What is Dahi Vada?
Dahi Vada is a popular chaat originating from the Indian Sub Continent. Chaat is a savory snack that is usually enjoyed as a snack. Most chaat dishes have become popular as street food in the Indian Sub Continent which is enjoyed both by young and the old in the evenings. Dahi means yogurt and vada is basically a fritter. Therefore, it means fritters in yogurt.
A bit more Dahi Vada
Also known as Dahi Vade, Dahi Bhalla, Thayir Vadai, Perugu Vada, Doi Bora, the recipes will vary a bit from region to region. The Vadas are made from soaked lentils which is ground into a coarse paste and deep fried. The proportion and types of lentils will vary from family to family or region to region. Basically, the fried Vadas are soaked in warm water for a while to soften them and then added to thick yogurt. Seasonings used in the yogurt varies. Its usually served topped with chutneys. Some serve it with green chutney while some with date tamarind chutney. Toppings too vary from chopped or grated beetroot, carrots to finely chopped fruits.
Growing up I remember that my mum didn’t make dahi vada at home. We would usually enjoy them during communities lunches/dinners or weddings. Sometimes my dad would take us to Supreme Hotel in Nairobi which sold the yummiest chaats. My order would usually be dahi vada or dahi papdi.
I learnt how to make dahi vada at home from Nunu, my mother in law. First initiation to learning how to prepare this delicious snack was to learn how to make the batter and whip it well under the watchful eyes of Nunu. After that, the second step was learning how to soak them in water, and then yogurt. I would decorate it with red chili powder, cumin powder, grated beetroot, pomegranate, chopped fresh coriander. When my mother in law was confident that I could fry them properly the task was given to me.
Mostly a Summer Snack
Because this snack tends to be cold, its usually enjoyed during the hot summer days. We prefer to enjoy it with chilled yogurt. But then its always hot in Mombasa. For many, winter doesn’t stop them from enjoying dahi vada. Sometimes it is served as a side dish as a part of a big meal.
Variations of Dahi Vada
Usha prepares dahi vada which are in the shape of a doughnut. The yogurt is tempered in the normal South Indian style but the addition of little turmeric powder gives the yogurt a beautiful lemony yellow colour.
- North style Dahi Bhalla
Renu uses only urad dal for the vada. She also serves Dahi Vada with Coriander and Mint Chutney.
Saswati’s version of Dahi Vada is so different. The Vadas are made using urad dal and along with dahi its also served with a preparation of Aloo Dum.
Vidya loves making the South Indian version of dahi vada in a paniyaram pan(appe pan, aebleskiver pan). Much healthier, one can enjoy this delicious snack without any guilt.
Jayashree likes to add chopped curry leaves and chopped small pieces of coconut to the batter before making Vadas.
If you don’t want to fry the Vadas, then check out how Poonam steams them. So much healthier and tasty at the same time.
Gujarati Style Dahi Vada:
Basically, most recipes for the Vadas are the same with a little variation in the types of lentils used. However, the difference in the taste comes what you add to the yogurt, what type of chutney you serve it with and of course the toppings used. Gujaratis add sugar to the yogurt. The Date Tamarind Chutney also tends to be more on the sweeter side as more dates are used compared to the tamarind.
Ingredients required to make Dahi Vada
- Lentils like urad dal(Split Black gram) , moong dal(split moong or green gram) and chana dal (split chickpea).
- Seasonings like salt, turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, fresh ginger, fresh chilis, sugar
- Fresh Coriander
- Date and Tamarind Chutney
- Oil for deep frying if you’re going to deep fry them
- Gluten Free
After buying a paniyaram pan from India, I have been trying out bhajias and paniyaram recipes. Today I made some dahi vada and instead of frying them as we normally do, I used the paniyaram pan. I was happy with the outcome. Used very little oil and the vadas were soft. Will I ever fry vadas again? Perhaps not. Less oily and much more healthier. The recipe remains the same, you just don’t need oil for frying. You need about 1-2 tbsp of oil.
28 to 30 vadas serves about 6
For the vadas:
½ cup urad dal (split black gram lentil)
¼ cup moong dal (split green gram/moong)preferably with skin
¼ cup chana dal (split chickpea)
½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
pinch of asafetida (hing)
generous pinch of turmeric powder (haldi)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp green chili paste
1 tsp ginger paste
oil for deep frying
For the yogurt base:
4 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
10 -12 curry leaves
1 tsp ghee or oil
a pinch of asafetida (hing)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
about 1 cup date tamarind chutney
Preparation of Vada using deep frying method:
- Soak the lentils separately in warm water for 6 to 8 hours.
- Drain out the lentils into a sieve and wash it. I usually leave the skin of the lentils.
- Grind the moong and chana dal to a paste which not not too fine or too coarse. Use a food processor or a liquidiser. If you use a liquidiser, use water sparingly as you don’t want a runny batter.
- Remove the ground paste into a bowl.
- Grind the urad dal, again with as little water as possible into a paste which is not too fine or too coarse.
- Mix both the ground lentil mixtures. Add to it the rest of the ingredients mentioned under vadas.
- Heat the oil for frying in a wok or karai. To test if its hot, put a tiny blob of the batter into the oil. If it comes up immediately, then the oil is ready.
- Take a steel soup spoon or tablespoon. Have a small bowl of water ready for dipping the spoon.
- Dip the spoon in the water and spoon the batter gently into the oil. Repeat till you have about 6 to 8 vadas in the oil. Lower the heat and fry them till they are light brown and crispy. Make sure you keep turning the vadas with a slotted spoon to cook them evenly on both sides. I find that after every 2 vadas I need to dip the spoon in the water. This only helps the batter to slip off the spoon easily. Don’t fret, after a few trials, it becomes easier.
- Repeat step 7 till all the batter is over. In between don’t forget to whip the batter.
- Let the vadas cool.
Preparation of Vada using the paniyaram pan:
- Follow the above 1-6 steps to prepare the vada batter.
- Heat the paniyaram pan over medium heat.
- Add a drop or two of oil into each cavity.
- Spoon the batter into each cavity, three quarter full.
- Cover the pan and let the Vadas cook for 3-5 minutes or the top of each vada is not wet.
- Take the lid off. Flip each vada. Add a drop of oil if you want. Let the other side cook till it turns very light brown in colour.
- Let the vadas cool.
Preparation of the Yogurt:
- Mix yogurt with salt and sugar.
- Heat oil or ghee in a small pan over medium heat.
- Add mustard seeds.
- As soon as the seeds begin to pop, add cumin seeds.
- Add curry leaves and asafetida. Stir fry till leaves become crispy.
- Mix well and pour the tempering into the yogurt.
- Mix well.
Soaking of Vada:
- Take a wide pan and fill it halfway with water.
- Heat the water till it becomes hot.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Add vadas in the hot water.
- Let them soak in the water for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Gently press out the water from each vada by pressing between your palms.
- Arrange the Vadas in a big serving dish or in individual bowls.
- Pour prepared yogurt over the Vadas.
- Garnish with coriander, cumin powder and red chili powder.
- Serve with date tamarind chutney.
Option for serving:
- Add fried sev
- Add pomegranate arils
- Add grated carrot or beetroot
- If you are having guests over, prepare the vadas a day ahead and keep them in the fridge. Once you soak them in hot water they will become soft.
- The amount of chilli used depends on you.
- When you spoon the batter into the oil, make sure the tip of the spoon is touching the surface of the oil. Gently let the batter slide off as a blob into the oil. Let it come up on its own or after a while, give it a gentle nudge from the side with the slotted spoon for it to come up.
- I find that when I need to fry bhajias,vadas etc, it is important to have the oil at least half way in the wok or karai.
- make sure the oil is hot before preparing the next batch.
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