Dahi Vada (Dahi Bhalla Chaat)

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This favorite Dahi Vada or Dahi Bhalla recipe has the softest lentil fritters drenched in creamy yogurt and topped with sweet and spicy chutney’s. This popular Indian street food is loved by all and is a perfect inclusion to any festive menu!

Dahi Vada is popular all over India, but especially in North India. It can be served as an appetizer/snack, as a Dahi Bhalla Chaat, or as a side dish with dinner. This dish is naturally vegetarian and gluten free. It can be made vegan, by using vegan yogurt.

Dahi Vada is been my most favorite growing up. My mom made it often, and the whole family enjoyed it. Her recipe was always requested as the Vada’s always came out so soft and pillowy. They would just melt in the mouth. Top them with Tamarind Chutney (my fav), mint cilantro chutney, some roasted cumin powder and mild chili powder, and you have the best dish here. Okay…I am drooling just talking about it.

When I moved to the US and started making Dahi Vada, I had to get her secret tips and recipe. I have been using this recipe to make Dahi Bhalla for pretty much every potluck or party I attend or host. Dahi Bhalla is the dish always assigned to me!

So today, I am sharing my mom’s detailed recipe with all the tips and tricks with you.

What is Dahi Vada?

Dahi Vada is lentil fritters soaked in yogurt. Dahi is “yogurt” and Vada is “deep fried lentil fritters”. It is a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth kind of dish.

The lentil fritters are soaked in water so they soften. Then they are dunked in creamy whisked yogurt and topped with chutney and spices. The most common are tamarind chutney and mint cilantro chutney. We also sprinkle some roasted ground cumin, red chili powder and top with cilantro.  Some people like to sprinkle some chaat masala too.

Dahi Vada is also known as “dahi baray” in Marathi, dahi bhalla in Punjabi, thayir vadai in Tamil, thairu vada in Malayalam, perugu vada in Telugu, mosaru vade in Kannada, dahi bara in Odia and doi bora in Bengali. This street food is also very popular in Pakistan.

Dahi Bhalla is a popular snacky street food, served as Dahi Bhalla Chaat. It can also be enjoyed as a side dish in an Indian meal. We always made Dahi Bhalla during the festivals such as Diwali and Holi. Another popular street food is Mumbai Vada Pav, which with a potato fritter in a dinner roll along with the chutneys.

What is the Difference between Dahi Bhalla and Dahi Vada?

As mentioned above, Dahi Bhalla and Dahi Vada are the same dish. Dahi Bhalle is the common term in the northern part of India, while in Southern India, Vada is the common term. Vada is also made in a donut shape, but for eating it with yogurt, it is typically made as a lentil ball.

How to make Dahi Vada?

Dahi Vada Ingredients

To make the Dahi Vada, there are 3 main ingredients plus the chutneys to assemble the final dish.

  1. Urad Dal (Split Skinned Black Gram Lentils)
  2. Moong Dal (Split Yellow Moong Lentils)
  3. Yogurt
  4. Tamarind Chutney
  5. Mint Cilantro Chutney – this one can be skipped in a pinch.

The good news is that the chutneys can be prepared separately or in advance of preparing the Dahi Vada.

Making Dahi Vada needs planning, as you need to soak the lentils for few hours before you can proceed to make the batter and Vada’s.

Step 1: Soak the Lentils

Take the lentils in a large bowl and wash them a few times until the water runs clear. Soak them overnight. If you are in a pinch, you can soak them in warm water for 4 hours.

You can soak both lentils together, they need not be soaked separately such as in idli recipe.

Step 2: Make the batter

Drain the soaking water. Add ginger, green chili pepper, salt and lentils to a blender, such as Vitamix. Grind on low to medium speed to form a almost smooth batter.  The batter should be thick and of dropping consistency. Remove in a large bowl. 

To make soft dahi vada, it is important to whip the lentil batter vigorously to make it light and fluffy. You can do that with a spoon or ladle.

To figure out if the batter is ready to make the vada’s, drop a small ball of the batter with a spoon in a bowl filled with water. If the ball immediately starts to float on top, the batter is ready to make vada.

Some people add baking soda when making batter. I never had to add it to get soft vada’s.

Step 3: Prepare Vada

Heat oil in a wok or kadhai. Make sure the oil is hot before making the Vada’s. You can check by dropping a single drop of the batter, it should rise to the top of the oil immediately. After the oil is hot, reduce to medium heat.

Here I am sharing my mom’s trick to make the lentil balls easily using a spoon. Take water in a small bowl. Take a large spoon, dip it in water, then take batter in the spoon and drop it in the hot oil. Now before making the next vada, dip the spoon in water again and then take the batter. Repeat for each vada.

You can also make the vada by scooping the batter with your hand (very carefully) or with an ice-cream scoop.

When you drop the Vada’s in the oil, then keep pouring oil over them using a ladle. When the Vada’s look cooked (golden brown in color) are done on one side, flip them over with a ladle.

When the other side is done, take them out in a bowl lined with a tissue to soak the oil.

Fry in batches. Do not overcrowd when frying the Vadas.

Here is what used to happen (or still happens) at my place. Once the Vada’s are made, half used to get eaten just as is with chutney or tomato ketchup. Oh…these are so good. Serve hot!

But don’t get carried away and eat all of them, save some for the real treat – Dahi Bhalla!

Step 4: Soak the Vada’s

Now soak the vada’s in lukewarm water as soon as they are fried (I mean the leftover’s ;-)). Soak for about 15 minutes. The vada’s will soak up the water, double in size and become super soft.

Now take each vada and gently press in between of your palms to remove excess water.

Do this for all the Vada’s that you plan to add to yogurt right away. If you want to save for later, then see the storing instructions below.

Step 5: Assemble the Dahi Vada

Whisk the yogurt and season it with salt and sugar. I used the yogurt made in the instant pot. Sugar is optional, but much recommended 🙂 You want to use cold chilled yogurt here.

You want to have the chutneys and spices ready. Cilantro chopped.

Place the soft Vada’s from step 4 in a bowl. Pour the yogurt over them, so they are all covered with the yogurt. Drop the chutney’s over them and sprinkle the spices. Garnish with some cilantro.

My favorite is to add tamarind chutney (tamarind date Chutney works great too) and roasted cumin powder.

You can now refrigerate this for 1-2 hours so the lentil balls soak in the yogurt.

Tips to make the softest Dahi Bhalla

  1. Use the suggested lentil ratio to make the Bhalla.
  2. Whisk the batter well before making the vada. Whisking incorporate air into the batter, which makes the bhalla’s turn out light and airy.
  3. The oil to fry the vada should be hot. Do not fry bhallas in cold oil, as they will fall flat. Fry vada on medium heat, so their center is well cooked.
  4. Do not overcrowd when frying the vadas, as they expand a bit when frying.

How to store Dahi Vada?

If you are not going to use up all the vada’s, then you can store them in a ziploc bag or air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer. After taking of the Vada’s from the oil, cool the Vada’s to room temperature before storing. Do not soak the vada’s that you want to store in water.

Dahi Bhallas stays good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To use freezed vada, thaw them in the refrigerator. (see next section for how to use)

Pro-tip: I always make more quantity and store these vada’s to enjoy all week. My daughter loves them, so why not have this healthy snack available!

How to use stored Dahi Vada? or How to make hard Dahi Vada soft?

In a large saucepan, boil ample amount of water and turn off the flame. Add the stored (or thawed vada) to the hot water and let them rest for a minimum of 15-20 minutes.

If you have time, then they are water cool down. Take out each vada and gently press it in between your palms. Now it is ready to add to yogurt.

If you are in a hurry, then after 15-20 minutes, add cold water to the bowl. Once the Vada’s are cool enough to pick, then pick each one and press gently. Continue with adding to yogurt.

So you have all the best tips and tricks to make the softest Dahi Vada’s now. I hope you make them soon, and share with family and friends! 

Tried this recipe?Give a rating by clicking the ★ below

Dahi Vada (Dahi Bhalla Chaat)

Meeta Arora

This favorite Dahi Vada or Dahi Bhalla recipe has the softest lentil fritters drenched in creamy yogurt and topped with sweet and spicy chutney’s. This popular Indian street food is loved by all and is a perfect inclusion to any festive menu!

4.91 from 10 votes

Servings: 10
Calories: 95
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Vegetarian
Method: Stovetop

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Soaking time: 6 hrs
Total Time: 40 mins

Ingredients

 

 

Assembling ingredients (for about 10-12 vada’s )

Instructions

 

Soak the lentils

  • Take the lentils in a large bowl and wash them a few times until the water runs clear. Soak them overnight. If you are in a pinch, you can soak them in warm water for 4 hours.

Make the batter

  • Drain the soaking water. Add ginger, green chili pepper, salt and lentils to a blender, such as Vitamix.
  • Grind on low to medium speed to form a almost smooth batter.  The batter should be thick and of dropping consistency. Remove in a large bowl. (Add a little water 1 tbsp at a time if needed for blending)
  • Whip the lentil batter vigorously to make it light and fluffy. You can do that with a spoon or ladle. (To figure out if the batter is ready to make the vada’s, drop a small ball of the batter with a spoon in a bowl filled with water. If the ball immediately starts to float on top, the batter is ready to make vada.)

Fry the Vada

  • Heat oil in a wok or kadhai. Make sure the oil is hot before making the Vada’s. You can check by dropping a single drop of the batter, it should rise to the top of the oil immediately. After the oil is hot, reduce to medium heat.
  • Add the batter to the oil using a spoon or ice-cream scooper. (Take water in a small bowl. Take a large spoon, dip it in water, then take batter in the spoon and drop it in the hot oil. Now before making the next vada, dip the spoon in water again and then take the batter. Repeat for each vada)
  • When you drop the Vada’s in the oil, then keep pouring oil over them using a ladle. When the Vada’s look cooked (golden brown in color) are done on one side, flip them over with a ladle.
  • When the other side is done, take them out in a bowl lined with a paper napkin to soak the excess oil. Fry in batches. Do not overcrowd when frying the Vadas.

Soak the Vada’s

  • Now soak the vada’s in lukewarm water as soon as they are fried for about 15 minutes. The vada’s will soak up the water, double in size and become super soft.
  • Now take each vada and gently press in between of your palms to remove excess water.

Assemble the Dahi Vada

  • Whisk the yogurt and season it with salt and sugar. If the yogurt is too thick, add some water or milk to get the right consistency.
  • Place the softened vada’s from step 4 in a bowl. Pour the yogurt over them, so they are all covered with the yogurt. Drop the tamarind chutney and mint cilantro chutney over them and sprinkle the roasted cumin powder and red chili powder.
  • (optional) You can now refrigerate this for 1-2 hours so the lentil balls soak in the yogurt.
  • Garnish with some cilantro and Enjoy!

Notes

Yogurt: I use homemade yogurt. But either homemade or store bought plain yogurt will work well. 

Tips to make the softest Dahi Bhalla

  1. Use the suggested lentil ratio to make the Bhalla.
  2. Whisk the batter well before making the vada. Whisking incorporate air into the batter, which makes the bhalla’s turn out light and airy.
  3. The oil to fry the vada should be hot. Do not fry bhallas in cold oil, as they will fall flat. Fry vada on medium heat, so their center is well cooked.
  4. Do not overcrowd when frying the vadas, as they expand a bit when frying.

Storing Dahi Vada for later:

After taking of the vada’s from the oil, cool the vada’s to room temperature before storing them in a ziploc bag or air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Do not soak the vada’s that you want to store in water.

Dahi Bhallas stays good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and in the freezer for 2 months. To use freezed vada, thaw them in the refrigerator. 

Using stored Dahi Vada:

In a large saucepan, boil ample amount of water and turn off the flame. Add the stored (or thawed vada) to the hot water and let them rest for a minimum of 15-20 minutes.

If you have time, then they are water cool down. If you are in a hurry, then after 15-20 minutes, add cold water to the bowl. Once the Vada’s are cool enough to pick, take out each vada and gently press it in between your palms. Now it is ready to add to yogurt.

 

Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 95kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 6gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 215mgPotassium: 110mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 74IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 2mg

Keyword dahi bhalla, dahi bhalla chaat, dahi vada
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