Vatidar Na Bhajia/ Dal Bhajia
Event: Father’s Day
Recipe: Vatidar Na Bhajia/ Dal Bhajia
What is Vatidar Na Bhajia/ Dal Bhajia? Well, first of all vatidar means ground dal or dar. Dal is the Hindi word for pulses and dar is the Gujarati word. Bhajia are fritters, deep fried in oil. Vatidar na Bhajia is basically bhajia or fritters made from coarsely ground dals or pulses.
Vatidar Na Bhajia/ Dal Bhajia is a Coastal Speciality
A visit to Mombasa is not complete if you have not had the famous vatidar na bhajia. Every coffee shop, fast food restaurant will serve these famous bhajias. In the evenings, women sit at corners or near their home preparing these hot snacks for hungry passersby. During our visit to Mombasa, a visit to the Cosy Tearoom was a must. My dad would have a cup of tea and vatidar bhajias while we kids indulged in the bhajias with Coke. I remember they use to serve them in these white saucers with the coconut chutney. The coconut chutney served with these bhajias is simple and yet so different from the normal Indian Chutneys. Fresh grated coconut, green chillis, raw mango, sometimes ginger and salt is all you need. Grind it together and you have a lip smacking chutney.
Vatidar na Bhajia seems to have come to the coastal area of East Africa from India. However, these bhajias are different from the moong dal or chana dal bhajias that are served in India. In the coastal region of East Africa, these bhajias are made from cowpeas, and a bit of moong or chana dal (split chickpeas) are added.
Vatidar na bhajia or bhadala bhajia as they originally called. Bhadala is a Muslim Community. It is believed that they came to the coastal towns years ago from Kutch and Saurashtra regions of Gujarat. Probably the simple bhajias they cooked in India, evolved into bhadala bhajia. They used whatever dals or pulses were readily available and added local ingredients like coconut, raw mango, etc. In old parts of Mombasa you will still find women selling vatidar na bhajia as street food.
Through this post I’d like to wish all the dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day. It is true that Father’s Day gets overshadowed by Mother’s Day. However, dads too play an important and vital role in our upbringing. For me my dad has and is always there for me. His advise, his organizational skills, his reasoning ability, his strong family bonding ability and just his love and how his eyes lit up every time I call makes me feel so safe and comfortable.
My dad loves any indian farsan or snack, be it samosas, kachoris, bateta vada, arvi pan bhajia etc. In that respect, I am like him as I love these fresh snacks anytime to chevdo, gathia etc. His all time favourite is vatidar bhajia. A visit to Mombasa is not complete if you have not had the famous vatidar bhajia. My dad can make a meal out of these bhajias. Whenever he comes to visit me, his request is vatidar na bhajia.
Dad’s Other Favorite Dishes
- Arvi Paan Na Bhajia
- Though he’d rather prefer mutton samosa, give him homemade paneer or vegetable samosa and he will not say no.
- Matar Kachori
- Chocolate Eclairs
- Masala Poori/ Tikhi Puri
- Ghari Rotli ( puran puri)
Ingredients Required to Make Vatidar Na Bhajia/ Dal Bhajia
- Split Cowpeas – also known as Chora ni dal, choli ki dal.
- Chana Dal or Moong Dal – Chana dal also known as split chickpeas. Can use either moong or chana dal. Use the moong dal with the skin and not the yellow one.
- Fresh Fenugreek or Amaranth leaves – use whichever you get. I like to add fresh amaranth leaves.
- Raw Mango – required for both the bhajia batter and the chutney.
- Cumin Seeds – jeera, required for both the batter and chutney.
- Salt – required for both the bhajia batter and the chutney.
- Green Chillis – required for both the bhajia batter and the chutney.
- Fresh Ginger – required for both the bhajia batter and the chutney.
- Onion – finely chopped. Its totally optional.
- Fresh Coconut – grated for the chutney. Can use frozen fresh coconut. Making the chutney with desiccated coconut will taste very different.
- Water – normal tap water for the batter and chutney
- Gluten Free
- Its fried so eat in moderation
VATIDAR NA BHAJIA/ DAL BHAJIA
For the Vatidar Bhajia Batter:
- 1 cup chora dal
- ½ cup moong dal or chana dal
- 1 cup fenugreek or amaranth leaves chopped
- ½ cup raw mango grated
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp green chilli paste or 2 chillis finely chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
For the Coconut Chutney:
- ½ cup raw mango grated
- 2 cups fresh coconut grated
- 2 to 3 green chillis
- ½ inch fresh ginger piece
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cumin seeds roasted
- 1 to 1¼ cups water
- oil for deep frying
Preparation of Vatidar Na Bhajia:
- Soak both the lentils separately in warm water for 6 to 8 hours.
- Drain into a colander or sieve and wash under tap water.
- Grind both the lentils separately in a food processor. It should be coarse and not fine.
- Mix both the ground lentils.
- Add the rest of the ingredients for the bhajia. Mix the batter very well.
- Heat oil in a wok or karai over medium heat. Drop a small piece of batter in the oil. If it comes up immediately, the oil is ready.
- Take a tablespoon of batter and using your fingers pat it into a round flattish shape. Drop into the hot oil. Repeat till you have about 6 to 8 bhajias in the oil. Lower the heat and start turning the bhajias, starting with the one you dropped in first.
- Fry till they are crispy and golden brown. Remove and put on a kitchen towel or colander to drain out the excess oil.
- Before frying the next batch, make sure the oil is hot.
- Serve hot with the chutney.
Preparation of Coconut Chutney:
- To prepare the chutney, put all the ingredients into a blender. Blend till the mango becomes like a paste.
- Can freeze the mixture till you need it again.
- Use these bhajias instead of falafel.
- Whip the batter for 5 minutes before you make the bhajias. This makes the bhajias softer.
- If you are using moong dal, don't throw away the skin. Just grind the lentils with the skin.
- The batter keeps well for 2 to 3 days in the fridge.
- Adjust the amount of chillis according to your taste.
- Use your thumb to gently push the shaped batter into the oil.
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