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Himachali Sepu Vadi - Split Urad Dal Vadi In Spinach Gravy

Traditional Himachali Sepu Vadi, split Urad dal vadi in spinach gravy. The vadi /lentil fritters are made from soaked, ground, steamed, split black gram dal, and then shaped, fried, added to a spinach and dill gravy cooked in spices. Enjoy the curry with roti, naan bread or with a simple rice dish such as jeera (cumin) rice.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time10 hrs 25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 2 people
Author: Sujata Shukla


For Urad dal Vadi / Black gram Fritters

  • ½ cup Split black urad dal/ split black gram lentils Soaked overnight
  • ½ teaspoon Black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon Fennel seeds / Saunf
  • ½ inch ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ½ cup mustard oil or sunflower oil

For Spinach Puree

  • 1 -2 bunches Spinach leaves about 1.5 to 2 cups when pureed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill leaves
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 Cloves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 5-6 Black peppercorns
  • ½ inch fresh ginger

Spices Mix for Grinding

  • 1 Bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon Coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon Fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida hing
  • ½ inch cinnamon
  • 1 Black Cardamom

For Sepu Vadi - Spinach curry with Black gram fritters

  • 1 ½ -2 cups Spinach Puree Prepared as per instructions below
  • ½ cup Yogurt/Curd
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil or Sunflower oil or other vegetable oil
  • Spice mix Prepared as per instructions below
  • 1 tomato Diced into 1 cm pieces - optional
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric Powder/ Haldi
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 cup Urad dal Vadi Prepared as per instructions below
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice optional


To make the split black urad dal Vadi

  • Time Required: 8 hours soaking + 5 minutes grinding + 1 hours fermentation (optional) + 15 minutes steaming + 20 mins frying Rinse and soak the split black urad dal (split black gram lentils) in 1 cup of water, overnight. After it is soaked, drain, rinse and again drain the dal. Add all the ingredients listed above for making Urad dal vadi (except the mustard oil) and grind it into a thick paste using as no water or as little water as possible - 1 or two teaspoons only, if required. Set aside for an hour to ferment (optional)
    Soaked black dal lentils ground into a thick brown paste with spices chilli and ginger
  • Spread the spiced urad dal batter on an idli plate or other steaming plate, cover and steam over boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove from steamer, spread on a plate keeping the thickness to about ½ cm and slice into small squares or rectangles (about an inch long) Allow to cool Heat ½ cup of oil and deep fry the vadi in batches. Drain and keep aside till required.
    Split Urad dal fritters on brass plate, ready to add to the spinach curry
  • To fry the vadi as above, you may find these timings useful: Heat the oil till it is smoking hot. Drop the pieces of batter one by one into the hot oil, taking care to leave some space between each ( and take care while working with hot oil!) Reduce the heat to low. After about 3 minutes, turn (flip) each one carefully with a spatula so that the bottom side is now up. Increase the heat to medium or high. Another 3 minutes, and then again turn the badis. Remove after 1 minute and place in a colander to drain. Heat the oil again for the next batch. Set aside till required.

To Prepare the Spinach Puree

  • Time: 5 minutes to blanch and drain + 5 minutes to puree Cut away hard stems and dry or rotten leaves from the bunch of spinach. Chop and then wash the spinach well. Heat water in a pan until it is boiling, and add the chopped spinach. Cover the pan, turn off the stove and blanch the spinach for 3 minutes. Meanwhile prepare an ice bath by adding ice cubes to a a basin of water. Drain and quickly put the spinach into the ice bath and drain after 1 minute. Squeeze gently to remove excess water. The spinach will then retain its bright green colour. 2. Rinse and drain the dill, squeeze away excess water and chop it.
  • Puree the spinach along with the other ingredients in the list above for Spinach puree ie the dill, ginger, chilli and spices, without adding water during the process. Set aside till required.

To prepare the Spice Mix

  • Time: 5 minutes Pound all the spices as in the Ingredients list above for Spice mix, into a coarse powder. The Black cardamom needs only to be slightly crushed so that it opens up a little. Set aside till required.

To make the Sepu Vadi - Spinach curry with fritters

  • Time Prep 5 minutes + 20 minutes cooking time Beat the curd / yogurt/ dahi and add to the spinach puree. Add water as in the ingredients list for Sepu Vadi above, and whisk it all in. Set aside. Dice the tomato if using, into 1 cm pieces
  • Heat the oil (see ingredients list for making Sepu Vadi above) in a medium sized pan. Add the bay leaf and then the crushed/pounded spice mix. Sauté for 1 minute Add the sliced tomatoes (if using) and sauté for 1 minute Add the turmeric and chilli powders, sauté for 30 seconds.
    Bay leaf and spices sautéed in oil for making Split Urad dal vadi in Spinach gravy
  • Pour the spinach puree into the pan, stir and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt, stir.
  • Add the fried urad dal fritters one by one into the gravy, about 8-10 small vadis should be enough for 1.5 cups of spinach puree without overcrowding the curry. Simmer the curry for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve hot with a dash of lemon juice (if using), with hot rice or chapatis.