Kala’s Senai Kolla (Yam Deep Fried Balls)

During the coronavirus lockdown, people rush around buying vegetables which would keep for more than a week unrefrigerated. Yam and colocasia are in great demand (but not as much as potatoes). Yam is known as senai in Tamil Nadu and kolla means globe. Fried yam balls are made by a few families. Though my mother hadn’t bothered to write down the recipe for me, my husband’s aunt used to make these. I never liked it, perhaps because she wasn’t a great cook 🙂 During this lockdown I bought a lot of yam and then created my own version of Senai Kolla. My son usually doesn’t eat vegetables, but even he didn’t mind this 😀

Kala's Senai Kolla - Kalas Kalai

Kala’s Senai Kolla (Yam Deep Fried Balls)

Nutritive Value

Even though yam is a root vegetable, it contains a lot of water and provides only around 80 Calories per 100 grams, but provides 260 µg of β carotene. The roasted Bengal gram dhal powder provides 22g of protein per 100g though it is used in small amounts only. The Senai Kolla is an easy-to-make, though time consuming, vegan/vegetarian preparation which gives a lot of energy from the dhal powder and the oil used in deep frying, and can be included in a packed lunch.


  • 2 C Senai (Yam) pieces, skin removed
  • 1 C finely diced Onion
  • 1/3 C Roasted Bengal Gram Dhal, powdered
  • 1/3 C diced Coriander Leaves
  • 2 T diced Mint Leaves, optional
  • 1 tsp Salt, or to taste
  • Vegetable Oil, for deep frying

Masala: Grind Together

  • 1/3 C Coconut scrapings
  • 3 cm piece Ginger
  • 8-10 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Green Chillies, deseeded
  • 2 Dry Chillies, deseeded
  • 1 small piece Cinnamon
  • 1 Clove
  • 1 small bit Star Anise
  • 1 tsp Sombu/Aniseed


  1. Stir 2 teaspoons of salt in 4 cups of water. Soak the yam pieces for a minimum of 30 minutes. Wash the yam and drain in a colander.
  2. Steam the yam for 10 minutes or pressure cook for 5 minutes. Drain the yam and discard the water. Dry under the fan if necessary.
  3. Grind the yam, the ground masala, and the salt together in a mixie or blender to arrive at a smooth paste.
  4. Transfer the yam to a bowl. Mix the onion, coriander leaves, and the roasted Bengal gram dhal powder with the yam. You should have a thick paste.
  5. Dip your finger in water. Take a small amount of yam and shape into a lime-sized ball. Repeat the same with the rest of the mixture.
  6. Heat the oil in a kadai or wok.
  7. Fry the balls on high heat for 3 minutes. Lower heat. Turnover the balls. Fry till the other side is browned.
  8. Remove and drain on kitchen paper towels.


  1. The yam pieces should be cut to the size in the photo below and then steamed or pressure cooked.
  2. If the yam paste is too sticky, add a little more roasted Bengal gram dhal powder and mix.
  3. I use sunflower oil supplemented with rice bran oil for its neutral flavour and cholesterol lowering properties.
Kalas Yam Fingers 2 - Kalas Kalai

Cut the yam into 1 cm thick and 6 cm long pieces



5 thoughts on “Kala’s Senai Kolla (Yam Deep Fried Balls)

  1. Mam, tried this recipe today. Your lucid explanation of the recipe made it easy to replicate. It came out well and was relished by all at home. Thank you so much

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