Wash the channa dal a couple of times and soak it with enough water to cover it and about an inch higher than it for about 3 hours or over night.
Strain the water completely and coarsest grind the channa dal along with dry red chilies and fennel seeds (quantity mentioned under “to make vada”).
Heat a frying pan with enough oil to shallow fry the Vadas.
Make small balls of vada mixture in your hand and shallow fry the ground vada mix until crispy for about a minute on medium heat. (Try not fry it until browned)
Drain the fried vada and transfer it to a paper towel and keep it ready.
Now that our Vadas are ready, to make the vada curry, take a wide pan, add oil, once hot add in the whole garam masalas - bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom and fennel seeds.
Allow it to sizzle in the hot oil for about 30 seconds. Next add the finely chopped onions and some salt and cook the onions until soft.
Next, add in the green chillies, curry leaves, ginger garlic paste one after the other and cook until a nice aroma is released.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have gone soft.
Next add some fresh mint leaves and cook for about a minute together.
Mean while prepare the coconut paste by grinding the ingredients mentioned under “for coconut paste”. - Grated coconut, fennel seeds, poppy seeds with water.
Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and the ground coconut paste into the pan and sauté it for a few minutes.
Measure and add the water and bring curry to a boil.
Once the curry comes to a bubbly boil, add the fried vada into the pan and move it around so all the vadais are submerged in the curry.
Simmer the vada curry for 10 minutes.
Do a final check for salt. I add a tbsp sugar to my curries to balance out the flavors. (This is an optional step )
Turn off the heat and serve it hot on aval dosa or set dosa.