Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Varalakshmi Vratam - Ulli Garelu/ Vada

In continuation with my previous post, this one is to share with you my recipe for vada. These are called garelu, minapa garelu or ulli garelu in Andhra Pradesh. It is a mandatory offering to the Goddess Lakshmi for Varalakshmi vratam and after the worship (puja) is over it is also offered to another married woman assumed to be the Goddess.
Other than as an offering to Gods, it is also kind of a royal breakfast item. If you visit an Andhra household and you are served Garelu for breakfast, it means that you are being treated as King or even God. When the bride-groom first (and every subsequent time) visits his in-laws' house, he will be served Garelu along with lots of other foods of course. Garelu are a favourite in my family, both before and after marriage and i seemed to be the exception. It was only after i started making them myself that i started to appreciate the taste, texture and richness of this fritter type snack. Now i look forward to making them, for more opportunities to serve to my husband and in-laws, and to eat them too :)
  • 2 cups Black gram/ Minapa pappu/ Urad dal - black skins removed
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6-8 green chilies, according to taste
  • 2 teaspoon ginger paste, or 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • salt to taste, about 2 teaspoons
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • oil for deep frying
Soak the black gram in water for 3-4 hours or overnight. Wash a couple of times and drain the water completely. Grind the black gram, chilies and ginger together in a mixer or food processor adding very little water to make a thick, smooth paste. Use maximum of half cup water for 2 cups of black gram. Grind the soaked the dal in parts depending on the size of your mixer. Remove to a bowl and mix the onions, salt and coriander, if using. I didn't use coriander this time, but generally do.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a deep pan/ kadai. Keep a bowl of water handy. Wet both hands with water and place a small ball of batter onto your left palm. Pat into an even round shape about 1 cm thick and make a hole in the centre. Once again wet your right hand fingers, carefully transfer the shaped batter onto the right hand fingers (without misshaping it) and gently drop into the hot oil. Fry till golden brown on both sides and remove to a serving plate. Serve with coconut chutney on festival days and chicken curry on others. They taste good by themselves too.
I couldn't get all the process photos this time because i hand my hands full and i was cooking these before the husband woke up. Maybe next time..

La's tips: To check whether the oil is hot enough, drop a small piece of batter into the oil. It should hit the bottom of the pan and immediately rise to the top.
You can use a thick polythene sheet to shape the vada batter if you can't manage it on your hand.
You can fry as many vada simultaneously as will fit your pan in a single layer. And as many as you can manage without burning the ones already in the pan. I can only manage about 4 at a time, so i use a small pan.
Linking this to the event Flavours of South India at Simply.Food. My first participation in an online food blogging event.


  1. yummy and crispy vadas. Loved to see all the offerings for the pooja. So neatly done.

  2. This is the mixie I miss here in bahrain. cannot do much with a blender. A lot of delicacies I cannot try because it calls for near-dry grinding.

    A food processor is a must now. Thanks for reminding me, I need to make a case to buy one soon.

    The vadas look yummy. I have tried this vada a few months ago and made the paste using my blender. It turned out okay.

  3. Actually my mixer is more show than work. When we first bought it like within a month of our wedding, i had no intention of cooking much. So bought a mixer cum juicer with a low wattage. It now makes good carrot juice, but it goes kaput for near-dry grinding. So i actually use more water for my vada batter than is generally recommended. Hush hush now :)

  4. Crispy vadas.. Love that !!
    You have a lovely space , glad to follow you :-))
    Do drop by my space too
    Erivum Puliyum

  5. Crispy garelu.Looks so nice.here is a small correction.We should not use onions in garelu when we intend to offer to goddess lakshmi.And you can add some kennels of soaked udad dal directly to bring more crispyness to the dish according to your taste.


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