If you thought the Gods only favoured their ambrosial sweets, think again. Sandhya Ramachandran says that the Ulundu vadai holds its own during festivals, in the South. 

Flashback to ‘paati vadai sutta’ kadhai, or in other words, that Tamil folktale of the granny who made vadais that a crafty crow stole, only to lose it to a wily fox. Most people know vadai’s after the famous Medu vada – one of the country's favourite South Indian snacks.

Queen of these crispy treats, the ulundu vadai as it is better known down South, is a must-have offering to the deity before prayers. This one is usually consumed during auspicious occasions but the elephant God also demands it on his birthday, and rightfully so.


Black lentils                   - 250gms

Green chillies                 - 4-5

Curry Leaves                  - 6 to 8

Asafoetida                        - 1/4tsp

Oil to deep fry                 -  250 ml

Salt to Taste


Wash and Soak black lentils for half an hour. Strain the excess water from the lentils, add green chillies and curry leaves. With just enough water, grind this mix to a paste. Add some asafoetida after grinding. In a deep pan, heat some oil. With damp hands, take some dough and flatten it on your palm. Make a hole in the centre and drop it in the oil. Make batches of three or four at a time. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Serve hot with coconut chutney and sambhar.

Ready Made

Medu vadas or ulundu vadai are available everywhere in Tamil Nadu. Street side stalls and luxury hotels alike can’t seem to keep them off the menu. Hotels like Saravana Bhavan (all over the world), Sangeetha and Ananda Bhavan specialize in their vadais.

That apart, The Madaras Kafe sells a fun treat - Spicy Vada holes. These doughnut hole lookalikes are savory dough centres rolled in masala and deep fried. Served with spicy green chilli chutney, these make for one yummy innovation.

So don your chef hats, include your family and try out these recipes to please your tummies and make this festival a truly fun one.