As I mentioned in my earlier post, Diwali at home is incomplete without a sumptuous dose of Indian Street food. This time it was all about the Dahi Bhallas.
Dahi Bhallas (also called Dahi Vadas) are a North Indian dish prepared with yogurt and lentils. The choice of lentils, I have learned varies. Some make it with a mix of split moong lentils and split and dehusked black gram lentils, while others use just dehusked black gram lentils. Whatever the combination, remember to soak it overnight. To prepare the batter, grind the lentils to make a smooth paste and flavour with mild spices before frying it. Finally, dunk the fried bhalla or vada into sweet and salty yogurt.
How Do You Keep It Light
Despite being fried they are surprisingly light on the tummy. This is because of the science behind the cooking and balance of ingredients used. Once the batter is prepared, it is whisked by hand until it turns light and airy. This helps in making the final vadas really light. The other step that really helps is dunking the freshly fried hot vadas into yogurt thinned out with water making sure the excess oil is washed off. Remember to poke some holes into the vadas with a toothpick so the yogurt water is soaked up well. I also add hing (or asafoetida) into this water which aids easy digestion. Ajwain (or carrom seeds) is another great digestive aid that you can add to the batter.
The above are all the basic key ingredients for dahi vadas. To indulge, you can add some finely chopped green chilies, sultanas, cashews and fresh coriander. It takes the taste to the next level. The recipe and tips I have shared here are all thanks to my mother who I have to say makes the best dahi vadas ever. And no, this isn’t a biased opinion! Everyone who has ever eaten them agrees. I still remember her frying them on a low flame. I waited patiently to grab the fluffy vadas before they got dunked into yogurt. How divine they would taste. Once they had rested in their yogurt pool for a few hours, she would add the roasted red chili and cumin powder, sweet tamarind chutney, a dash of spicy ketchup, and finely chopped coriander. Uff! The flavours were exquisite and you have to try it to believe it.
- Urad Daal Washed (Split Black Gram de-husked)- 1cup, soaked overnight
- Hing (Asafoetida)- 1 pinch
- Ajwain (Carom seeds)-1 tsp
- Chopped Raisins- 1tbsp
- Chopped Cashews- 1 tbsp
- Finely Chopped Green Chilies- 1/2 tsp
- Finely Chopped Coriander Leaves- 2 tbsp
- Roasted Red Chilli powder-1 tsp
- Roasted Cumin powder- 1 tsp
- Tomato Ketchup- 2 tbsp
- Sweet Tamarind Chutney- 2 tbsp
- Yogurt-2 cups
- Water- 1cup
- Salt as per taste
- Oil for deep frying
- Thoroughly wash the urad daal and soak overnight or for 4-6 hours in 1.5 cups water
- Wash and grind the daal to a smooth paste. Only add a little extra water if needed for the mixer to move smoothly. Usually some water used for soaking the daal remains and that is enough for grinding but if the blender blades get stuck, add a 1-2 tbsp more. Refer to the video above to see the consistency of the batter
- Using clean hands, fluff up the batter for 5-7 minutes till it starts to feel lighter than when you started
- Add chopped green chilies, 1/2 tbsp coriander, ajwain seeds and salt and mix well. Do not add all the salt at this stage as you would be seasoning the yogurt with salt later as well
- Add chopped raisins and cashews and mix
- Mix 1 cup yogurt with 1 cup water, salt and hing , mix well and keep aside
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed wok and once the oil is really hot, reduce the flame to medium and add almost 1tbsp dollop of batter and fry till light golden. Keeping the flame on medium is critical as frying on a high flame just cooks the exterior, leaving the inner part uncooked
- Once done, transfer on a kitchen towel and using a toothpick poke some holes in the wadas
- Dunk these wadas into the prepared yogurt-water solution and let it sit for at leat 30 minutes. Then gently press them between your palms and squeeze out the liquid making sure not to press too hard and break the wadas
- In the meantime take the remaining 1 cup yogurt, add salt and mix well. If it is too thick use some yogurt-water mixture from the previous step to thin it out. Be careful not to thin it out too much like the earlier mixture in which you dunked the wadas. This yogurt-salt mixture needs to be thick enough to coat the wadas well to serve
- Then take a deep and wide serving dish and place the pre-soaked wadas into them neatly next to each other. Discard the yogurt-water mixture , you can use it to make buttermilk
- Next spoon over the thick yogurt-salt mixture over the wadas to coat them well, then sprinkle roasted cumin and red chilli powder followed by tamarind chutney and tomato ketchup
- Garnish with finely chopped coriander and serve