← Back to Search Results
frying Indian
Pigeon Pea Fritters with a Yogurt-Tomato Sauce Recipe-6961

Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Comments: 0


Toram Paruppu Vadai

This combination of fritter and sauce, referred to as vadai-pachadi in Tamil-speaking kitchens, is an absolute must for weddings and auspicious religious functions. The yellow split peas, left whole but soaked until tender, provide a delicious crunch to these spicy fritters.

Yield: Makes about 25 Fritters (Serves 10 to 12)


For the fritters:

  • 1 cup oily or unoily skinned split yellow pigeon peas (toovar dal), picked over for stones
  • 3 or 4 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, to taste, stems removed
  • ¼ cup yellow split peas (chana dal), picked over for stones, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and drained
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1½ teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground asafetida
  • Canola oil for deep-frying

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 medium-size tomato, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 fresh green Thai, cayenne, or serrano chiles, to taste, stems removed, finely chopped (do not remove the seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems


1. Place the pigeon peas in a medium-size bowl. Fill the bowl halfway with water and rinse the peas by rubbing them between your fingertips. The water will become cloudy. Drain this water. Repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear; drain. Now fill the bowl halfway with warm water and add the chiles to the peas. Allow the peas and chiles to soften by letting them sit at room temperature, covered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

2. Drain the pigeon peas and chiles, transfer them to a food processor, and process to form a red-speckled, slightly gritty paste. Scrape this paste into a medium-size bowl. Fold in the yellow split peas, onion, cilantro, salt, and asafetida, forming a paste that looks like wet sand.

3. Grease your palms with a little cooking oil or spray. Take a heaping tablespoon of the paste and shape it into a tight round ball. Press the ball between the palms of your hands to form a patty roughly 1½ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Lay it on a plate or tray. Repeat with the remaining paste. You should end up with about 25 patties.

4. Pour oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches into a wok, Dutch oven, or medium-size saucepan. Heat the oil over medium heat until a candy or deep-fry thermometer inserted into the oil (without touching the pan’s bottom) registers 350°F. (An alternative way to see if the oil is at the right temperature for deep-frying is to gently flick a drop of water over it. If the pearl-like drop skitters across the surface, the oil is ready.)

5. Line a large plate or a cookie sheet with several layers of paper towels. Once the oil is ready, gently slide 8 patties into the pan (do not crowd the pan). Fry, turning them occasionally, until they are caramel-brown and crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on the paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat until all the patties are fried. You may need to adjust the heat to maintain the oil’s temperature at 350°F.

6. To make the sauce, whisk the yogurt, salt, and ¼ cup water together in a medium-size bowl.

7. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cover the skillet, and wait until the seeds have stopped popping (not unlike popcorn), about 30 seconds. Immediately add the tomato, chiles, and cilantro. Cook, uncovered, until the tomato has broken down and formed a chunky sauce, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir this spicy sauce into the watered-down yogurt.

8. Place 2 fritters on each individual serving plate, and cover each one with a heaping teaspoon of the tart-hot, mustard-spiked yogurt sauce.


If you don’t wish to fry them all, keep the remaining uncooked patties, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days; or store them in resealable freezer bags in the freezer for up to 1 month. Partially thaw them before frying, and keep them in the hot oil for a few extra minutes to make sure the center cooks.

© 2008 Raghavan Iyer

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 12 servings.

208kcal (10%)
69mg (7%)
2mg (3%)
8mcg RAE (0%)
0mg (0%)
334mg (14%)
1g (5%)
14g (21%)
1mg (7%)

Would you like to leave a comment about this recipe?

Notify me of new comments on this recipe. Add comment

We'd love to hear what you think!

Please or to add a comment to this recipe.

Sign up for
The Cookstr Weekly

Free handpicked cookbook recipes delivered straight to your inbox

Explore Cookbooks on Cookstr

a-new-way-to-cook A New Way to Cook
by Sally Schneider
spice Spice
by Ana Sortun
usa-cookbook U.S.A. Cookbook
by Sheila Lukins
amor-y-tacos Amor Y Tacos
by Deborah Schneider
the-vegetable-dishes-i-cant-live-without The Vegetable Dishes I Can'...
by Mollie Katzen, Greg Atkinson
food-to-live-by Food to Live By
by Myra Goodman
daves-dinners-a-fresh-approach-to-home-cooked-meals Dave's Dinners: A Fresh App...
by Dave Lieberman
how-to-be-a-domestic-goddess How to be a Domestic Goddess
by Nigella Lawson
mom-a-licious Mom-a-Licious
by Domenica Catelli
good-to-the-grain Good to the Grain
by Kim Boyce
gluten-free-and-vegan-holidays Gluten-Free and Vegan Holidays
by Jennifer Katzinger
parents-need-to-eat-too Parents Need to Eat Too
by Debbie Koenig

Thanks for signing up!

You'll receive an activation email in your inbox shortly. Don't forget to click that link and activate your new Cookstr.com account!

Already a member? Sign in here

Sign up for Cookstr!

  • Receive a free, handpicked selection of recipes in your inbox weekly
  • Save, share and comment on your favorite recipes in My Cookstr
  • Get updates on new cookbooks, Cookstr features, and other exclusives we know you'll love
By signing up you accept the
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
New to Cookstr? Sign up here
Thanks for commenting!
Would you like to share your comment on Facebook or Twitter?