Two problems that occur during making vadai and ulundu vadai are the undercooked centers and them breaking during frying. Also a high oil temperature results in burnt vadai with undercooked centers.
To avoid these problems, arrange the vadai on a microwavable plate (not paper) at least 1/2 inch apart (usually 10 -15 vadai on a 9 inch dinner plate), microwave for about 3 minutes without a cover until the upper surface feels slightly firm and leathery. If the upper surface still feels soft microwave again until the surface feels firm. The time depends on the power of the oven. Then turn them upside down (the bottom side is usually soft still) and repeat the microwaving for a minute or two until this side feels firm. Total time for a plateful of vadai using a 1200 watt oven is usually 6 minutes.
Meanwhile have the wok ready with hot oil. Do not have the oil fuming hot as very hot oil will char the vadai. (my indicator or oil at right temperature is when a small piece of papadam puffs up immediately without browning). Fry the already microwaved vadai while they are still hot, about 3 - 4 at a time. Remove them when they turn golden brown. Vadai are usually already cooked after the microwaving. You are only browning the vadai and adding the flavor by frying.
You can prepare ulundu vadai in a similar fashion. However leave at least a 1 inch distance between the vadai as they expand more than regular vadai does.
Recipe for vadai
Wash the soaked lentils well and drain in a colander for about 10 minutes. Transfer this and the other ingredients (except oil) to a food processor (not a blender) and grind/process until about half of the lentils/peas have turned to a paste. You should be able to see some intact/partial grain at this stage.
Recipe for ulundu vadai
Method: Soak urad dhal for 3-4 hours. Wash and drain well. Process in a food processor (not a blender) until a paste is obtained. Remove from the food processor to a bowl and mix with the next four ingredients except the oil.
Make the ulundu vadai to the desired size and the donut shape. If the mixture is too sticky, you can add a bit of rice flour or garbanzo (chick pea) flour to make it less sticky and workable. Oiling the palm also makes this step a bit easy. Arrange in a microwavable plate as indicated above. Microwave them first until the upper side feels firm and leathery. Turn them upside down and microwave them until both sides feel firm/leathery.
*I prefer shallots as these add very little moisture to the mixture and give a better aroma. Alternatively you could use the outer layers of two medium onions as they tend to have less water and a better aroma than the inner layers do. You could use the inner layers in fresh salads or mallun.
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