Dahi vada or Dahi bhalla is an Indian chaat. It is a deep fried lentil dumpling, soaked in thick yogurt and topped with garnishes like sweet chutney, chilli powder, cumin powder, and coriander. Dahi vadas are not as difficult to make as they look. Lentil dumplings are fried and soaked in salted water and then in thick yogurt and garnished just before eating. The secret to light and fluffy dahi vadas is to beat the batter in circular motion for 3-4 four minutes just before making the vadas.
In some parts of India, especially in Delhi and Gujarat, the yogurt used for soaking the vadas is sweetened. I prefer the unsweetened yogurt and like to add the sweet chutney as a topping. There are different versions of dahi vada around the country and this is my family recipe. It might appear bit different from the other recipes you find on Internet. My mom prefers to add some spices like chilli powder and some cumin powder to the yogurt in which the dahi vadas are soaked.
In Hyderabad, during the month of Ramzan, you can find roadside stalls selling dahi vadas in the evenings when people break the fast. I have blurred memories of the vendors shouting funny slogans to attract people to their dahi vada stalls. These vendor sell dahi vadas with different toppings. Red chilli powder, cumin powder, and sweet chutney are common toppings for dahi vada. People even add chaat masala, grated coconut, sev, mint chutney, and pomegranate as toppings.
Dahi vada tastes best when it’s chilled. This is a fixed side dish at my place for the Diwali dinner. It can be served as a snack or as a side dish with meals.
Makes 15 dahi vadas
- 2/3 cup urad dal soaked for 5-6 hours
- 3 cups yogurt beaten
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1-2 tsp cumin powder
- 1-2 tsp black salt
- ¼ cup tamarind chutney
- 1-2 tbsp chopped coriander
- Oil for frying
Drain water from the soaked urad dal and grind it to a smooth paste using as little water as possible. Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl. You can add a pinch or two of soda at this stage if you wish. But this is optional.
Heat oil in a deep pan or kadhai. Wet your palms. Drop around a tablespoon full of the dal paste and shape it round. Carefully slide the vada into hot oil. Do this for rest of the vadas. Fry on medium flame till the vadas are golden brown. Another option is to use a wet table spoon and carefully drop vadas into the hot oil. Remember to dip the spoon in water before taking the paste for each vada.
Put the vadas on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Take around 1 ½ to 2 cups of water in a bowl. Add around two tsp of salt and mix. Now add the fried vadas to this water and let them soak for 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the yogurt with salt, and little red chilli powder. Squeeze out the vada from salt water after 30-40 minutes. Dip the vadas in the beaten yogurt and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes if you like the dahi vada chilled.
Just before serving take the vadas in serving dish. Top it with little more yogurt. Garnish with pinch of black salt, cumin powder, and red chilli powder. You can adjust the garnish as per taste and quantity of the vadas. Add tamarind chutney and chopped coriander.