Ulli Garelu – Lentil Dumplings

No festive meal is complete without the classic dish ‘garelu’ or ‘garellu’ in most Andhra homes, be it for Sankranti, Ugadi, Ganesh Chaturthi or Diwali. Infact during Sankranti,our major harvest festival, on Kanumu day, the sons-in-law of the family are treated to delectable delicacies and one savory dish prepared is garellu served with meat curry, sambar and coconut chutney.


South Indian Tiffins boast of a variety of Vadas or Garelu like Medu Vada, Masala Vada, Parappu Vadai, Ulundu Vadai or Thayir Vadai aka Perugu Garellu aka Dahi Bhalla (a North Indian style vada smothered in yogurt and tamarind sauce). What ever their name, the vadas or garelu with a crispy and crunchy exterior and a soft and fluffy inside are sure to delight your palettes. Garelu are prepared with whole black gram lentil batter. When chopped onions and green chillis are added to the batter, the prepared dumplings are called ‘Ulli Garellu’. (ulli = onion in telugu)


1 1/2 cup whole urad dal/black gram dal/minappappu
1 tbsp raw rice
2″ ginger very finely chopped
2-3 green chillies very finely chopped
1 big onion finely chopped
salt to taste
oil for deep frying

Soak whole black gram dal and 1 tbsp raw rice for 5-6 hours.
Strain the water from the dal and grind to a paste sprinkling little water and salt. Don’t grind all the dal at once, use small portions to grind batch wise as its easier to grind into a soft paste. Add salt while grinding to a fluffy paste.
Then add chopped onions, finely chopped ginger and green chillies to the batter and mix well.

Take a heavy bottomed vessel and add enough oil for deep frying. The oil should be hot.
Wet your hands with water and take a lemon sized ball and flatten it into a vada on a greased sheet or banana leaf.
Make a hole in the centre of the vada or gare so that it cooks evenly all over.

Slowly drop it into the hot oil carefully and fry it on both sides on medium heat to a golden brown colour.

Serve hot with chicken curry or mutton kurma, sambar or coriander chutney.

Now head to your kitchens and make this ‘tiffin with a hole’ which is sure to give your tastes buds a delectable treat. Another variation is the addition of 1 tsp of pepper corns, few curry leaves and 1/4 tsp asafoetida to the ground gram dal batter, ginger and green chillis.

Ulli Garelu – Lentil Dumplings

  Prepare time:
 Serves: 2

 Main Ingredients:

  •  urad dal
  •   onions


  • Ashwini

    Wow, I love south Indian tiffin items. I used to try going to Shantisagar every week when in Bangalore 🙂 You must cover everything!

  • Lera

    This one is sure to win over hearts of many foodies like me..sailu it looks delicious.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/2432366 Santhi

    Hi Sailu,

    Have been silent observer till now.
    Time to leavea comment now.
    Great Job and fantastic recipes.
    I am a newbie to food blogging world and still trying to absorb everything around. :):)


  • sailu

    Ashwini,our traditional tiffins are classic recipes handed down to us through generations and its not easy getting it all right the first time.Trial and error and loads of practice makes the preparation perfect ..hopefully..:)
    I am trying to cover most tiffins I prepare at home which I learnt from my ammamma,amma and a few friends.

    No one resist tiffin items,Lera.

    Thanks so much for dropping by,Shanti,and your kind words.Sure link to my blog and I have you linked to mine too,btw.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/2432366 Santhi


    Forgor asking you if it is OK to link u in my blog.


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10250062 Shilpa

    Hi Sailu,
    I love medu vadai. I will try this one, I used to do it a little diffrent. Thanks for the recipe.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15682587 Fran

    This sounds wonderful–love lentils. Not familiar with urad dal 🙁

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15339094 Kay

    Sailu, I start making vadas and end up making bondas 😉 I somehow, can’t seem to flatten it, leave alone make a hole in it. LOL.

    Your vada looks yummy!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14510243 Zoubida

    This is fascinating cuisine Sailu and you make it sound so simple and straighforward. I have ural dal but exhausted all of my rice stock. I’ll try to make the boys and their cousin who is visiting for a week to behave tomorrow at the Indian store where I’ll buy some plus other things to finally try few recipes of yours.
    I’m impressed at how healthy your treats are.
    I meant to tell you this before and this Ulli Garely recipe reminded me to do so. They look like the unhealthy and heavy doughnuts we have in North-America (sugar, white flour, artery clogging fats by the loads) but are the opposite health wise, featuring excellent food stuff as ingredients.
    This will make for a lengthy comment and I’m sorry about that but I *have* to tell you I read about the tradition of treating the sons in law of the family with delicacies in a book about the Rani of Jansi and her leading action against the British occupation in 1857. In that book by celebrated french author and historian Michel de Grèce, I learned a lot about Indian traditions and day to day life (through the life of the Rani after she lost both her kingdom and her wealth to the British). I remember well the passage where this tradition you mention was described.
    Ok, enough said. I’ll make these for sure.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/6355489 Meenal Mehta


    Iam a major fan of south indian cooking , gimme these vadas and ready to overlook the fact that they are fried. they look “other wordly”

    I tired commenting on the uttapams but my system kept messing up and so I couldnt .

    to comment on those , they are a visual delight

  • sailu

    Do try it,Shilpa.

    Fran,its called Whole Black Gram Lentil and is available in most Indian grocery stores.

    Kay,its practice,practice and more practice..:).I used to make them like bondas initially but with practice I have been able to bring them to a doughnut shape.

    Zoubida,how nice to know that you share an interest with me in History..:)especially the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.Rani Jhansi Bai is one of the most admired and valant woman warriors who fought for India’s freedom from British rule.
    The boys will love these lentil doughnuts for sure and ask for more..:)

    Meenal,these vadas really dont absorb a lot of oil as most deep fried foods.You can overlook this aspect once in a while..:).I am glad you found the tiffins a visual treat.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17869651 KrishnaArjuna

    mmmm gaarelu!! My all time favorite in breakfasts although its highly fattening 🙂

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18783118 Kitchenmate

    Nice’s vadas, looks soft and fluffy.Infact I was ready with a post for vadas, coincidence. will post it sometime. Keep up your work sailu. I loved your uppatapams, thought of making it for my little puppet.

  • CJ’s Food & Discovery

    Hi Sailu,

    I can’t keep up with you…It’s been a busy day lately but I keep checking back to see what’s new on your food blog and well, surprisingly you’ve made a kind of bread that looks like the American “Bagels” looks really delicious and thanks for sharing your recipe…


  • sailu

    KA,once in a while its ok to relish our traditional foods without thinking of the percentage of fat in them..:)

    Your lil one will love them for sure,KM.

    Hey,Tin,you are one person who follows my blog regularly.It keeps me going and I appreciate it.
    I guess they look the American ‘doughnuts’..:)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17845066 spicehut


    Came here seeing your comment on my blog. All the photos on your flickr are yummy…and the muffins with chocolate coating are to die for !!

  • sailu


    Wow! A comment from Devagi…:)I am honoured.Thanks for dropping by my blog and your useful tip,Devagi..:)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/20104676 Devagi Sanmugam

    I usually put a few black peppercorns and 1 tsp of cumin seeds when grinding the urad dhal. It not gives and aromatic flavour but the taste is intensified.

  • http://injimanga.blogspot.com L.G

    Oh! I can never make vadas. Your vadas look perfect! I can never make it flattened like that.

    I guess, practice makes perfect, LG..:) 

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  • Neeraj

    Hi Sailu,
    Been following a lot of your food and a big fan of your cooking. I have tried the medhu vada a few times. I get the taste right but it still seems a bit chewy and and not as soft. The same thing happens to moong dal vada that I prepare (I get them in delhi as Ram Ladoo)
    Have you got any tips to make it not so chewy.

  • Shweta

    Was searching for Medu wada recpie over the net and bumped into ur site, my search for further recpies end here on ur site, u have taken gr8 efforts to put the traditional recipes on net, will love to try all these recpies.

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  • Shobha

    i liked ur recipies. they r really very very nice. thank u for giving such good recipies. i liked it
    once again thanks to sailu.

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  • R.Punitha

    Hai Sailu, Hats off you and your recipes. You made my cooking very very easy, and also you encouraging me to try a lot of varieties. I feel that i’m on safe side while cooking because of your guidance. Thanks a lot!!!!!!

  • haritha

    HI Sailu!!Am a silent reader of ur site.great work!!Iam expecting my second kid n would like to eat bobbatlu n purnam buurelu.It will be kind of u if u can post the recipe. I end up with watery stuffing whenever i tried.thx.

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  • Ayesha

    Hi Sailu,

    I have been reading and trying out your recipes for a while now and I must say that your food is simply delicious. The recipes are also easy to make and healthy which is great! I was just wondering, in this recipe when you say “1 1/2 cup”, what kind of measurement does that equate to so I know I wont get the quantities wrong.

    Thanks and look forward to more recipes:-)

  • shalu

    The batter looks very soft, as per my knowledge, it should be little coarse, it tastes better that way, I just made them yesterday at my home for Ganesha chatudhi, they were delicious.

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