Vades: An Indian Savoury

Vades is an Indian savoury dish that was carried over through generations by the Indian settlers in Durban from their motherland India. People are defined in their culture by the food they eat and the ability to preserve their culture lies in their ways of living. Vades is predominately a South Indian prayer dish, a dish invented with the belief that the deities Hindus worship have either a sweet or sour or neutral liking, hence when they pray and offer food to deities there is always a mixture of taste creating a balancing and thus ensuring one deity is not favoured over another. Vades is one such dish; it is not sweet but rather a savoury dish that is made with vegetables. Interestingly, although vegetarianism is one of the characteristics of Hinduism, currently it is not always practised by Durban Hindus.

Vades is used as a prayer offering by Durban Indians but is not limited to the occasion. It is also sold in local Indian restaurants as a savoury or chilli bite. In Durban, during prayer occasions some Indian men have vades as a bite during a social drink after the prayer. If vades is to be made especially for prayer purposes it should be done under extreme clean conditions and generally by females that are not on their periods, as in the Hindu custom women who are menstruating are regarded as unclean.


400 g pea dhall (lentils)
1 bunch shallot (spring onions)
10 -15 green chillies
10 ml cumin seeds
5 ml baking powder
Oil for deep fat frying
3 large onions1 bunch coriander leaves
10 ml salt
10 ml fennel seeds


Soak the pea dhall overnight. Then wash the dhall thoroughly and drain water. Grind the dhall to a paste using a food processor and add the onions chopped to the paste and place in a dish. Chop the shallot, coriander leaves and green chillies finely and add to the mixture.

Roast the cumin and fennel seed for few minutes, grind it coarsely and add to the mixture. Add salt and baking powder and mix the ingredients together. Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Form the mixture into little patties using the palm of left hand and fingers of right hand. Then make an indenture in the middle of each patty and lower into hot oil. Fry about 8 at a time. Fry on both sides till the patties are brown and crisp for ten minutes. Drain the oil. Makes 24

Serve hot or cold as a prayer dish or as a savoury.

By: Yoveshine Pillay

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