Vatidar Na Bhajia/ Dal Bhajia

June 17, 2012mayurisjikoni
Blog post

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.

Father’s Day

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


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


Dietary Tips:

  • Gluten Free
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Its fried so eat in moderation



Deliciously crunchy, lentil or dal fritters, Vatidar Na Bhajia is a famous Mombasa Street Food. Enjoy piping hot with fresh coconut chutney, as an evening snack.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack, Starter, Street Food
Cuisine Kenyan
Servings 24 pieces


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.
Keyword Dal Bhajia, Vatidar Na Bhajia, Vatidar Na Bhajia , Mombasa Style

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A little request:

If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email
  •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962


  • Sapna

    June 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    If not mistaken the place was called Blue room

  • Mayuri's jikoni

    June 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    before Blue Room there use to be Cosy Room where dad use to go and if lucky we got to go with him. I still remember red plastic chairs and white saucers.

  • Anonymous

    January 18, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Brilliant post!.i love it reading of this excellent post.This is one of my favorite snacks, yours has turned out perfectly ! Looks yum ! Really, i like the fact that you made it so easy for people like me to read. Thanks for a wonderful share.

  • Mayuri's jikoni

    June 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Thanks Laxmi farsan. Its encouraging comments like your that makes blogging the recipes all the more rewarding. I do try and keep the method as simple as possible. Once again thanks for the lovely comment.

  • Anonymous

    September 14, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Hi Mayuri! Your site is my saviour …my husband grew up in mombasa, so i am always looking for recipes like this! Thanks.

  • Linsy Patel

    October 3, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    bhajia looks super yummy for my rainy days here.

  • FoodTrails

    June 16, 2019 at 5:00 am

    I liked the use of raw mangoes in these bhajias, it must have added a sweet tangy taste.. also the dip sounds so delcious.. perfect combo of a rainy day with garam chai!!

  • Mina Joshi (@GiveMeSomeSpice)

    June 17, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    The vatidar bhajias look perfect. My cousins in Mombasa always spoke about them and asked us to create this recipe in Nairobi. I think adding fenugreek to the lentils gives them the unique taste.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 24, 2019 at 5:39 am

      Mina adding fenugreek or even what we call terere or tandario bhaji.

  • Renu Agrawal Dongre

    June 17, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Wow this is a unique recipe. A bhajiya with cowpeas and green grams. This are perfect in this rainy weather here. My dad is also a big fan of bhajiyas and can have it as is for his meal.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 24, 2019 at 5:38 am

      Thanks Renu, it seems both our dads have similar tastes.

  • chefmireille

    June 18, 2019 at 12:40 am

    When I make it to Mombasa will definitely have to try out these bhajia. In the meantime your pics are tempting me so much 🙂

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 24, 2019 at 5:37 am

      Thanks Mireille, and yes no one leaves Mombasa without sampling the street food. Let me know whenever you make it to Mombasa, I’ll gladly take you around.

  • Batter Up With Sujata

    June 18, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    First to say loved your write up Mayuri. Enjoyed reading. Bhajia looks crispy crunchy and delicious. Perfect snack for evening tea.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 24, 2019 at 5:36 am

      Thank you so much Sujata.

  • Maheboob Ladha

    March 29, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    Aah these turned out really good. In Kaberamaido Uganda we had these during “recess” time with mango chutney. Mama HAYATO made them, the flatter version mashed up in wooden kino miti. Amazing texture as even the chutney was a little grainy. My Bhabhi in Toronto makes them really good. Grinds lentils in a HAND meat mincer, twice!
    Thank you

    1. mayurisjikoni

      April 3, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you so much Maheboob Ladha for liking my recipe. As for memories, I think we all have some memories or the other about enjoying these famous bhajias. Hats off to your bhabhi for trying to get the authentic texture by using the hand meat mincer instead of a food processor.

  • Chef Mireille

    June 20, 2021 at 1:40 am

    5 stars
    I’ve often seen these cowpeas when I go to Indian supermarket but never knew what to do with them. I am so excited to get to try a new ingredient. Will be picking them up when I go next week to try this delicious looking recipe!

  • Shobha Keshwani

    June 20, 2021 at 2:12 am

    5 stars
    These fritters look super delicious with a crunchy texture. I like the addition of greens and raw mango. I remember when we lived in Nigeria dals were not available and we used to make do with beans . I loved reading the write up. Even in West Africa thereare similar fritters but round in shape like bondas. There they add prawn pieces and chillies in the thick batter of beans. They call them Okara . This snack is also popular in Brazil and called Acaraje over there. It is made in the Bahia state which has African immigrants.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 22, 2021 at 11:17 am

      Shobha, thanks for sharing the useful information. Even through comments we learn something new. Had no idea that they made similar fritters in Nigeria. Local foods are the best.

  • Neha

    June 20, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    5 stars
    I am impressed with the context of this recipe. How foods in general have evolved or metamorphosed with their transit from one country to another. To my mind every recipe is an expression , it has memories and a rich context on which they have become so popular. Loved the bhajias! They have a close resemblance with falafel too. Will surely try them. .

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 22, 2021 at 11:15 am

      Thank you so much Neha, you are so right the recipes gets evolved to encompass local flavors and ingredients. And yes we often use these bhajias as a replacement for falafel.

  • Archana

    June 23, 2021 at 8:52 am

    5 stars
    Food that is associated with memories have amazing flavours. I love this vatidar na bhajia with monsoons here bhajiya are something we crave. Thanks to the lockdown the onus of making any bhjiya is on me. 😀 (because I rarely fry.)

    Will try making these bhajiya during the weekends.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 23, 2021 at 12:23 pm

      Thank you Archana, and enjoy vatidar na bhajia with hot masala tea.

  • Ush Patel

    February 13, 2022 at 11:49 am

    My mom in law lived in Mombasa by the tusks in the 50’s. She used to make these ‘Blueroom’ bhajias and they were delicious. Wish I had paid attention but thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Are cow peas blackeyed peas?

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 13, 2022 at 9:09 pm

      Thank Ush, follow the recipe and they turn out really good. Cowpeas is what we call chora.So usually chora ni dal is used. My in laws use to stay near the Tusks.Perhaps your mum might know them, Virendra and Nalini Patel.

  • Lina

    July 25, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you so much Muyorisjikoni. I was looking for the bhajia recipe. I come from Mombasa but didn’t know how to make these delicious irresistible bhajias plus the coconut chutney. In Mombasa we call the amaranth leaves “mchicha”

    1. mayurisjikoni

      July 28, 2022 at 7:34 pm

      You’re welcome,hoep you tried out the recipe. Yes in Kenya we call fresh amaranth leaves mchicha.

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