Vadas are lentil fritters that are traditionally eaten along with a sambar. Because they're South Indian appetizers ("tiffins"), they may not be as familiar as samosas and pakoras, staples of North Indian restaurant menus in the US. In fact, I've only seen vadas on a restaurant menu once, back in Boston.
Clockwise from bottom: urud dal, mung dal, yellow split peas (in place of channa dal)
Mixed dal (soaked overnight), cilantro, shredded carrots, veggie oil, turmeric, copra (shredded coconut), peppercorns, cayenne, curry leaves, hing, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds
Lightly frying the curry leaves, hing, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds before being mixed in with the pulverized dal and other ingredients.
I often use chopsticks in deep-frying, regardless of the cuisine. I also use a rice paddle, rather than my hand, to ease the batter into the oil. Vadas are often shaped like donuts, but this is very difficult to do with a mixed dal batter. If the batter had been made solely from urud dal (a very glutinous legume), then making the donut shape would've been more feasible.
Amai Vadas served with Haldi Chaval from the previous night
This was a variation on the Masala Vada recipe found in Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India.