for its palatial houses and unique cuisine.  Typically, in restaurants it’s served with Dosai or Idli, but I’m sure it will taste good with rice/roti as well.

Vada curry with water mark

To make Crispy Vadai you’ll need:

Channa dal – 1 cup

Fennel seeds – 1 tsp

Dried Red chili – 3-4

To make the gravy you’ll need:

Onion – 1 cup (finely chopped)

Tomatoes – 1 cup (finely chopped)

Ginger (finely grated) – 1 tsp

Garlic (crushed) – 1 tsp

Whole spices- (Cardamom pods (2), cloves (3), bay leaf (1), cinnamon stick (1 inch), star anise (1))

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Red chili powder – 2tsp

Turmeric powder – ½ tsp

Coriander powder – 2tsp

Fennel powder- 1 tsp

Coconut milk – 1 cup

Coriander leaves

Curry leaves



  1. Soak channa dal in water for 2-3 hours, drain completely and grind it into a coarse mixture with fennel seeds, red chili and salt.
  2. Deep fry the contents into tiny balls and set aside.
  3. Heat 1tbsp of oil in a sauté pan and add all the whole spices and cumin seeds. Now add onion and sauté till it turns translucent.
  4. Add ginger/garlic and sauté for an additional couple of minutes till the raw flavor of garlic disappears.
  5. Add all the dry spice powders including turmeric, chili, coriander and fennel powder. Sauté well for another minute.
  6. Now add diced tomato and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Add coconut milk and cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes. (Make sure there is enough gravy to soak up all the vadais that we are going to add at the final step. If you feel the gravy is beginning to thicken then add some water to get the right consistency)
  8. Now add the vadai and let it cook for another 5-6 minutes so that the vadai soaks up all the gravy.
  9. Garnish with curry leaves and coriander leaves.

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