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Masala Muffin Vadai

July 10, 2008


One of my favorite snacks from Tamilnadu is Masala Vadai- its always a treat and something I eat when I’m really letting go and “pigging out”. So, in order to be able to eat it more frequently, I needed to come up with a healthy way of making them. After thinking about it for a very long time, I took the plunge yesterday. I needed some fat in the vadai to maintain its integrity and thought of using Flax seeds and Olive oil for their good fat content. I think sesame oil would also work.

What You Need

  1. 1 Cup chana dal
  2. 1/2 a medium sized onion
  3. 2-3 green chillies 
  4. 1/2 inch piece of ginger (optional)
  5. 6-7 curry leaves
  6. 1 Tsp baking powder
  7. 1 Tbsp Flax seeds
  8. 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  9. Salt to taste

How Its Done

  1. Soak the Chana dal in warm water for about 20 minutes. I rinsed and put the dal in a microwave safe bowl and filled it with enough water to cover the dal. Then heated it for a minute or so till the water heats through and let it soak for about 20 minutes
  2. After 20 minutes, pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  3. Drain the water from the chana and coarsely grind with chopped chillies, ginger and flax seeds. Make sure the dough is thick with very little moisture (add moisture only to make sure your processor runs). 
  4. Mix in the salt, baking powder, olive oil, chopped onions, and curry leaves (coarsely torn by hand).
  5. Prepare a muffin tin with non-stick spray and spoon the mixture into the cavities, filling them 3/4 way up.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes till the tops are golden brown. 
  7. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before taking them out of the muffin tray.
These taste awesome- the unique taste of dal and chillies with a hint of ginger and the sweetness of the onion balancing it all out..mmmm!!  And they’re good for me now that they are no longer deep fried 🙂 . I made 9 muffin vadas. Here’s the nutrition info: Each vada has 104 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat. 

To make them crispy and crunchy (and if you have the time) make patties out of the dough and lay them on a pre-prepared pizza pan. Half way through the cooking time flip them over. Pizza pans have the little holes that prevent moisture from accumulating ensuring that your vadas will be crispy and crunchy!! 


This is my contribution to Mansi’s Healthy Cooking event, an event that epitomizes what I strive to do in every dish I make. Kudos for the wonderful idea, Mansi!
  1. these look absolutely fabulous! and the nutrition info is an added bonus! I love the chana dal idea, there’s no flour either:) wonderful recipe! thanks so much for sending this my way!!:)

  2. TCube Hubby permalink

    I could not believe this was baked – loved it! My favorite junk food from childhood only healthier and with all the taste I remember.

    I am sure you will tinker more on this – how about baking it just muffin top style? Remember the seinfeld episode of just eating muffin tops and starbucks actually had flat baked muffins.

  3. Rekha permalink

    Great idea…Have been toying with the idea of masala vadais for a few months but with all the fat involved didn’t want to deep fry them. And if I start deep frying next will be bajjis, puris and then i am back on the oily path. I’ll try this over the weekend.

    Bet Mohan will scoff the “oil less” version 🙂


  4. Hi This is my first visit to your blog,and I loved the idea of a baked vadai,surprisingly I was recently thinking I should experiment with baking vadai instead of frying since I don’t make vadai any more because of the calorie content and here I see you have already tried it:) Simply wonderful….

  5. Muffin Vada? I had to read the title again, but, when I read the post, it was very befitting. Good one.

  6. Yum! Those look really tasty. Great blog:)

  7. What inspires you in the kitchen? Sometimes I feel at a loss for what to create.

  8. Hi Katie
    I feel like that too sometimes. Mostly my ideas stem from the desire to make healthy and quick versions of our favorite foods. And then there is always that curiosity about new ingredients and vegetables!!
    Thanks for visiting!


  9. I’m glad I found your blog, I want to make these straight away, but I might try mung bean instead.

  10. Hi there is a surprise for you waiting at my blog,Please check it out 🙂

  11. I am surely going to try it! Masala vadai is my fav snack, but after a blender accident trying to make it I’ve not gotten back! The idea of making muffins is surely a great brainwave 🙂

  12. This sounds just delicious and awesome. Will definitely try this and keep you posted.

  13. Priya Raj permalink


    Loved your idea for a baked vada… I was recently thinking about a healthier alternative for vada’s as it’s my hubby’s fav. food and we go through them as if starved 🙂
    Now, I can make them frequently without ever feeling that I’d blow out his arterities someday….
    Thanks a bunch for the receipe

  14. How did I miss your food blog??? How did I not know about it till I came across it by accident?

    This is a fantastic recipe, I’m really excited about trying it this weekend 🙂

  15. You are so innovative! Thanks for this healthy version – now I can eat masala vadais often too:)

  16. Hi this is my first time here. Came from Mansi’s finalist list. This is such a brilliant idea. Will definitely try it out soon.

  17. prasad permalink


    I actually tried this thing without the flak seeds. But my vada’s came a little soft and brittle. Any tips for making a little hard? (btw i dont have a muffin tray. just using a flat one)

  18. Taste Tinkerer permalink

    Hi Prasad – thanks for the feedback. Since you’re omitting the flax seeds, I would recommend adding another tablespoon of oil to the batter. Secondly, when you make the vadais and bake them lightly spray or brush some oil on the vadais. Don’t forget to flip them half way through the baking process, since you’re using a tray (using parchment paper on the tray would also help). For a brown and crispy finish, put them under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes at the end.
    Let me know how it works out.

  19. Geeta permalink

    I tried this out.. loved the idea, and ur blog.. But mine came very dry, not moist at all.. why do u think, that is.. Can I add more oil to this.. what do u think.. And, what do u use, to go with this ?? any chutney??

    • Hi Geeta
      I would try using some curd or yogurt instead of water when you grind the soaked dals. That should give the vadas some moisture. I think oil will work well as well.

      Thanks for trying the recipe out and sharing your experience with me.


  20. Hmph… so it wasnt “this weekend” (as per my comment!) that I finally tried this recipe – blame my laziness for it! 🙂 But I did it at last – AND wrote a post about it too! Thanks once again for such a great recipe! May you continue tinkering with tastes for many many MANY more years to come! 😀

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